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What do you think of your community college experience so far?

hamlin4thhamlin4th Registered User Posts: 66 Junior Member
edited October 2012 in UC Transfers
Just went through my first week of community college and it has been great. Now I didn't go into this situation with an entirely negative mindset, but I wasn't exactly the biggest optimist. I was worried about getting a "lesser" education and how people would judge me. Now I know that the former is not an issue, and that the latter just isn't important.

First off, all of my professors are geniuses. They are, without a doubt, masters of their subject, and this quality alone has motivated me to buckle down on my studies and actually yearn to learn! A big part of my laziness in high school contributed to the fact that my teachers lacked passion. Sure, the classes were easy, but I was only interested in doing the minimum. You know, just getting by; passing my classes for the sake of passing by high school. The teachers were either sub-par or putting out the minimum, so I figured why should I care? I'll just put out the minimum and be a sub-par student (this made a lot of sense to a fourteen-year-old). I was more concerned with completing my video game backlog and messing around with my friends. It wasn't until my second semester of senior year that I matured by realizing the importance of hard work and pursuing an education.

Thank goodness websites like ratemyprofessors exist. It's like I'm the boss in college. I make the times, I choose the professors, and I create the experience. But in high school you can easily get screwed over by your counselor, or however your classes are assigned. I had what amounted to one good teacher for my first two years of high school. Now my junior year did give me a bunch of great teachers, and the subjects were finally challenging, but at this point I was too set in stone with my lazy ways. In fact, I'm still surprised that I managed to pass chem having slept in class all the time (I opened the book once for a rare take home test that my teacher gave because he pitied most of us).

But yeah, so I've gotten really good vibes from all of my professors so far. Their lectures have left me wanting to take notes, thinking about class beyond the classroom, and being excited to study. It's like academics are a game to me now; a game that I really want to win and set the high score to. And these are extremely educated people! I couldn't help but pause while I was skimming my college's catalog when I noticed that my music theory professor went to Cambridge. Freaking Cambridge! I mean, at least in America, I'm impressed when I hear one of the ivy leagues, but name-drop Oxford or Cambridge and I will instantly assume that you're lying through your teeth. But no, it's the truth; my music theory professor really was educated at Cambridge, and it doesn't stop there. My other professors have degrees from the likes of UCLA and UPenn.

Things turned out way better than I expected they would. I came in with this ignorant view that "I'm just going to power through this intellectual wasteland and transfer in two years". And just think of how damning it is to say that, not just in regards to the professors, but to people that attend a community college. See me, my background is secure. I live with my less-well-off mother, but my father makes quite a bit of money and actively supports me. I'm one of the lucky ones. You can't say the same for everyone at community college. For example, there is the guy in my Anthropology class who had to leave the country for ten years because he got on the bad side of an extremely influential gang. People that will send someone across the country in order to kill you for turning your back on them. Now this gang has died off and he's back to pursue an education. I also befriended this middle-eastern woman in my English class whose parents sacrificed their lives to get her to America years ago. She has to work a crummy full-time job while being enrolled at the college in order to support herself. It's just her against the world. She could hardly string together a coherent sentence when she first arrived. Now we're in English 102 together discussing the themes of Death of a Salesman.

Honestly, I think these community colleges do a better job at promoting a diverse student body than top tier universities do. This is where you find true diversity. Not everyone is a hard worker or a prodigy. Sure, at the ivy leagues you might be diverse based on your race or financial background, but there's more than just that at community college. Unfortunately the real world is not like an intellectual bubble; places like University of Chicago or small liberal arts colleges where you can sit down and have developed conversations about differential equations and James Joyce. There is so much more to life than just that! Sometimes the ordinary things reveal themselves to be extraordinary.

Although don't think I'm knocking down higher institutions! After all, my goal is to use community college as a bridge to be accepted by my dream school, UC Berkeley. I really do want to attend a university where my peers are all extremely hard working, intelligent, talented, any combination of these, etc. But for now I appreciate where I am, and I'm confident that these are going to be an interesting two years. Feels like I'm really going to develop as a person.

Sorry about the tangent, but I am in shock with how I've found purpose and enjoyment in community college! If you asked me how I felt about going to one earlier in the year then I would have responded with self-loathing and regret. Fast forward to my first week of college and I can't shut up about how great it was! And it's just such a relief that it's not like high school. My friends were telling me "lol your going to face high school part two while I'm going to a legit college to have the time of my life" or "I'm getting a real education and not the thirteenth grade". Well my first week of community college has been leagues better than my first two and a half years of high school, and I'm confident these next two years will absolutely crush all the time I spent in high school.

It's funny. I clearly remember my father telling me at my middle school graduation that "these next four years are going to be the best years of your life". Well he was wrong. They were the worst. I had never faced so much shallowness and insecurity. And then he told me (well pretty much everyone said this) that life will suck in community college, but at least it will get better when I transfer. Well so far he's wrong. I've hit the ground running, and I'm going to continue running so that someday I can look back on my time at community college with fond memories.
Post edited by hamlin4th on

Replies to: What do you think of your community college experience so far?

  • d3lusiond3lusion Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
    Wow.... I admire and envy your enthusiasm. I wish I had your optimistic outlook... My story is very similar to yours: high school slacker, gamer, and having a very pessimistic outlook at community college at first. This is my first year also, but I started early in the summer semester.

    I entered city college with a very competitive, elitist, and possibly arrogant mindset (I still act this way). I want to get those As so I can transfer to UCLA in two years, possibly even sooner. I generally look down upon a majority of my classmates, viewing some of my peers as being wild party people who can't get any work done or simply unmotivated students. From the students I see texting at the back of the class, to the gangs of smokers I always see prowling around campus. I couldn't help but feel that I was one of the few people at community college that wanted to succeed.

    Obviously, this isn't true, but being constantly bombarded with the the suffocating fumes of cigarettes, hearing some word like n
    every two minutes, and seeing people dozing in class definitely let my spirits down. I tend to keep to myself and focus on schoolwork.

    However, I do agree that the professors at community college can be absolutely amazing! Indeed, ratemyprofessors is a life saver. As you said, the professors are generally very passionate about their subject material and sincerely want their students to excel. My professors have degrees from the likes of UC Berkeley and Stanford. The lectures are stimulating, engaging, and sometimes even humorous.The professors themselves are probably the only reason why I find myself marginally content with my experience at community college.

    To my disappointment, I earned a 3.5 GPA in my last semester, receiving an A and a B. I feel that this blemish has fueled my drive to academically succeed even more so than before. I just can't picture myself going to a generic state school with other unmotivated students. I have been obsessively reading assist.org, UC websites, and college confidential every day since I first stepped my foot into college. I know what I need to do. I know what classes to take. I am aware of the programs available to me. I know the game (or so I think). I don't want a repeat of my high school failures.

    I know I am coming off as elitist and arrogant... but this is simply my genuine insight on CC life. I am sure there are other intelligent students out there, but I just don't want to bother looking for them through the masses. I don't intend to have a vibrant social life at my city college. I am here to succeed.

    And btw, class registration is a true atrocity.
  • failure622failure622 Registered User Posts: 1,354 Senior Member
    Honestly, a lot of my CC professors were terrible.

    I had one for multivariate calc, he was ten minutes late everyday. He didn't explain things well, he generally got at least one example problem (done up on the board) wrong, sometimes even using the wrong method on the first problem he showed us for a section. Not intentionally, mind you. He just wasn't good at math. Then at the end of the semester, we were two weeks behind and he acted like he had no idea why... then expected us to learn the last two weeks of class on our own from the textbook.

    I had a circuits teacher who refused to put anything but the simplest examples on the board, even when students directly asked her to go over other problems. She refused to teach us certain methods for solving problems, teaching us only the over-simplified special cases, then our exams would include problems we could only solve with the methods she wouldn't teach us. You could tell she didn't know what she was talking about, and didn't understand the underlying concepts for the material. The result? A 60% on her exams became a B. Not because the exams were that hard, but because she didn't want to teach us the material we needed to know.

    I've had CS teachers who couldn't code and would just read aloud from the textbook during class, I've had CS teachers who didn't even try to teach and would just give us assignments, which we would get back a month or two later. Out of... six CS teachers I've had (counting highschool and CC), there was only one who could write some amount code and cared about teaching the class.

    Some professors have just been awful, either from a lack of understanding the material or just not wanting to teach. That said, some of them have been amazing, and those I've learned a lot from. But there weren't very many that fit that category.

    This year, I'm a Berkeley transfer (yay). I had classes over the summer, which were taught by grad students, and they were all great. Knew the material, passionate about teaching, could explain concepts clearly, and truly understood what they were doing. Even the TA's were good, and most of them were undergrads. That's fifteen people, split between two classes, who were all wonderful teachers.

    Going into an actual term now (aka Fall), I'm definitely not disappointed. The differences in instruction, at least compared to the CCs where I'm transferring from, is huge. And it's amazing to be here. It's a terrible feeling to be sitting in class trying to learn from someone who doesn't understand the material, or who doesn't know how to explain it clearly, and I'm glad I don't need to go through that again.
  • LoveDogLoveDog Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
    @hamlin4th & d3lusion:

    Hey, I'm a bit of a mixture between the two of you. First, I was also a slacker in high school and originally didn't plan on attending college. I thought I was going to be the next Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, et al.( my name should have been d3lusion!). Anyway, after graduation I took the first semester of the following year off and enrolled second semester just to see what I was potentially missing out on. I enrolled into 3 classes: math, English, and Japanese;
    the English and Japanese classes both had a wait list. While trying to get into those two classes and along with the math class I was enrolled in, I decide I was going to continue my education.

    All three classes made me passionate about learning again. In the English class, the professor made it a point to tell us that college wasn't a golden ticket to a career, money, or happiness, but he stressed that what it did give was more valuable; aside from the knowledge, we would also benefit from the experiences and connections we would be making. I was impressed by my math professor because you could tell he was passionate about what he was doing, and he knew what he was talking about. Finally, in the Japanese class it was interesting to see both the teacher and the students genuinely wanting to be there. Unfortunately, I was unable to get into English or Japanese, but it didn't matter because at that point I knew I was definitely coming back.

    Now, here I am two weeks into the fall semester of my first full year as a college student. I'm taking the maximum number of credits allowed at my cc, and I'm very much enjoying it. I was smart and used ratemyprofessor so I wouldn't be stuck with a bad professor. I, also, religiously check College Confidential, assist.org, the UC websites, and few other websites to help me keep track of everything. I'm planning on transferring to either UCLA or UCB, or if I'm lucky, a private school. Like you two I'm filled with a hunger to succeed and achieve my full potential.

    Oh and as far as my peers go: it's about 60/40. The majority are there to just to say that they're doing something, while the rest are actually there to learn. I haven't made any friends yet, but I meet everybody with an open mind. So, if i make friends during my time at cc, great. If not, it's OK because transferring is my first priority anyway. Maybe I'll be seeing one of you in the future or we should just should start a club here!


    Congrats on getting into Berkeley, I hope you enjoy your time there! I have a question: Other than the professors being of superior quality, is the difference between a cc and a university really like night and day?
  • failure622failure622 Registered User Posts: 1,354 Senior Member
    LoveDog: I'd say it is, but I'm sure part of it depends on which CC/Uni and professors and all that stuff. Keep in mind that my experience involves Berkeley EECS courses. :P Generally, some of the differences include the students here (they're all smart and dedicated and want to learn), the material (we were writing interpreters in CS 61A), the pace of material, and the general structure of classes (lecture, lab, discussion...). Obviously there are other differences too (like being in a dorm) but it's been pretty different so far. It's fun though, and it's nice to feel challenged in class again. But it might not be like this for all schools (or all classes), I dunno.
  • d3lusiond3lusion Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
    yes, I agree that I come off as an anti-social and judgmental person. I apologize for my... hostile attitude. Hopefully, with time, I will mature and be more open to other people. I admit that I still have much to learn.

    @hamlin4th and LoveDog
    I'm glad to hear about your positive experiences at community college. It certainly lightened up my perspective quite a bit. I wish the best for all of us and our endeavors.
  • dysfunctionaldysfunctional Registered User Posts: 83 Junior Member
    Any OOS who attended CCC? Perspectives haha... :/
  • gettinthatfoshogettinthatfosho Registered User Posts: 167 Junior Member
    My experience has been great so far. I'm two weeks in and loving it. I got priority registration which was great since my CCC is so packed. I really researched my profs too and they are all great. I usually have come early to get a parking spot in the farthest lot but I don't mind. I've actually been enjoying getting there early and spending time reading or doing homework. As long as I grab a coffee in the cafe. haha

    I'm taking four classes, 14 units (math is 5 units). Three of my classes are honors. I hope I'm on track to transfer to UCLA. I already have 6 units from poli sci classes I took last year. So 21 (hopefully) by the end of this semester. So 60 minus 21 is 39, 39 divided by 3 is 13 units each (three or four classes) for the remaining three semesters. And I might do a summer 2013 semester. I'm trying to hoard as much honors credit as I can for TAP. I am using assist.org to know what classes I should take for Psychology. I'm going to take all the UCLA reqs and as many reqs for other schools as I can (like Cal for example).

    I might get a job with the YMCA helping kids with disabilities, and next semester I might apply for an english tutor position at my college.

    My only worry is the insanely packed classes and people crashing (and burning). Is there a trick to always get priority registration? I guess I got lucky this time because I signed up for a program that requires you take (honors) personal growth. I guess I could always take classes at other campuses in the district if need be.


    I'm so excited to be in college and really like it. The girls are hot, and the profs are cool. I hope I can keep doing my best and make it all the way to PhDs and stuff. Wooohooo

    Oh btw, this forum has helped me a great deal.
  • Shannon13Shannon13 Registered User Posts: 553 Member
    My CCC experience has been overwhelmingly positive. I have spent two summer sessions taking classes at a UC and they have not been nearly as rewarding. At a CCC the professors care more about teaching. I know many of mine used to teach at 4 years but chose to move to a CCC so they could dedicate all of their time towards teaching instead of research. FYI- a full time CCC professor teaches 10 courses/year, a CSU teaches 6 and a UC teaches 4. I know a lot of UC professors teach even less.

    All of my professors have graded all of my work which is so important to bettering yourself as a student. Most of them have had extremely well thought out lectures that I learned so much from. My UC professors graded nothing and a lot of them were terrible at lecturing-I often learned close to nothing from my lectures there. Each of my UC classes had a graduate student instructor (GSI) who led a discussion once a week and usually graded everything (though sometimes even THEY had an assistant who graded). Some of the GSIs where either clueless or lazy and their discussions were a total waste of time.

    That being said, now that I am basically done with my CCC classes, it is definitely time to move on. I think spending 2 (or 3, depending on your pace and your major) years at a CC and then finishing your time at a UC is the best path. I got so much personal attention and fair grading (no weeder classes and all of my class sizes were 40 students or less) at a CCC which helped me so much academically. I think they prepare you for upper div much more than lower divs at a UC do. And at the same time, after you have completed 2-3 years of lower division work it is important to become a more independent student and not rely on professors to hold your hand.

    I did well in all of my UC classes-I always scored above the curve and I did it without much, if any, help from the professor or GSIs, but definitely using things I learned at a CCC.

    It's important to not get caught up in the never ending CCC cycle of dropping classes or changing your major. It's also important to research each class and professor you take. Not all CCC classes and professors were as awesome as mine.
  • CalDudCalDud Registered User Posts: 1,756 Senior Member
    Alright, my experience is that it was alright. My first two years I was a horrible student for a number of reasons.

    Most of the time I thought I was wasting my time sitting in them. Everything being so easy, I was not motivated to try very hard in them. My science classes were the most interesting, so I tried a bit more in there but not really. I probably studied for ten minutes before the exam in Differential Equations. I never studied in Calc I or III, but I studied my butt off for Calc 2 because it was a summer course (I also had pneumonia all summer). I never studied for Physics I or Modern Physics, C programming, economics, etc. Got decent grades. I just plain never studied much. Any liberal arts/writing class people would ask me for advice and I'd lie to them. Honestly, I wanted to tell them they were wasting their time in college and needed to get a job at the nearest McDonald's if they honestly needed advice to pass any of the classes I was in. The reason I never studied was because I stupidly believed that I could get by just on pure intelligence. I also was actually severely sick for 2 1/2 years of my college career, faced numerous financial hurdles, faced issues off girlfriend pregnancy, and I was actually helping my girlfriend study and learning all of the material for her classes to help her because she was pre-med. I did every assignment she had. While drowning in honors classes and technical classes that I barely paid attention to, I gave my full attention to helping my girlfriend's hard times as a pre-med student. I was pre-pharm. So it's not like I couldn't do the material, it's just I did not put the time into the classes to get A's.

    I often felt that the people around me were incredible idiots. I actually banged my head against the wall because my teacher got so frustrated with a student for not being able to understand a simple thing she left the room to cool off. Trust me, I did the bare minimum to achieve a ton of B's, some A's and some C's. I tried to redirect my attitude towards studying this year and only achieved it in my very last semester of community college. I really thought people were pathetic when they couldn't do a speech right in communications 101. I was even addicted to World of Warcraft for a while and doing the bare minimum in my honors classes to get good grades in them. For instance, Art 101, my teacher was from Princeton and I slept every time I had her class. Every quiz she ever gave I completely guessed on as I had not read the material. When a midterm came rolling around and I decided to skip the day she gave our tests back, no one got an A on the midterm that I talked to and when I show up...lo and behold an A. I spent the previous night reading 20 some chapters and then went to bed. The test wasn't just memorization, there were essay components I had no idea how she could really grade those and then a ton of stuff you were just supposed to be able to "tell" from the image. Similar results in my physics and multi-variable Calc class. Never studied and played more World of Warcraft that semester than days I spent in school. It was really sad. What's more was that I became jaded about the honors program at my school because I found out a lot of these students would do ANYTHING to get into UCLA or UC Berkeley by cheating. Honestly, it was sickening to see how much passing of old exams were going around and how clubs would debate over how to make the awards they made sound "prestigious". I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of students failed out of UC's.

    I was never able to develop good study habits. My girlfriend telling me that actually doing the problems in the book before exams was something I never thought of doing. I've always had this "you either get it or you don't" mentality. I am trying to THIS summer to become a "good" student and study hard. I had better things to take care of and think of such as my deteriorating health than worry about my classes day and night. My girlfriend was also very important to me and also has a very high GPA (3.8) because I have ALWAYS helped her study and shown her better, faster ways to do things.

    Now, the education itself seemed good. Many of my professors were from ivy leagues or UCLA. Mostly UCLA. I just wasn't a serious student and it was extremely hard for me to stay motivated when I was surrounded by a lot of people I thought were stupid. HOWEVER, the cream of the crop always appeared in my physics classes and I always had a good time getting through those classes with your smarter than average bear. Since my peers were smart, we fed off each other and did well. We worked fluidly as lab partners. I probably would've been better off going to a four-year directly, but it was not in the cards for me financially and wasn't until THIS summer.

    We had tutors, but I would always bring them a question and NO ONE. Not in three years have they been able to answer any of the questions I brought them. I remember as a freshman taking Calculus when I brought the problem to the tutoring center and the 9 tutors there COULD NOT solve it. It is even worse when you go and people say "no one can help you" or "use cramster"...so unmotivating. So, I hardly went to the tutors. Any time I did I got these type of responses.

    If I had to do it again, I'd put up with what I thought of people and the fact that I viewed college as a waste of time. I'd take a medical leave of absence and get better, then go straight into my courses and blow away the competition. I'd get over the fact that people were cheating. I probably should've broken up with my girlfriend and focused on school, but I doubt I would've done that. I'd have dropped pre-pharm and focused on my major. I'd have put on a fake smile and volunteered a bunch in clubs and held positions I didn't care about.

    I was a huge slacker in high school, but I still graduated top 10%. High school isn't that hard when everyone else seems dumb and you're unmotivated to try. The only reason I had any dip in my GPA in high school was largely due to the fact that Halo 2 came out and I completely stopped caring about high school. Got some B's. Oh well.

    Do I seem negative? Haha. I'm more positive now after this experience, but it was not a good one. It was simply "alright".
  • CalDudCalDud Registered User Posts: 1,756 Senior Member
    Uh, yes, I realized a large portion of it all was due to immaturity and I got my situation sorted out for the most part by now. If you think they're excuses, okay? That's just what I legitimately thought and did. I should've taken school seriously, it was a hell of a lot of immaturity on my part. I don't doubt that it was. It may seem like common sense to study, but it did not to me. You're not the one that has to pay for my mistakes and you don't have to sound like an ass yourself when I talk about my experience.

    Saying I would "blow away the competition" is just saying that I would've worked much harder and actually tried as opposed to sitting there in my classes earning average grades. I would've taken things extremely serious. I'm taking my "new attitude" towards school to my next one, where I'll just work extremely hard every day to get my life back on track. Give up video games and just focus on clubs. Berkeley only looks at my last 60 units anyway for grad school and I've already covered 7 chapters each of my new classes so far ahead of time.
  • Shannon13Shannon13 Registered User Posts: 553 Member
    @Caldud, what do you mean when you say that Berkeley only looks at your last 60 units for grad school?
  • CalDudCalDud Registered User Posts: 1,756 Senior Member
    Never mind what I said on UC Berkeley. I was actually thinking of UCLA when I meant that, sorry. I know they look at your last 60 GPA. A lot of graduate programs do place a heavy emphasis on your last two years. I know I'll be filling out a form that lists all my upper-divison science classes taken and what books I used, etc.

    @Sunburst: I wasn't commenting on the program as a whole. I was talking about the program at my school because I was in the program and I knew a majority of the people in it. We were in the same kind of clubs and classes. Some of the people really did work extremely hard, but I saw a huge amount of cheating coming from a lot of the students in the program as well.
  • hamlin4thhamlin4th Registered User Posts: 66 Junior Member
    Definitely! I should be at Cal by 2014 as long as everything goes according to plan. (although La Jolla's beaches are tempting....)

    I understand how you feel. Sort of. Not to the extent of adult pessimism, but throughout high school I was very much a pessimist, and I believe that kind of attitude is what truly ruined my angst-ridden teenage years. Yeah, my high school wasn't perfect, but I could have made something special out of those four years. It was my choice not to, and instead of my eighteenth birthday and graduation feeling like amazing landmarks in my life, they now represent disappointment and regret. Now community college has rolled around and I've been given a second chance; a redemption quest to positively pursue for the next couple years. I'm glad that you've decided to change too. By your post you sound like quite an intelligent person, and with the right work ethic you can achieve goals that many people have to struggle for. Many people graduate from Berkeley every year and are simply "alumni", but you can have your picture among Earl Warren and Steve Wozniak someday on the Wikipedia article for the university if you go in with the right attitude.
  • art2CSart2CS Registered User Posts: 225 Junior Member
    CCC reaffirms my unquestioning love for this country, as you're surrounded by people taking 2nd/3rd/4th tries at attaining an education - many of whom are subsidized by the state/Federal government. In most other parts of the world this would be unthinkable, and anyone fresh out of high school who couldn't make the cut into a university would be SOL. Only here is a formal education so accessible to the citizenry, and that's one of the reasons why America kicks so much ass. That and the right to bear arms, but I digress.

    That said, you're also surrounded by lots of young, stupid kids who don't realize what opportunity they're crapping on by never showing up to class and half-assing assignments. There are progressively less of them as you take harder classes of course, but that first couple of semesters can be really annoying and detrimental unless you're an adult and you know why you're sitting there in the first place.
  • gettinthatfoshogettinthatfosho Registered User Posts: 167 Junior Member
    @Surburst I'm at SD mesa college. There aren't specific requirements or units required to do honors. I just applied online and used my SAT score as my main qualification (either the SAT score, HS GPA above 3.5, or college GPA above 3.5). I think my school is lacking in honors people and are happy to see people are even interested, so I don't even have to send in my SAT scores (weird huh?). I can elaborate further, but yeah not much of an invite thing I guess. Forever alone!
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