Going to Community College

Parent Q&A

Home schooled Teenager Ready for College Jan 23, 2018 (1 responses below)
Community college vs 4-yr college for low motivation senior? Dec 5, 2017 (4 responses below)
  • Home schooled Teenager Ready for College

    (1 reply)

    Hi everyone. My 15 year old daughter would like to enroll in Berkeley City College and would also like to pursue a high school diploma equivalency. I'm curious to know if any parents have insight into enrolling in city college and getting the GED or CHSPE for their homeschooled teen.

    Thanks,

    Kevin

    My 15 yr old just went this route. I’d be happy to walk you through the process but it is dependent on how exactly you’ve been homeschooling. Feel free to contact me directly via my BPN username.

  • My son, who is a high school senior, is bright but has never been very interested in school.  He has always basically done the minimum needed to get decent grades (A's and B's) but spends little time on homework, studying for tests, or working in advance on long-term projects.  He's also highly disorganized and refuses to use a calendar or plan his work ahead.  He shows absolutely no initiative when it comes to school, and not much even when it comes to the sports he ostensibly loves.  He worked with a college coach to identify potential fields of interest, prep for the ACT, and write two essays (didn't come up with much in terms of interests, did very well on the ACT, and the essays are OK but not great).  If it weren't for my substantial "help" I'm not sure he'd even be getting his applications in to colleges in time.

    From talking to friends and relatives, it seems that a lot of boys are in a similar place at this age, including my husband and several male cousins who eventually did well once they started to take school seriously.  I'm wondering if it might be better for him to go to a community college for two years, rather than head straight for a 4-yr. college or university.  I'd like him to experience the social aspects of starting out as a freshman away from home, but not if he's going to flounder so much that he ends up dropping out.

    I'd love to hear from parents who've been in a similar situation and find out what their kids did and how it worked out.  All advice greatly appreciated.

    Consider not sending your son to college right away but rather putting it off for a year and have him do a gap-year program, or even just work at a job for a year. My son is the same, also 18, also not interested in school, but he didn't even make the effort to get good grades. Instead of going straight to college, we put him in a gap-year program, he's learning so much, is maturing and growing, and getting clear on what's important to him. And he's spending his time with a group of young people who are going to college, which is great, he's learning that going to college is important. If a gap-year program isn't possible for your family - they can be expensive - just working for a year is enormously educational. He'll learn the value of work, of earning an income, and of what he's capable of. He may also learn the importance of being organized, and of applying himself when the approval of someone other than his parents is at stake. I say think outside the box. 

    I wonder if your son would be interested in a trade education. Cal Maritime Academy is a Cal State University and its engineer careers put the kids under some academic training but mostly it is hands-on. It is a small campus and they have strict rules of conduct because they prepare the kids for jobs that entail safety and security of systems, ships, and logistics. And their graduates get very well paid jobs soon after graduation. Take a tour and find out more about it. It's a great school and it's nearby.

    My son was exactly like yours, not overtly smart but definitely with the brains if he applied himself. But he was scattered and uninterested in anything academic. He was a B-C kind of kid and boasted that he rarely studied during high school and definitely did not spend real time for homework or projects in his high school years. Fortunately for him he chose and got accepted to Cal Maritime. He had some hiccups with his academics but he did graduate last year, is now well employed and loves his job.

    For my son community college would have been a black hole because he was not focused and was not ready to navigate what is basically an independent study. In my opinion to succeed in a community college you have to know what you want, stay focused and find friends who have similar goals as yours. Knowing my son we believed he would have associated with kids that were not academically inclined. Cal Maritime provided a focused environment, only 5 careers to choose from, not the sea of options and set courses that were determined buy your choice of career path. For my son that worked great.

    I agree with you that freshmen year is important. Lifelong friendships are formed then, and the students get a sense of living 'independently' away from home. Both my kids loved those first years as they started the process of separation. Whichever choice you/him make, my suggestion is make sure he has all the required courses to apply to a 4 year college, and apply. You can always decide last minute to go the community college route. Also, if he ends up going to a 4 year college, monitor his academics closely. Get him to authorize you to access all his records immediately after starting school. Will be glad to discuss more personally if you are interested. Much luck.

    Absolutely "encourage passively",  to attend a Jr. College rather than a 4 year.   My fearful, not particularly mature, procrastinator of a son was accepted after high school into Cal State Long Beach where he basically skipped most of his classes, made no real friends, didn't care about the "college experience"/hated dorm living, etc.  After that debacle and me still paying for an education he didn't truly want, we encouraged him to go to the the local community college and as time went on, he became more interested in heading off (transfer student) to a UC.  MUCH BETTER! 

     I just don't believe that most boys are mature enough at 18/19 to leave home or even know where to begin in life.  All is working out very well now.  He has a roommate (his best friend from high school--had to be "safe"/familiar for him), is still a homebody, but pretty much knows what he wants to do on the career/school front and is more mature now.   My suggestion is to not put too much pressure on him on anything! It only makes them defensive and in turn they fight back on parental "pressures".   I strongly believe that most boys come around and figure out things in their own way, on their own time, eventually.  Good luck!

  • My son just turned 21 and has not made much progress with college. In preschool, he was diagnosed with borderline auditory processing disorder and received some language therapy, but he did fine in K-10, so we did not seek any further help. But he stopped doing schoolwork in 11th grade and ended up doing poorly. So he initially decided to go to a community college, away from home, to study outdoor education leadership, which seemed like a great plan. He did gain some great skills, but during his one year there he did not complete the academic classes required to be on track for a 2 year degree or transfer. After a semester off, working and traveling, he came home and is going to SF City College, but has been struggling. He is unable to keep up with a full time courseload, falls behind in one class or another and has to drop it. We encouraged him to quit his job this semester, but he had still not kept track of what he needs to do in each class, dropped a class and may be falling behind in another. He also says he is a slow learner, which is puzzling. He is smart, independent, extremely outgoing, social justice minded. Everyone he meets, of any age, likes him and remembers him -- and often, wants to offer him a job ( just not one that pays well enough to afford to live on his own in the bay area). He is fantastic with kids and would like to be a teacher, but I am wondering how he is going to get through college at this rate. Should he have testing to see if he has a learning disability? Can he get this at Kaiser? What help is available for community college students if he is diagnosed with a processing disorder or executive functioning disorder? Or without such a diagnosis? Should we just figure he will mature and get through college at his own pace? I feel very conflicted about continuing to support him financially at 21 if he is not in school full time really focusing on getting thru school. 

    I have a kid like this. He did eventually make it through 2 years of community college and then he transferred to a UC and (eventually) graduated!  So don't give up! My son took only one class per semester until he felt confident enough to go up to 2 classes, and then 3 or 4 classes at a time. Before that he had repeatedly dropped out midway through the semester.  We supported him while he took minimal classes trying to get his bearings. He was older than 21.  It took a few years but he did make it through. Be aware that there are counselors at the community colleges, and your son should talk to them. It does take patience and persistence. It might be a hassle to make an appointment and he might have to wait for a while. Ask your Kaiser primary care doc for a referral. If you have the funds to pay for a neuropsych evaluation for him it would probably be worth it. 

    I'm a community college professor and happy to talk with you if you contact me directly. 

    He should get assessed and they may be able to do some of it right on campus. If he has a documented disability then there should a center on campus to help with accommodations (e.g tape recording lectures, note takers, longer time for exams, etc.,) depending on his diagnosis. Also, only about 10% of students finish community college in 2 years. So, his path is fairly typical. Does SF City College use Canvas for the course management system? Do his instructors input all the due dates into the calendar feature? They should have a syllabus that has the due dates of the exams and major assignments.  It sounds like entering those things in some calendar system right at the start of the semester would be helpful. The counseling department at SF City college has some student success classes where they will teach study skills, etc. (https://www.ccsf.edu/en/student-services/student-counseling/WelcomePage_...). 

    It sounds like he might like a school like Prescott College. It is a liberal arts school in Arizona. You can get a degree in Adventure Education and teaching credentials. They typical resident student sounds a lot like your son. 

    I would recommend having him tested.  Both at community college, and at UC (based on our experience), he will have support available to him, which can include taking a slightly lighter course load.  Many kids are taking 5 years now for a Bachelor's, with and without the support needed based on learning issues.  Best of luck to him

Parent Reviews

I completely understand your child's situation and they are definitely not alone! I know of several high school students who decided that high school was not for them. The good news is that we have several local community colleges that offer excellent opportunities for high school leavers. I believe Laney College has a program specifically for this group of students, but I don't know about other campuses. Additional good news is that in Ca, community college is free for high school students, the classes will be good for both high school and college credits, and the classes are taught at an accelerated pace. For example, one semester of a foreign language is worth two years of high school foreign language (my daughter did this)! Most other semester courses are worth a year of the same high school subject. Check out the Peralta Colleges, with campuses in Berkeley, Oakland and Alameda. There is also Diablo Valley College. Classes can be taken in the evenings, on weekends, during the regular day and online. This is the best kept secret from high school students, and I just wish school counselors let their students know about this as a  possible alternative for students who would benefit from it.

High school students can take college classes for college credit during the summer at either the community colleges or at Cal. Why mess around with a "program" when you can take real Chem 1A?

http://web.peralta.edu/admissions/files/2011/07/High-School-Special-Enro...

http://summer.berkeley.edu/student-types/high-school-students

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Questions  

How to find the right Community College?

Oct 2014

For a system that educates more people than any other educational system in the country, I find myself totally panicked over trying to figure out the Community College system for my high school senior son. Are there any consultants out there who are pros at this and can help me understand the system and find the best program for him to pursue? My goal is to find him an AA for transfer program preferrably in the Bay Area with a major in his particular field of interest, so if he manages to actually get the AA he can truly become a junior at a CSU in his field. Or if he falls short, and just does work in the major, can still do something with that coursework accomplished. He also will need as many accommodations as possible for his academic coursework, so guidance there is helpful as well.
Drowning Mama


I don't know of any private community college advisors, but my daughter just got out of Diablo Valley College and successfully transferred to Cal State East Bay. It took her 3 years to get the equivalent of an AA degree because she only took courses part time & then changed her major. So my advice is to have your child do career assessments online and see what he is interested in and where his strengths are. That will help him focus on a major. The transfer process is fairly straightforward. Be sure to have him see the on-campus community college advisors regularly to plan his classes and ask specific questions. DC


Don't worry, Drowning Mama! The community college system isn't as scary as it seems, and it can be a great option for all kinds of students. Your son doesn't need to earn an AA to be eligible to transfer, but he did need to plan wisely so that he takes the right set of course to either graduate with an AA, transfer to a CSU or UC campus, or start a career with marketable skills.


Rebecca Field just presented at Miramonte High School last week. She specializes in college advising for teens with learning disabilities and seemed very competent and passionate about what she does. She also works in college advising at Bayhill High School, where all students are required to apply to community colleges.


Community Colleges with Dormitories

Aug 2013

My high school junior is a likely Community College candidate. I would, however, like him to have as much of a college living experience as possible. I am trying to identify Community Colleges in California that have student dormitories. For example, Santa Barbara City College has student dormitories that provide a wonderful living experience, including providing students an opportunity to mingle with UCSB students. Unfortunately this school does not have programs that I think are the best fit for my son. So please let me know if you are aware of any other California Community Colleges with student dormitories. I would like ones of substance. For example, Reedley College in Reedley also seems to have a dormitory, but it is relatively small and somewhat isolated, so not as ideal sounding as say the Santa Barbara option. Thanks! Mom of future Community College Student


This information is on the website www.cccco.edu. There is a College Housing section listed as one of the options after you click on Community Colleges. Anonymous


Just wanted to correct something in your post. You wrote, ''Santa Barbara City College has student dormitories that provide a wonderful living experience, including providing students an opportunity to mingle with UCSB students.'' Unfortunately, like most community colleges in the state, SBCC does not have dorms for students. There are apartments in Isla Vista with SBCC and UCSB students living in them. They're privately owned. SBCC doesn't supervise students and is not responsible for the residents. I would send only a very mature teenager to live in Isla Vista. It's at least 10 miles from SBCC so that in itself is an impediment to getting to classes. And Isla Vista is truly a partying place. I'm all for kids having fun but IV is over the top. There are some privately owned places in Santa Barbara proper - probably a better choice and way closer to SBCC. The California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office website lists the handful of community colleges in California that have their own housing for students here: http://www.cccco.edu/CommunityColleges/CollegeHousing.aspx Hope you find the right school for your teenager - and housing! Dana


Our son just completed his first year at Butte Community College in Oroville. He lived in a privately run dorm in Chico called Craig Hall, and he was fine with the place and the food. Bus shuttles run between the dorm and the school and are provided for free. Good luck. Anon


Basic Skills Assessment prior to College

April 2012

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. Anon


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. Good Luck


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 re-taking it. There is some good info on the tests here: http://www.berkeleycitycollege.edu/wp/student_service_programs/assessment-orientation/ Hope that helps a mom


Community college for isolated senior?

Feb 2012

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. worried mom


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. Anonymous


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. Anon


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. Anonymous


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. anon


Attending community college vs. state university

Sept 2011

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? Anon


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 mayor. Community College is a great decision. Good luck Victoria


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


Deciding between Santa Barbara CC and Cabrillo

April 2007

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? Mom


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. anon


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. Cabrillo feedback


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. Sally


Community Colleges with Dorms!

Nov 2004

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 Joann


Looking for a good JC for a bright student

May 2004

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 your help! Sarah


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! Mercedes


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 hard copy. Good luck! Amalia


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 415-476-4801. Judy


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. anon