Heading off to college is both exciting and scary, at the same time. There are several things that you can do, in the planning process, to set yourself up for success. The courses you should take during your first year in community college will vary depending on whether you intend to complete a two-year degree, transfer to a four-year college or university, or are enroll in a certificate program. All community colleges have an academic advising office, which will help you plan your class schedule. You can also talk to faculty members to seek their advice on courses related to your intended academic major. Take as many required and general-education courses as possible during your first year and consider enrolling in student success courses.
Before you choose any courses, you should establish an educational plan, sometimes called a program plan, with an academic adviser or the academic counseling office. This plan will identify the courses you need to take as part of your academic load while enrolled in community college. You will enroll in 12 to 15 credit hours of classes per semester if you are attending full time. Educational plans are part of matriculation, an academic term that covers student enrollment, testing, transferring and graduation.
Nearly all community colleges, as well as four-year universities, require students to show college-level reading, vocabulary and writing skills before they can graduate. First-year English courses include composition and rhetoric; an introduction to literature course is another required class at many colleges. Some students may place out of freshman college English through high scores on placement tests. Even if you are proficient in English, consider taking classes in composition and rhetoric, which teach valuable research, organization and writing skills.
Math and Science
Community colleges also require students to show they are competent in college-level math. Math requirements vary depending upon student majors and educational goals, but college-level algebra is usually required in the basic curriculum at most community colleges. Science courses are also required for the majority of two-year degree and transfer programs. Most community colleges offer science courses for non-science majors, but biology, chemistry and physics may all be required, depending upon individual educational goals.
Take advantage of a first-year experience or study skills course to learn academic success strategies that will help you during your first year in college. Research conducted by the Florida Department of Education confirmed that Florida student success and orientation courses led to higher graduation and transfer rates among students who took the courses. Most student success courses count toward degrees or transfer credits. Students who take the courses are more likely to graduate or achieve other academic goals.
Amy Sterling Casil is an award-winning writer with a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Chapman University in Orange, Calif. She is a professional author and college writing teacher, and has published 20 nonfiction books for schools and libraries.