Making the Most of College
Be prepared to conquer
Independence, responsibility, promptness, and sense of adventure are skills/traits that will suit you well on your first day of college. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Anticipate you will be delayed looking for parking and for your classrooms, so get to the college as early in the day as possible to find your way around and explore the campus.
- Use the SMC GO app to help you navigate the campus using the Maps feature.
- Arrive to your class a few minutes early to get a seat. Many non-enrolled students "crash" the class hoping the instructor will add them. Arriving late not only sets a bad impression, but you may end up sitting on the floor. Sit at the front to avoid distractions!
- First day of class is sometimes known as "Syllabus Day." Your instructors will provide you a syllabus describing what the class is about, including when tests will be administered, grading and attendance policies, etc. The syllabus tends to be covered at the beginningof class and you don't want to miss it.
- Do not skip class. Not showing up to your first class may result in your getting dropped and your seat given to another student.
- Come prepared! Purchase your books and note books ahead of time; bring pencils and pens. If you use a laptop or tablet to take notes, be sure to know the instructor's policy on their use. Some instructors prohibit use of electronics.
- Introduce yourself to the instructor. Your instructor can be your best advocate for your success, but they need to get to know you. Become familiar with the instructor's office hours and meet them there.
- Introduce yourself to other students and share your contact information in the event you later need notes for a class you missed. Solicit interest from other students in forming a small study group.
Stay on top of course-specific deadlines
- Read the course syllabus and input class-specific deadlines on your mobile's calendar. Set a reminder a few days ahead.
- If you must drop a class, be sure to do so by the specific deadline. Simply login to Corsair Connect and you will see these deadlines on your semester class schedule.
- If you are thinking of dropping a class, check with a counselor before you do. Let them help you make an informed decision.
- Missing the deadline will mean you will not get a refund; you will get a W on your transcript; or you get an F if you stop attending.
- There could be a financial consequence for withdrawing from a class if you receive financial aid. Check with a Financial Aid representative before you drop.
- While an instructor may drop you for nonattendance or nonparticipation in the class, some may opt not to do that and will assign you an F for the class. You are responsible for all enrollment and course deadlines.
- Review the Enrollment/Class Dates and Deadlines on the SMC GO app. Add these to your phone by clicking "Add to Calendar."
Interactions with instructors influence academic achievement
Research shows that college students' formal and informal interactions with instructors inside and outside the classroom have a positive impact on personal growth, academic achievement, and goal completion. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Introduce yourself early in the semester.
- Ask questions.
- Go to class early or stay afterward to talk with the instructor.
- Go to office hours.
- Ask about material that you’re curious about, not only what you’re not sure you understand.
- Ask your instructor about her/his areas of interest ans scholarship.
- Arrange an independent study experience.
- By the middle of the semester, ask yourself:
- Do all of my instructors know who I am?
- Do I feel that my instructors care about me as a person?
- Have I developed a mentor/mentee relationship with one or more of my instructors?
Adapted from Student Guide to Creating a Successful College Experience (Gallup-Purdue Index)
Counselors will help you identify the best pathway to achieve your goal
Here are some things to keep in mind:
- SMC is #1 among California Community Colleges in the number of counselors available to assist students like you.
- We count with over 25 unique counseling programs to assist you.
- If you are a new college student, go to the Welcome Center to assistance.
- If you have previously taken college courses (not while in high school), go to the Transfer/Counseling Center.
- Meet with a counselor immediately after you complete your English and Math Assessment tests and your Online Orientation to discuss your educational goals. The counselor will help you develop an ed plan to get you started. Meet with a counselor at least once per term, but more often is highly recommended.
- Use MyEdPlan to develop and update your education plan.
- Your education plan will show you exactly what courses you need and the order in which you need to take them.
- Identify your goal (e.g., transfer, degree, certificate, entering the workplace) and discuss with a counselor how to best achieve it in the least time possible.
- Work to identify the best major for you by the end of your first year.
- Do take elective courses, but don't overdo it. Taking many "unnecessary" courses will delay your goal progress. Remember: momentum is key!
Succeeding in the classroom isn’t necessarily hard, but it does take hard work
Succeeding in the classroom isn’t necessarily hard, but it does take hard work. Here is the formula for success:
- Read the syllabus to find out when assignments are due, when tests are scheduled, and how grades are determined. Ask questions to clarify doubts!
- Go to every class. Never miss.
Sit near the front in class. It will help you stay focused.
- Find a study partner or group in every class.
- Take good notes. After every class, rework/rewrite/ reorganize your notes to increase your retention of the information. Start studying for every exam at least 7 days in advance. Don’t cram at the last minute — it usually doesn’t pay off.
- At the beginning of each semester, ask yourself: Do I understand what is expected
of me in each class?
Do I have contact information for someone in every class to study with or contact in case I’m sick?
- Study 2 hours for every hour you are in class.
- Manage your time wisely.
- Never let a week go by where you don’t understand the content in your courses.
- If you are confused or lost in a class, visit your professor, go to a help lab or study with a friend. Use your campus resources — they are there to help you.
- Adapted from Student Guide to Creating a Successful College Experience (Gallup-Purdue Index)
It is all about completing set milestones
Full or Near Full-Time Attendance is Key. It is all about completing set milestones. Here are some thing to keep in mind:
- Time is money, both in college costs and delayed earning power.
In most cases, students will need to successfully complete a minimum of 15 units per semester in order to get an Associate Degree or Certificate of Achievement and transfer in two years.
- The typical degree and transfer requirements patterns require 60 units, which is 15 units over four semesters.
- Certificates of Achievement range between 18 and 40+ units, taking you anywhere between 2 to four semesters.
- Set yourself a goal for how many units you need to take per term and stick to it! Here is something to consider:
- Full-Time Attendance Goal: 30 units by the end of Year 1; 60 units by the end of Year
Part-Time Attendance Goal: 20 units by the end of Year 1; 40 units by the end of Year 2; 60 units by the end of Year 3.
- Take 6-9 units each fall and spring semesters, and 3-4 units every summer and winter.
If you cannot attend full-time, take as many units as possible, but do it throughout the year. SMC offers courses during the Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring terms. There are full-term classes, and many short-term classes in the fall and spring semesters for you to choose from.
- Work to identify the best major for you by the end of your first year — and once you have a plan, stick with it.
- Meet with a counselor or use MyEdPlan to develop an education plan that will show you exactly what courses you need and the order in which you need to take them.
Involvement in curricular and co-curricular activities promotes leadership skills
Getting involved and being a part of campus life is an important component of your development, not to mention the important skills you will develop to get you ready for transfer or to enter the workplace! Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Work part-time on campus or get an internship where you can apply what you are learning in the classroom. On-campus work provides you with additional mentoring opportunities, and allows you to practice skills that enhance your resumé, not to mention helping you with college expenses.
- Co-curricular activities are a great way to explore your interests and meet new people;
but don’t let your campus involvement, leadership positions, and volunteering get
in the way of your academics!
Volunteer. It’s a great way to do something for you while doing something important for someone else. You also can apply what you learn in class as you give back to the community.
- Consider an internship. Visit the Career Services Center to learn about hundreds of options.
- Consider study abroad. Increase your world view. Many opportunities exist to visit other countries as part of the SMC Study Abroad Program during the Summer and Winter terms and during spring break. Don't think you can afford it? Study abroad scholarships are sometimes available.
- Practice your leadership skills. Employers are looking for people who can lead from day one. College gives you many opportunities to build your skills so you can be ready when it’s time for a job.
Adapted from Student Guide to Creating a Successful College Experience (Gallup-Purdue Index)