On her first day of community college, Isa Adney cried, she writes in her new book, Community College Success. She didn’t want to be at community college, but her parents couldn’t afford the private college of her dreams. She felt “alone, dejected and lost.” Adney cried at her graduation too, when the president announced she’d won a $110,000 Jack Kent Cooke scholarship to pay for her university education. She earned a bachelor’s degree and will complete a master’s in education this spring. “The secret to success isn’t good fortune or a high IQ — it’s people,” she writes.
A student life adviser at Seminole State College — and a blogger — Adney offers nitty-gritty advice geared to first-generation college students. If you go to class and then go home, you won’t make it, Adney writes. Join a club or a team. Form a study group. Create a network of friends who’ll support you when you’re struggling and help you enjoy the good times.
What I miss most about college is getting to be around those friends all day, every day. Embrace this time in your life and make the most of it. Not only will those connections lead you to job opportunities, they will also lead to self-discovery. . . . Choose your friends wisely and realize the people you choose to surround yourself with will have a tremendous impact on your life. Choose people who challenge you to be better. Choose people who want to go far in their lives and who won’t let anything get in their way. Choose people who lift you up when you’re feeling down and will tudy with you, encourage you when you get a bad grade, and call you when you’re not in class … and have the courage to let go of the friends who don’t.
New students need to learn the “college language,” Adney warns. The book offers specific advice on where to sit on the first day of class (front row) and how to behave (read the syllabus before asking questions, pay attention). The second week is covered too and the rest of the term.
The book tells students how to use office hours: Don’t wait till you’re failing to go in. Talk to your professor — here’s how — even if you don’t need help. But “don’t suck up.”
Choose a major as soon as possible, she writes, but go with what you’re good at, not where you think the money is. Reach out for help on where to transfer. Some of your professors could turn into mentors. And get to know the administrative staff too.
Once you transfer, take the initiative to connect with students and faculty at your four-year institution. And don’t forget reaching out to alumni who could help with career advice or internships. Once again, Adney offers very specific advice on how to solicit an informational interview that might — or might not– lead to something more.
This is all excellent advice. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the book adopted for student success courses.