Attending Community Colleges in California
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Attending Community Colleges in California
Our son will be attending community college this fall. He has to take Basic
Skills Assessment tests in the summer. I'm looking for comments on how
difficult are these tests and what is the best way to prepare.
My daughter took the placement tests for mathematics and English (they
also have one for chemistry) at Ohlone College when she first enrolled
for summer courses. They were very clear about the test procedure,
scoring and placement. They also included sample tests.
http://www.ohlone.edu/org/placement/studyguides.html. She took it in
the study center with lots of other kids and found it a lot less
stressful than the SATs.
The purpose of the placement exams is to make sure the student does
not need preliminary courses. It is purely to assess the student's
skills in these topics. All California community colleges have web
information on these tests. Have the student review the requirements.
The student should also make an appointment to talk to an academic
counselor about the process and discuss interests and goals. After the
placement test is done, an appropriate course schedule can be designed
with the student and counselor.
My son is in his 2nd year at Berkeley Community College. He took only
the Math assessment test, which he did poorly on. (He also did poorly
on high school algebra.) He said that he wished he had brushed up on
the basics: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division,
operations with fractions/decimals, and basic algebra. Basically
review the math you had in high school, he said. Otherwise you don't
pass the assessment and you have to spend a couple of semesters
There is some good info on the tests here:
Hope that helps
Our HS senior is considering going to Butte CC in Oroville. The
school does not have dorms per se, but Butte students can live
at Craig Hall, which is near Chico State and 15 miles from the
Butte campus. Free bus shuttles run all day. Anybody's college
student try this arrangement? Our senior was rejected by the
CSUs but would like to go away. Would like to hear from other
parents whose students went away to a community college.
My 19 year old son attends Butte. He does not live in student
housing, he shares an apt. with his 20 year old brother who is a
junior at CSU Chico. Housing in Chico is CHEAP and plentiful compared
to the Bay Area. My son is very happy with Butte. He is rather
introverted and into video games...not a terribly adventurous person.
But he feels safe in Chico and at Butte and finds the town easy to
navigate. The bus from Chico to Butte is included in tuition and
picks up all over town. Have you visited the campus? It is incredibly
beautiful! All in all, it depends on your kid. He can get into lots
of trouble being in an environment where adults are scarce and
drinking is the norm. The 'party' reputation of Chico is real, the
incoming student body tends to be fairly immature and definitely
focused on drinking (both of my sons have expressed dismay at the
time/attention spent pursuing this past time). On the other hand,
Chico has a wonderful tight small town feel and lots of opportunities
to become part of the community if one wishes. The biggest mistake
the students make is to not see themselves as residents and to take
advantage of the community instead to becoming part of it.
I Love Chico!
Our high school senior is lonely and isolated and has ''dumbed down''
to get through high school. He is immature. He cannot get into a
state university with a dorm due to lacking one year of science and
math. He was in spec ed classes and these do not count towards a
state school. We cannot figure where to send him or should he live at
home and commute locally? I don't see how he would mature doing this.
Yet, is it fair to send him off to a community college with a dorm in
the state where he doesn't know anybody, how to register for classes,
etc. Thoughts pls. Thx.
On the California Community College website you can find the names
of the nine or ten California community colleges that have dorms.
A couple of them are in Northern California. This might be a good
option for your son because these community colleges are in
California and you can visit them and check out the possibilities.
I knew someone with special ed needs whose parents sent him to a
jc with a dorm. It was a complete disaster. He spent his time
partying and failed his classes. He ended up moving back with his
parents. Then he took classes at a jc close to home which worked
out a little better. His parents were then able to look over his
shoulder to make sure he stayed on track something they couldn't
do when he lived far away.
You don't say if your son is interested in going to college,
interested in going away to college, what he might study there,
and what his goals are. Have you asked him? If he's not sure,
then staying at home and commuting to a nearby community college
might be the best thing to start. Check to see if the community
college has programs he is interested in, especially if he wants a
certificate program. You really need to determine his motivation
and what he is striving for. If he's not sure, then perhaps he
should talk with a counselor about it.
Your school should have a transition counselor for students who
have been in special ed. If your child is in BUSD, talk to their
case manager (the person who wrote the IEP) and if that doesn't
work Diane Colborn, the BHS vp for special ed. I think you need to
work with someone who can look at your child's IEP and help you
make decisions with that in mind. You could also check with the Ed
Roberts Center (located across the street from Ashby BART) and see
if there is a transition counselor you and your child can speak
with. You could also call the Disability Rights Education and
Defense Fund and speak to a parent/student advocate who could help
you figure out where to go from here. Even if your child has been
mainstreamed in the last year or two, you can use the test results
to establish a need for services.
We can only afford to send our senior to a commuter college (not
UC) for the first two years and then he can go away to either to
a state or UC school for his last two years. Question: I know
community college is far less expensive than a state school, but
what are the pros and cons of going to each with the idea of
transferring to another school for the last two years?
We live in Berkeley and our son's going to San Francisco Community
College for a few years were all pros. In this family, we have nothing
but praise for CCSF in particular and for the community college system
in general. Our son was able to take all the rigorous classes he
wanted, because he was in the CCSF soccer team and athletes have
priority in choosing their classes. He had great and inspirational
professors and he was very motivated to do well. He graduated last June
with a 3,9 GPA, and he was accepted to all the UC's he applied to as a
transfer student, that is, CAL, UCLA, Davis, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara,
and San Diego. He is now a junior at UCLA and he recently found out
that he could graduate in one and a half years. He is an Anthropology
Community College is a great decision. Good luck
Community college advantage: 1) It's easier to transfer to a UC from
community college than from a state college. 2)If the student completes
all general ed classes required for state and UC campuses they can
graduate with an IGETC which then gives them full credit for completing
general ed at time of entry--if the particular campus they go to has
other additional or different general ed requirements, this doesn't
apply to the student with an IGETC. They are ''home free.'' 3) At least
for our particular students, there was a lot more lee way for
floundering around at a community college, for better or worse. Our
community college student took a LONG TIME to finish her first two
years, and had a lot of false starts, but ended up with a reasonable
GPA and transferring to a UC (albeit not Berkeley, but one she is happy
with). She probably would have flunked out of a CSU.
State college advantage: 1) Staying at one school for the full four
years is a possibility. 2) More likely to have career faculty in lower
division instead of those who teach along with a lot of other things,
and may let such details as turning in grades lapse (at the community
college) or adjuncts or advanced grad students (at UC). 3) Lower
division classes are smaller than at UC. 4) There really are advisors
in majors--the community college counselors did not specialize. This
has been very valuable for our son who is at a CSU.
All that said, it depends a lot on which community college and which
CSU are being compared. Diablo Valley College has a much more
structured curriculum than Laney in my experience, while CSU East Bay
is experimenting heavily with on-line classes, which made it a
non-starter for my college students, who needed personal contact with
faculty to keep them on track.
Experience with both
My daughter is looking at schools and is really interested in going
to Cal Poly. But depending on the economy (ours) and whether or not
she can get in, she is looking into Cuesta CC as a backup plan. We
would love to hear any personal stories about Cuesta--does it feel
like a go away to college experience living in a dorm; how easy is it
to transfer into Cal Poly after two years; does the success of
transferring depend on what major you select or is it more dependent
on your GPA; do the Cuesta kids get to know the Cal Poly kids so that
coming in as a junior would not be so difficult; how are the
classes/professors/advisors at Cuesta? Any input would be greatly
My daughter is in her 2nd year at Cuesta. The first year she lived at
a private dorm, called Mustang Village, that is near Cal Poly. It was
funky and there was a big party scene but she had some great roommates
and moved into an apartment with one of them this summer. She has 2
other roommates, one goes to Cuesta and one goes to Cal Poly. The one
at Cal Poly transferred this year from Cuesta. She said it wasn't
easy because there were a lot of things she had to do and had to keep
on top of but from what I gather Cuesta is a feeder into Cal Poly.
There are many professors from Cal Poly that also teach at Cuesta.
Because San Luis Obispo is such a small town Cuesta is not a commuter
school. Mustang Village will put your daughter with other juniors
going to Cuesta and on the application they ask questions about the
students so they can place them with other students that like to party
or don't, students that care about neatness or not etc. It worked out
really well for my daughter in that regard. It does seem like the
students from both schools mix quite a bit. My daughter wants to
transfer to Cal Poly but she has not started the process yet. My
daughter has been really happy at Cuesta and the level of education
seems really good from what I've seen. If you have further questions
feel free to email me.
From my niece who was there a few years ago, but not with the
intention of transfering to Cal Poly:
''Cuesta has a great staff (teachers and administration). I always
found them knowledgeable and helpful. I think no matter which college
you go to it is important to live in the dorms. I would imagine it is
a little bit of a different experience because Poly is walking
distance from the dorms and Cuesta is about a 10 min drive. But it is
a tradition of going to college and it helps create friendships just
the same. Also, Cal Poly has many groups on campus and you don't
always have to be a Poly student to join them. I really loved my time
-aunt of former Cuesta student
I'm curious if anyone can tell me if Berkeley City College has any
for students with ADD. My son will be taking Spanish and Math, classes
failed twice at Berkeley Independent Studies. His math teacher there
that languages and math were particularly hard for students with ADD.
problem is less about comprehension than about the tedium of the work
him, but it is also about remembering what he has learned in those
He's very bright and does well in English and History. He's trying to
to a 4 year college but has to pass these hurdles first. Anyone have
experience with this?
Dear Still Hoping:
My daughter, who has been diagnosed with ''mild ADD'' will be attending
BCC for the first time this spring, so I don't have any direct experiences
yet for her. One bit of good advice I received from another Parents of Teens
poster was to check out the instructors on ''ratemyprofessor.com''. It
consists of students' ratings of their professors, so you get what you pay for
(those who do poorly tend to complain the most, whether or not it was the
professor's fault!). But it may give you an idea of who to steer towards or who to
steer away from. There is a counseling center for students with
disabilities, but you have to have a doctor's evaluation of ADD in order to use it, I
believe. It looks like they have a lot of resources there but you have to be more
your own advocate than in high school.
You are welcome to e-mail me, though I don't have much more info. yet.
I've been hoping my daughter would have a way to connect to other younger
students at BCC, as she is only 16 and starting college full time.
My 16 year old daughter will shortly be ''done'' with high school,
having taken the CHSPE exam because she wants to move on. She gets
almost all A's but often doesn't feel challenged or respected in the
high school environment. She is very self-directed, a bit of a loner
who still manages to have ''followers'' due to her intensity. She
often relates more to her teachers than her classmates.
She will be starting classes at Berkeley City College this spring.
We're starting with BCC because it is easy for her to reach, close to
my work, and has classes in digital photography, which is her eventual
profession goal. I think she can handle the college work
organizationally and hopefully socially. I've explained to her that
not all community college teachers will be inspired or skilled in
teaching, just as not all high school (or university!) teachers are.
I am interested in talking to other parents of teens who have left
high school and started college early and in talking to anyone who can
recommend good instructors at BCC or Laney, either for art and
computer tech courses or general UC transfer courses.
My son took the CHSPE at 16 and then left high school after
the 1st semester of his junior year. He had been quite happy
socially at HS, but quite unhappy with classes and school
work, and his grades were sliding. He enrolled in Expression
College for Digital Arts, in Emeryville, and started about a
month after leaving HS. They have a 30-month, year-round
immersion program to complete a BA--it's quite structured,
with from 24 to 36 hours per week in class, plus additional
work outside to complete projects. He graduated on time,
having missed maybe 5 or 6 days over the whole program. It
really was an education that he chose, and for him, that
made a huge difference.
Not all of his teachers were terrific, but some were. Some
courses were definitely more interesting than others. But he
bonded with a batch of students all going through the
program at the same time, and they helped encourage and
motivate each other. He was the youngest by a stretch, but
that didn't seem to matter.
He is 20 now, and finding that he has to face the
after-college questions earlier than many of his friends
--like ''now what do I do with my life?'' He has a couple of
part time jobs, and is gradually sorting out ''what next''.
In some ways I think the hardest thing is being at a
different stage now than his closest friends, who are still
the ones he went to HS with. Plus most of them went away to
college, and he has missed that experience. (He still lives
with us, and given the cost of living around here, probably
will for at least another year.)
For him, leaving HS early and switching to college was
absolutely the right thing to do. Going to a very structured
program really helped. I'm not sure things would have worked
as well if he had been at a Community College, but it's hard
to know, since he didn't go that way.
As for art classes in our local Community Colleges--My
husband took a number of art courses at Laney and Merritt in
the late 90s, and had some really terrific instructors. Some
have moved on, but I know that Dorcas Moulton is still at
Merritt--she is quite good (watercolor).
I hope the transition goes well for your daughter. Good luck!
I am helping my senior BHS son decide what community
college to go to. He is primarily looking at Santa Barbara
City College or Cabrillo (Santa Cruz). His main goal is to
do a transfer program into communications, journalism or
film studies for his bachelors. We're looking for feedback
on the student experience at SBCC versus Cabrillo. For
Cabrillo where do kids live? And for SBCC is it better to
live close by or are the dorms near UCSB a good option
(Fontainebleu). He's concerned about how much partying
(alcohol at SBCC or pot at Cabrillo) goes on, since he
knows he'll do better with fewer temptations. Other
possibility is Cuesta in San Luis Obispo, but it seems
pretty small and isolated...thoughts?
My daughter is a freshman at UCSB and loves going to school
there. She lives on campus in a small room with 2
roommates. They get along well and all study hard. My
daughter is academic and goes to all her classes and
discussion sections. She joined a sorority and does
community service work mostly. They are only required to
attend one meeting per week. The sororities do not put on
any parties. They stress doing well academically and keep
track of students grade point averages. During Halloween
week police patrolled the streets of Isla Vista and only
residents could enter. No alcohol was allowed outdoors and
my daughter's roommate's brother was arrested for drinking a
beer on his porch. I was concerned about drugs and alcohol
and partying. So far it does not seem to be an issue on campus.
I grew up in Aptos and I know that Cabrillo College has
fantastic reputation these days. My brother, a life-long
student, has taken classes there forever, and my nephew got
his AA degree there recently and has now trasfered to Cal
State Monterey Bay. He had a great experience at Cabrillo.
My nephew lived at home, but I think students must find
apartments to share. Housing has got to be expensive. On
the plus side, there is lots to do in the area -- the beach
and mountains are right there and the towns of Capitola and
Santa Cruz are lively.
I don't know anything about either Cabrillo or SBCC but I'm
a firm believer in the community college system. Great
teaching and the cost can't be beat. Several thoughts---one
reason that I went ahead and sent our kids to 4 year schools
was so they could have the freshman dorm experience.
It was always something that I thought I missed out on by
going to Delta College (in Stockton) and then transferring
to Cal. There are community colleges with dorms; see
http://www.cccco.edu/find/dormitories.htm if that's appealing.
Also, you might decide between the two community colleges by
looking to see which school he wants to transfer to. Is he
planning on transferring to the UC system? He might end up
wanting to transfer to the school near the community college
he attends and I don't think that UCSC has much
communications or journalism to offer. I don't know about
film studies. But good to look ahead.
My son, now 17, dropped out of Berkeley High, and passed the
high school proficiency exam this past summer. He's now at
Peralta, and enjoying school for the first time since
starting high school (and doing well!). Does anyone know
anything about transferring to a 4 year college, other than
a UC? UC has told me that they look solely at the grades
obtained at junior college. What about other schools. Do
you need SAT i/II test scores? Are there are requirements?
I know that Laney and Merritt have excellent Transfer
Centers, contact Manuel Alcala and Kimm Blackwell,
respectively. I'm not familiar with Vista's or COA's but
call to check.
Just wanted to let people know there are 11 community colleges in california
that have dorms! I'm very happy to have discovered this. See http://www.cccco.edu/find/dormitories.htm
I need advice about the junior colleges in the area. I
have guardianship of a bright and determined 18 year old
who is going to graduate from Napa High School in June.
Before she came to live with my husband and I about a year
and half ago she was getting a 0.00 grade point average.
After 1 semester of a little guidance and encouragement
her gpa raised to 3.32 and has hovered there since. She
did this all while commuting from Richmond to Napa and
working about 30 hours a week. That said I want to help
her find a junior college in the area where she can meet
other young adults her age and stay serious about school.
She will continue to live with us (in Richmond) while
going to a JC but would ultimately like to go to UCB. She
has an interest in becoming a nurse practitioner (she is
already a CNA) or maybe even a doctor. Any suggestions on
the schools in the area? I originally thought Vista would
be good since she would get to take some classes on the
UCB campus. We also thought about Diablo Valley so she
could meet other young adults. Then I spoke with an old
college professor of mine and he suggested Laney or
Merritt. There are just so many.. Thanks in advance for
I have attended WAY too many junior colleges in the Bay Area,
including Laney, Merritt, San Francisco City College, and DVC, and I
BY FAR had the best experience at DVC. I ended up staying there until
I transfered to a University. Their councilors are extremely helpful
when it comes to transfering and meeting academic goals, and nearly
every teacher I had there treated me with respect. That seems like it
should happen everywhere, but trust me, it doesn't. SF City College
was AWFUL in that department--high school all over again! If you have
any specific questions about my experience at DVC, feel free to
contact me. And congratulations to your
18-year-old! 0.00 to 3.32 is quite a feat!
For us, one factor is transportation. From Richmond, both
Laney and Vista are easily accesible by BART. We live there
and my kids go to Contra Costa College in San Pablo. They
take the bus. Also, I think it depends on the person's
interests. Vista has an interesting English dept. My son is
a musician so CCC works well for him. They have a good
music dept. and a student-run recording studio. Also a good
journalism program and culinary arts. If I were you I would
compare the catalogs which you can read online or get in
If your teen is interested in becoming a nurse practitioner
(NP), she will need to find the most time and cost
efficient method to get to a graduate nursing school. That
said, there are three main routes for her: 1) Junior
College Associate Degree nursing program + BA or BS
completion program, then apply to a graduate school like
UCSF for the 2 year Master's program providing NP
education/training; 2) BS in Nursing program at CSU
Hayward, San Francisco, San Jose; or private colleges like
Samuel Merritt College in Oakland or University of San
Francisco in SF - after graduation, she applies to a
graduate nursing program (there are several graduate NP
programs in the area); 3) She can earn a BA or BS in a non-
nursing major from CAL or any other 4 year institution (or
2 year college + bachelor's completion program) then apply
to an accelerated 3 year program to become a nurse and
obtain graduate education including the NP training.
Several schools in the area have the accelerated programs:
University of San Francisco; San Francisco State University
and UC San Francisco.
If you have additional questions re: becoming a nurse &/or
NP and wish to contact me at work, I am at UC San Francisco
Both Merritt College and College of Marin have good
nursing programs, but she will probably be better off
taking the prereq classes (in any of the community
colleges) for the SFSU BSN program and transfer there when
she is ready. The NP programs are master level and you
usually need a few years of nursing experience to be
accepted. Cal does NOT offer any nursing programs, but
will be a good place to get her pre-med if she is going to
go to med school.
this page was last updated: Aug 11, 2012
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