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Main Body

Chapter 1: You and Your College Experience

Where Are You Now?

Assess your present knowledge and attitudes. Yes  Unsure  No
1.               I understand all the benefits of a college education for my future life. Yes Unsure No
2.               I have clear-cut career interests and have already planned my college program to prepare me best for my future work. Yes Unsure No
3.               I am aware of how my previous educational background has prepared me for college work. Yes Unsure No
4.               I have all the personal traits of a successful college student. Yes Unsure No
5.               I know how to pay attention to gain the most from my classes. Yes Unsure No
6.               I am aware of my college’s policies for academic honesty and behavior on campus. Yes Unsure No
7.               I know where to find all the resources of my college that can help me succeed both academically and personally. Yes Unsure No
8.               I am confident I can earn the grades I need to achieve success in my college courses. Yes Unsure No
9.               I know the first year of college will be the most difficult, but I am fully prepared and take responsibility for my own success. Yes Unsure No
10.           I am taking steps every day to ensure I am successful in every aspect of the college experience. Yes Unsure No

Activity: YOUR College Plan

  • How long do you anticipate being in college?
  • How many courses will you need to take per term to finish college in your planned time period?
  • What do you anticipate will be the most difficult part of completing college?
  • Are you confident you will be able to overcome any possible difficulties in completing college?
  • Were you able to easily answer the questions in Activity 1? How confident do you feel about your plan?

These are important questions to think about for the simple reason that students who have a clear plan and who are prepared to overcome possible obstacles that may arise along the way are much more likely to succeed in college. In other words, just thinking in a positive way about your future can help that future come true!

What Is College, Really

Core Courses, Electives, Majors, and Credits

Every college has its own course requirements for different programs and degrees. This information is available in a printed course catalog or online. While academic advisors are generally assigned to students to help them plot their path through college and take the most appropriate courses, you should also take on this responsibility yourself to ensure you are registering for courses that fit well into your plan for program or degree completion. In general there are three types of courses: Core courses (general education requirements) Required courses in your major (determined by individual academic departments) and Electives (courses you choose freely to complete the total number of college credits needed).

Most important is that you understand what courses you need and how each counts. Study the college catalog carefully and be sure to talk things over fully with your advisor. Don’t just sign up for courses that sound interesting—you might end up taking courses that don’t count toward your degree at all.

College Resources

Students are often surprised to see how much information is available on college websites, including information about college programs, offices, special assistance programs, and so on, as well as helpful information such as studying tips, personal health, financial help, and other resources. Take some time to explore your college’s Web site and learn what is available—this could save you a lot of time in the future if you experience any difficulty.

In addition, many colleges have offices or individuals that can help in a variety of ways. Following are some of the resources your college may have. Learn more about your college’s resources online or by visiting the office of student services or the dean of students.

  • Academic advising office. This Center for Academic & Career Pathways helps students choose courses and plan for a program or degree. You should have a personal meeting at least once every semester with your advisor!
  • Counseling office. LCC Counseling Services helps with personal problems, including health, interpersonal issues, or just to help students deal with the stress of balancing school, work, family, and friends.
  • Financial aid office. If you are presently receiving financial aid or may qualify for assistance, you should know LCC’s Financial Aid Office well.
  • Tutoring or skill centers. At LCC the tutoring office is located in LCC Learning Commons. It’s a special place where students can go for additional help for their courses or to collaborate with study groups. There may be a separate Math Lab, Writing Center, or general study skills center.
  • Computer lab. The LCC’s TLC Computer Lab assists students with technical issues. It offers a place where students can go to get help or just use a computer, check out a different program or print papers for class.
  • Career guidance or placement office. LCC Career and Employment Services can help you find a student job or internship, plan for your career after graduation, and receive career counseling.
  • Office for students with disabilities. LCC’s Office for Student Access provides various services to help students with disabilities adapt to the college environment. You can also review Disability Law on LCC’s website.
  • Lucero – The focus of the LUCERO Program is to create a positive connection for Latino students with each other and with LCC and to develop exceptional academic, leadership, and professional skills while learning about and celebrating diversity and culture.
  • Office of student affairs or student organizations. LCC’s Student Life and Ombudsperson offers students opportunities to participate in college-sponsored groups of like-minded others, often based on major, personal beliefs and values, sports, politics, and many more. Additionally, the ombudsperson-equity advocate provides students with information about existing channels for conflict resolution, appeals and grievances, support services available at the college, and assists students in the use of these services and procedures.
  • Library – LCC’s Library is staffed with professionals whose main focus is to assist students in finding needed resources. Don’t hesitate to find the reference desk and get to know the reference librarians. They all wear buttons that say “Please Bother Me” and they mean it! Reference librarians are educators who are there to help you.
  • Physical Fitness Opportunities. LCC offers a Fitness Center free of charge to all students, alumni, faculty, and Staff at its Main and West campuses. Take advantage of this to improve or maintain your personal health, which promotes academic success.
  • Non-Traditional Student Services –The Adult Resource Center offers financial support and referral to community resources to adult students returning to college, students with small children.
  • Your instructors. It never hurts to ask a friendly instructor if he or she knows of any additional college resources you haven’t yet discovered. There may be a brand new program on campus, or a certain department may offer a service not widely promoted through the college Web site.

How Much Do Grades Matter?

How to Calculate Your GPA

Because of various requirements for maintaining a GPA at a certain level, you may need to know how to calculate your GPA before grades come out at the end of the term. The math is not difficult, but you need to consider both the grade in every course and the number of credit hours for that course in order to calculate the overall GPA. Here is how you would do the calculation in the traditional four-point scale. First, translate each letter grade to a numerical score:

A = 4B = 3C = 2D = 1

Then multiply each grade’s numerical score by the number of units or hours for that course:

B in Math 101 × 5 hours = 3 × 5 = 15B in English 4 × 3 hours = 3 × 3 = 9C in Humanities 1 × 5 hours = 2 × 5 = 10A in College Success × 3 hours = 4 × 3 = 12

Then add together those numbers for each course:

15 + 9 + 10 + 12 = 46.

Then divide that total by the total number of credit hours:

46 / 16 = 2.87 = GPA of 2.87.

Chapter Takeaways

  • The first year of college is the most critical. Make the commitment to overcome any obstacles to a successful transition and stay committed and motivated to succeed.
  • Although college students differ in many ways, all successful students share certain common traits, including a positive attitude, effective critical thinking skills, good time management skills, effective study skills, interactions with instructors and other students, and good habits for personal health and financial stability.
  • Working with your academic advisor and taking advantage of the many resources available at your college are key actions to ensure success.
  • Understanding the larger characteristics of college success leads to a richer college experience, supplementing the value of good grades.
  • While it may take a few weeks to develop all the skills needed for success in college, there are many steps you can begin taking today to get moving in the right direction.


Check off every action on the following list that you plan to use in your first year of college to help you be as successful as you can be.

_____ Approach classes and homework exactly as I did in high school

_____ View college as a vital experience preparing me for the rest of my life

_____ Decide immediately what I want to major in and never change my mind as I move forward through my courses

_____ Manage my time well so that I have enough time to study and start on assignments well ahead of the due dates

_____ Attend classes when I think something important will be said and I can’t find someone to borrow class notes from

_____ Adopt a positive attitude and work on staying motivated to succeed

_____ Give up everything else in life while in college

_____ Talk to my advisor so that I take only those classes where the teacher’s style matches my own learning style

_____ Form study groups with other students different from me so I can take advantage of how they learn as well

_____ Be sure to tell all my instructors what I think they want to hear, not what I might really think

_____ Sit in the back row where I won’t be noticed or get asked a question I might not be able to answer

_____ Make good friendships and interact with a wide range of people on campus

_____ Pay very close attention in class so that I don’t have to be concerned with reviewing the course material later

_____ Prepare for each class every day

_____ If I read too slowly, look for a CliffsNotes summary of the reading so I don’t lose time reading whole textbook chapters

_____ Talk to other students to find out what classes and instructors are easiest to keep my GPA up

_____ Take as many online courses as I can so that I can sleep late and get help from friends doing online assignments

_____ To save time, go first to a friendly instructor to learn about any resources the college may have to help me

_____ Take it easy my first year in college, not worrying about grades, to avoid burnout

_____ Check out tutoring services only as a last resort at the end of the term if I’m in danger of failing

_____ Check the class syllabus for important assignments and exam dates and begin scheduling study periods well ahead of time

_____ Get to know my instructors and other students in the class right away


CC By licenseEnd of Chapter Credits  You and Your College Experience by Tammy Root and Martha Madigan is adapted from Saylor.Org Academy-Try College 101 and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License


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ACAD100: Success Pathways at Lansing Community College by Root,T, Eaton, T, Madigan, M and Menefee, E. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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