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Main Body

Chapter 1: You and Your College Experience

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“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

~Nelson Mandela.

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 that difficulty?
  • 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 study tips, personal health, financial help, and other resources. Take some time to explore your college’s website and learn what is available—this could save you a lot of time 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. The Center for Academic & Career Advising 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, and 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 collaborate with study groups. There is also a Writing Center, that offers help with writing assignments in any 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 Center 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.
  • 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 using 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 and students with small children.
  • Your instructors. Your instructors are here for YOU and work hard to help you succeed. It’s a good idea to reach out and visit them during their office hours or send an email, especially if you are struggling or that you don’t understand something. Visiting also sends the message that you are serious about the class. Even if you just pop in for a few minutes, introduce yourself, and say hello, it is smart to reach out to your instructors

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 = 4
B = 3
C = 2
D = 1

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

A in Math 120/4 credit hours = 4 × 4(A) = 16

B in English 121/4 credit hours = 4 × 3(B) = 12

C in Humanities/4 credit hours = 4 × 2(C) = 8

A in College Success/1 credit hour = 1 × 4(A) = 4

Then add together those numbers for each course:

16 + 12 + 8 + 4 = 40.

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

40 /13  = 3.0769 = GPA of 3.08.

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.


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, Third Edition 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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