Checklist for Commuter Students

Checklist for Commuter Students

Everyone says that starting college is a very exciting part of your life but no one really talks about the stress that comes with preparing for college. There are things you need to figure out such as: will you be living on campus or with family? How will you get to and from school? When thinking of commuting you need to take in consideration a checklist that would make your commuting experience more enjoyable. Here are some tips to make your commute easier:

Staying Safe

Whether you are commuting by public transportation or by your own vehicle, one of the most important things is staying safe. Sometimes you may stay in school very late and by the time you head home it is dark or you may need to leave home very early in the morning. No matter the time, here are some tips on staying safe:

  • Tools*

Pepper spray, taser and emergency car kit are all helpful tools that can be used during an emergency. Read the instructions on how to properly use these tools and only use them for emergencies. 

  • Emergency SOS programs

Android and Apple have an emergency mode on smartphones to help during difficult situations. Depending on the company, these programs allow you to add emergency contacts, call emergency services and put your phone on ultra power saving mode. 

More information for apple users, samsung, and android users.

Nutrition

Sometimes you are running late and forget to make yourself breakfast or maybe you did not pack lunch. One way to avoid this is by meal planning! There are many ways to meal plan, it is done according to your lifestyle. If you have never meal planned before, here is a some tips for beginners:

 When meal planning, it is important to save on produce! Here are some guides to CalFresh, SNAP, and food banks that may be available near you. 

Entertainment

Have a long commute? One of the discouraging things about having a long commute is knowing how to fill in the time. 

  • Listening to a podcast, music, or audiobook  

Student discounts for Apple Music and Spotify

  • Studying

If you have an exam that day, you can review your notes or study guides on the way to school. This is helpful because you are briefly reviewing your notes before your exam to make sure you don’t forget some last minute details. 

Discounted Bus Passes for Students

If you will be taking public transportation to get to and from school, you will need a bus pass. The cost for a bus pass can accumulate but luckily there are programs that offer discounts for students! Additionally, these offers have unlimited rides for your semester/quarter.**

  • Orange County and Irvine Students
  • Bay Area Students
    • Clipper Card 
      • Will be able to use on Caltrain Golden Gate Transit, Marin Transit, Muni, SamTrans, etc… Check the FAQ for more information
      • Must have an income level below $89,320

*keep in mind some places do not allow pepper spray, tasers or anything sharp inside their perimeters 

**rules may vary, visit websites for more information

Reasons to Take Community College Summer Classes

Reasons to Take Community College Summer Classes

Summer is just around the corner and for some that may mean relaxing and recharging by going on camping trips or just hanging out with family and friends. But for others, summer break is a chance to catch up or get ahead in classes. Taking a summer class at a community college allows students to narrow their focus on a single subject – rather than your typical four, five or even six classes during the longer semesters. Although taking a summer class may not sound like a fun way to spend your summer break, taking these classes offer several major benefits. Here are some benefits if you are considering taking a summer class:

Benefit 1: You save money 

Whether you are a high school or college student, taking summer classes at a community college can save you money in the long run. Community college course credits are typically more affordable than those offered at universities. At a CC you may pay only a few hundred dollars or even less than that if you qualify for fee waivers. At a four year university, you may end up paying a few thousand dollars for the same course credit at a CC. Saving money is important even if you are still in high school. 

Additionally if you are a high school student and you want to get ahead in your coursework for college, taking summer classes at a CC may put you ahead of the curve when you apply to college. When you first start college, you will be placed at different levels of mathematics or english classes. To be placed in the correct level course, you need to take a placement test. If you took advanced placement or even college courses, these may count towards your college credits and you will be placed in more advanced courses. This is a benefit as you won’t waste time taking placement tests and in classes you already passed. 

Benefit 2: You are able to transfer to a four year institution or graduate faster

If you started your higher education at a community college your main goal may be to transfer in two years. For some fields, like STEM fields, transferring in two years may be challenging as there are many courses to complete. But taking summer classes can help you complete your courses faster and in turn, transfer to a four year institution faster. 

Since taking summer classes gives you the opportunity to earn more credits, this brings you closer to graduating faster. 

Benefit 3: You complete your core courses and/or are able to catch up on credits 

Summer semesters are shorter than your fall and spring semesters, this may be seen as either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you see this. It may be seen as a bad thing because it means you are learning a semester’s worth of material in five or six weeks. The plus side of this is that you are able to put all of your time and energy into a single subject rather than juggling multiple courses. So if you are dreading to take a challenging course during a long semester, consider taking it during the summer. 

Benefit 4: Opportunity to study abroad 

If summer vacation is about traveling and experiencing new things, why not do it while getting ahead in your studies? Many study abroad programs take place during the summer, and depending on that the school has to offer, it could be a great opportunity to both learn and travel.

California Promise Programs: Free Community College

California Promise Programs: Free Community College

What are college promise programs? 

College Promise Programs are commitments to fund a college education for every eligible student advancing on the path to earn a college degree, a certificate, and/or credits that transfer to a four-year university. These are additional programs that students can apply to and get at minimum their first two semesters of community college financially covered along with mentoring, summer bridge, and other academic support.

Who is eligible? What are the requirements? 

Eligibility ranges by the program. Some programs ask you to be a first-time college student and some do not. Another eligibility requirement can include GPA, family income, and the number of units being taken per semester (full-time vs. part-time student). These requirements vary by program, however, because California offers over 50 programs, it is certain you will find one for you!

How can I apply?  

To apply to a college promise, please follow Catalog of Local and State College Promise Programs to find the list of college promise programs that apply to you. In this list, the college promise programs are split between statewide and local programs. Statewide programs mean geographic eligibility allows students from anywhere in the state to apply, while local programs are open to only those students in the area.  This list includes the program description, requirements, and contact information.  

Here are two examples of statewide programs that may be open to you: 

Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan

  • Is available to California residents attending the state’s UC schools who have a total family income below $80,000 and meet other campus-specific grant aid requirements
  • Covers four semesters and can be used at UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Los Angeles, UC Merced, UC Riverside, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, or UC Santa Cruz toward a Bachelor’s degree
  • Provides support including textbook vouchers, transportation benefits, and housing assistance. 
  • Students can be part-time or full time 
  • For more information, visit admission.universityofcalifornia.edu/tuitionfinancial-aid/types-of-aid/blue-and-goldopportunity-plan.html or contact (800) 207- 1710 or ucinfo@applyucsupport.net. 

The California College Promise Grant

  • Available to California students who qualify for at least one of the following: Cal Grant, an unmet need of $1,104 or more, is a current recipient of TANF/CalWORKS, (SSI/SSP), has certification/documentation from the California Department of Veterans Affairs, California National Guard Adjutant General, California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board, or another public agency that you are eligible for a dependent’s fee waiver; or has a family income equal to or less than 150% of the federal poverty line
  •  The Promise covers four or more semesters and can be used at any of California’s community colleges for a vocational award or for the general education requirements needed for an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree. 
  • For more information, visit home.cccapply.org/money/california-college-promise-grantor contact (916) 327-5356 or pdorr@cccco.edu.

While these are just two of the many California College Promise programs, there are several others that can fit your location and needs. There are people and programs willing to help you as a first-generation college student, all you need to do is apply! College is for you.

Catalog of Local and State College Promise Programs (Pages 10-27) 

California Promise Programs Spreadsheet (List Doc, Statewide+Local) 

 

Benefits of Starting at a Community College

Benefits of Starting at a Community College

Sometimes continuing your higher education at a traditional four-year institution is not your cup of tea. This may be because you are unsure of what you want to study or you are looking to stay local. 

There is a negative stigma towards community college that it is not “real” college, that it is not good, that you won’t be challenged educationally, or that you won’t be able to advance from there. This is not true. Additionally, high schoolers may be more inclined to live the 4-year college experience and feel as if they won’t get that from a community college. 

We had a chance to speak with students who went to a community college and they shared the following benefits of starting your education at a community college. Ultimately, community college can be a stepping stone into your higher education journey. 

Benefit 1: You Save Money on Tuition

Many students save significant money on tuition by studying for two years at a community college before transferring to a four-year institution. As the national student loan debt has now reached $1.71 trillion, the rising cost of tuition can lead to having to take out significant student loans. In contrast, community colleges in California have the least expensive tuition and fees in the nation. Keep in mind that tuition is not the full cost of going to college, and other things such as books, transportation, housing, food, health care, and other expenses will impact how much money you will have to pay. If you have a solid plan and support to afford non-tuition expenses, community college can be an affordable option. 

  • California Promise Grant: Additionally there are state programs, such as the California College Promise Grant, that waive enrollment fees and can guarantee paid tuition for your first year of community college. 

Benefit 2: Smaller Class Sizes

Besides financial aid, attending a community college has educational perks such as smaller class size, academic flexibility, and school-life balance. 

  • Smaller class sizes: Many community colleges offer smaller class sizes than larger schools, meaning that students can find more personal attention and one-on-one time with their instructors. 
    • This is beneficial for students who like to learn at their own pace and like to ask multiple questions. 

Benefit 3: Academic Flexibility 

If you are a student who struggled academically in high school or are unsure of whether you want to invest your time and money in college, attending a community college is a good introduction to higher education. 

  • Academic Flexibility: This is because if you are interested in taking one or two classes per semester, you will not feel out of place as most community college students attend school part-time. 

Benefit 4: School-life Balance 

Attending a community college allows you the opportunity to stay close with family and friends. If you are not ready to move away from your hometown, this is a great opportunity for you to receive a great education while also balancing your family and friends. 

Community college is a perfect choice and a great way to begin your higher education journey! Do not let anyone tell you otherwise. There is a stigma attached to attending community college, but community college is college. 

Applying to Community College

Applying to Community College

Community college (CC) is an excellent choice for continuing your education! There are tons of benefits that make attending a CC a viable option. Below are some common questions about community college.  

Q: Who can apply to community college?

A: Anyone with a high school degree or equivalent (i.e., a GED) can apply to community college. That is the only requirement besides being able to pay for your classes, which may be free. No extra-curricular activities, volunteer experience, high school grades or anything extra is needed for your admission. As long as you have that diploma, you’re in!

Q: When can I apply to community college?

A: Whenever! Literally, whenever feels right for you. Before the beginning of every semester, community colleges will accept applications for priority enrollment. Besides a priority deadline, however, most community colleges take applications on a rolling-basis. This means there are no deadlines that truly restrict you from joining. You can join in the middle of an academic year, such as spring semester, instead of having to wait for the beginning of a new academic year in the fall. Check out the community college you’re interested in attending for any important dates to be aware of.

Q: Where can I go to community college?

A: Anywhere in California! California community colleges are open to all California residents. You don’t even have to live in the same county that a CC is in; however, you should choose a CC based on what will benefit you most. For example, you may be interested in attending a CC close to home so that your commute is short; maybe you want to attend a CC with a pool because you want to try swimming as a sport. There are 116 community colleges in California to pick from. Visit this website to help you narrow your choices! 

Q: I’m ready to go to community college, what are my next steps?

A: Congratulations on your decision! Follow these steps:

  • Pick a community college you wish to attend.
  • Visit the community college website to see their application materials.
  • Submit your application.
  • Meet with a counselor to ensure you’re enrolled in the right courses.
  • Start school!

Quick Guide for Undocumented Students Applying to the CSU as a First-time Freshmen + Transfer Student

Applying to California State Universities is an incredible accomplishment! Congrats to you! Sometimes the process can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. There are several resources out there to help you! Including, our website! So you are in the right place. Whether you are applying to a CSU as a first time student or as a transfer student, the process can be overwhelming. Keep on reading to get started! 

* This quick guide is intended to support undocumented first-time freshmen and transfer students applying to the CSUs for Fall 2021* To check which CSU’s are still accepting applications click here. 

Applying to the CSU as a first-time student

Overview of Applying to the CSU (for full details and steps click here: Quick Guide for Undocumented Students Applying to the CSU as a First-time Freshmen)   

  1. Visit the Cal State Apply page (Cal State Apply | CSU
  2. Completing Your Profile
    • Degree goal: Select “First Bachelor’s Degree” 
    • Current educational goal: As a first year applicant, you will choose “Graduating High School Senior or equivalent” with or without college credit. This is based upon classes completed and your academic transcripts. 
    • Previous attendance: If you have attended a CSU campus before and are returning to complete an earlier program, make that clear. Contact the campus to find out how to apply for re-admission. 
    • U.S. Military status: Indicate your current or anticipated U.S. Military status at the time of application. 
    • Residency: Indicate if you have or will need an F1 student or J1 exchange visa. Undocumented 
  3. My Application Dashboard: Your dashboard gives you access and details to each part of the application you need to complete. The four sections you must submit are:
    • Personal Information 
    • Academic History 
    • Supporting Information 
    • Program Materials

NOTE: In order to be officially coded as an AB540/ SB68 student and pay resident fees at the CSU, you must submit your affidavit and an official copy of your transcripts/attendance records to the Admissions offices at each of the universities where you applied. Check with each campus for their deadline.

  1. Choosing Your Programs
    • Selecting programs: Click on the plus icon next to add programs/major. Add alternatives if desired.
    • Residency: The state where you claimed residency in the profile section will already be entered. Visit your profile section to change it. Select the state you claim as your permanent home. If you qualify for AB540/SB68, choose “yes” for California residency. Enter the date your present stay began.
    • Race and Ethnicity: Indicate how you identify. You may decline to answer these questions.
    • Parent/Guardian Information 
    • Other Information
  2. Academic History 
    • High Schools Attended
    • High School Coursework 
    • College Coursework 
  3. Submitting Your Application 
    • Be sure to review each section to ensure that your information has been properly entered. Mistakes could complicate or prevent your admission to the CSU. 
    • When you apply through Cal State Apply, you are automatically considered for an application fee waiver based on the information you entered.
    • REMEMBER: Undocumented students who will qualify for AB 540/SB 68 non-resident tuition exemption can be considered for the fee waiver.

For the full guide, go Quick Guide for Undocumented Students Applying to the CSU as a First-time Freshmen 

Applying to the CSU as a transfer student

Overview of Applying to the CSU as a transfer student (for full details and steps click here: Quick Guide for Undocumented Students Applying to the CSU as a Transfer Student   

  1. Visit the Cal State Apply page (Cal State Apply | CSU
  2. Completing Your Profile 
    • Level of degree you’re seeking: Select “First Bachelor’s Degree” 
    • Entry status: As a transfer applicant, you have two options:
      • If you are transferring with an Associate Degree for Transfer, select “Transferring with an Associate Degree for Transfer (AA-T, AS-T) from a California Community College.” Indicate your community college and ADT program. You may enter up to two. 
      • If you are transferring from a CA community college or another college, select “Transferring from a California community college or from another two-year or four-year institution.” 
  3. Choosing Your Programs 
    • Selecting programs: Click on the plus icon next to add programs/major. Add alternatives if desired. 
    • You may be asked to select an alternate choice for certain programs that are impacted. Impacted programs are majors that receive more applicants than available spaces. You will automatically be enrolled in this alternate program should your first choice become unavailable.
  1. My Application Dashboard 
    • Personal Information 
    • Academic History 
    • Supporting Information 
    • Program Materials

NOTE: In order to be officially coded as an AB540/ AB2000/SB68 student and pay resident fees at the CSU, you must submit your affidavit and an official copy of your transcripts/attendance records to the Admissions offices at each of the universities where you applied. Check with each campus for their deadline.

  1. Submitting Your Application 
    • Be sure to review each section to ensure that your information has been properly entered. Mistakes could complicate or prevent your admission to the CSU. 
    • When you apply through Cal State Apply, you are automatically considered for an application fee waiver based on the information you entered.
    • Payment: Cal State Apply charges $70 to apply to each program
    • REMEMBER: Undocumented students who will qualify for AB 540/SB 68 non-resident tuition exemption can be considered for the fee waiver.

For the full guide, go Quick Guide for Undocumented Students Applying to the CSU as a Transfer Student

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Housing and Meals Explained

Now, that you’ve chosen your college your next step is planning! Will you be dorming on campus or live at home? What meal option will you choose? These are new and sometimes confusing choices to make. Sometimes, your financial aid may not cover these costs. Be sure you know how much this will all cost, so you know how to budget. Each campus has its own system with unique options and prices. Make sure you know before you go. 

 

To learn more about housing and meal options when comparing schools, download this guide Housing and Meals Explained.  Guide provided by DecidED 

 

 

Why Graduation Rate Matters

The graduation rate of the college you are thinking of attending is an important factor. It can tell you a lot about the value of education at the college. 

A low graduation rate can indicate several reasons why the college may not be the best fit for you. Some reasons include a lack of student support services or guidance and a tendency to have students take more remedial courses. Make sure you do a bit of research before you commit! 

 

To learn more about why graduation rate matters, download this guide Why Graduation Rates Matter. Guide provided by DecidED 

 

 

Diversity

When choosing what college to attend, one of the most important components to consider is the campus’s diversity. Not only in terms of race or ethnicity of the student population but also considering how diverse the campus is in terms of cultural background, geographic location, sexual orientations, gender identities, and abilities. These components tend to get overlooked because we are caught up in the beauty of the campus or its reputation.

Diversity is crucial. You must be able to relate to your peers and feel comfortable knowing that your values align with the campus you will earn your degree in. 

 

To learn more about why and how to consider diversity when comparing schools, download this guide Diversity. Guide provided by DecidED