Going to Community College

Questions & Responses:
Archived Responses: 

Diablo Valley College vs. Berkeley City for transfer to Cal?

Nov 2013

My daughter, a freshman at UC Santa Barbara,would like to transfer Cal and understands that her chances will be much greater if she applies to transfer from a California community college. She's heard that Diablo Valley and Berkeley City are both strong feeders into Cal. My daughter is planning to major in political science. We'd appreciate any insight people have to offer in the key differences between DVC and BCC from the student standpoint, and re: maximizing one's chances of being accepted at Cal. My daughter is a strong student with good test scores and grades; she attended a small boarding school with only 1 AP class, and took and passed a couple other AP tests on her own, but didn't have the rigorous course load that other applicants to Cal did. Would appreciate any tips and advice those who have gone before can offer! Thanks. joyce

I would be very nervous about encouraging a student to leave one UC on the chance of eventually transferring to a more competitive UC. Please examine the motives, and the upsides and downsides, very carefully. This is a good time to ask serious questions and listen thoughtfully.

Why does your daughter wants to transfer from UCSB to Cal? Does she hate UCSB? (She can get a great education at UCSB, and there are people she could be good friends with there-- she just has to figure out how to be herself and find them. The heavy party scene there IS pretty overwhelming.)

Is there a better program in her field at Cal? (Or could she prepare at UCSB for a graduate program?) <p> Is this purely a money issue-- does she want or need to live at home? (This is frugal but makes it harder to make college friends. Does she have lots of hometown friends still around?)

Did she always dream about going to Cal and will do anything to realize that dream? (Okay-- and what is her backup plan in the worst case scenario if her transfer to Cal is rejected?)

Is there some other emotional thing going on besides first quarter discomfort with a new big school far from home? I hope this helps.

Diablo Valley College has a high rate of transfer to the UC system but Berkeley City College has a very low rate of transfer to the UC system.

The rate of transfer from every California community college to the UC system is available online in a list which shows which colleges have high transfer rates, but I cannot remember where online the list is located. You could try to find it by googling Berkeley City College transfer rate to UC system and see if you can access the list. Or google something similar. Anonymous

A community college faculty member in a letter to the editor in Saturday's (Nov 9) SF Chronicle stated that Diablo Valley Community College is the top transfer community college to UC Berkeley. Anonymous

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


Choosing between CSU campuses for freshmen daughter

April 2013


Hello, My daughter just got accepted to San Marcos State and San Jose State. She wants to persue a career in Nursing. Mostly because of the proximity, we are leaning towards SJSU. But she insist on visiting the San Marcos campus. I have read reviews that are not too flattering for San Marcos State. She wants to be in a rather larger campus full of opportunities for social activities and sports (just as an audience, she does not do any sports) The complication is that she was accepted as an Undeclared major at SJSU and as a pre-nursing student at San Marcos, so she may have better chances at getting the classes she needs at San Marcos. We are trying to save ourselves the expense and time wasting of going to southern california for a 20 minute visit to a campus that might not be the place for her and where the pre-nursing program might be just as good as the one at SJSU. Plus all the future expenses of getting her back home for the holidays etc. (we are in Berkeley) In my mind if there is nothing special about San Marcos, why bother going there. So my question is, does any of you know anything about San Marcos, in terms of academic, social/physical environment, student body, proximity to a larger town and quality of life as a student. Or can give some wisdom about the choice between these two campuses? Thank you so much Trying to help my daughter decide

If your daughter really wants to pursue nursing, I think you should be carefully investigating whether she can actually get into that program at SJSU. Nursing is hugely competitive. A young friend of mine had to leave SFSU in order to get into some sort of community college nursing program, because she couldn't get into SFSU's nursing program. She was working on a health-related BA as a backup and couldn't make the switch. The CSUs are so overloaded right now, the rules have become very tight, and you should make no assumptions that just because your daughter attends SJSU, she can get into ANY particular program she's not already accepted to. So, if nursing is what really matters, research that and decide from there. San Marcos might be the better choice.

I believe that an in-person visit to San Marcos (as well as SJSU, if you haven't already) is necessary. This is your daughter's future, not yours. She needs to decide which place will fit her needs and wants.

We took two summers touring colleges in California, Oregon, and Washington, and my son based his decision upon the in-person visits. He chose OSU and has taken ownership of his college career and has felt very vested in his university.

No matter how much on-line research you do, until you walk the campus, talk to students there, and talk to the folks in the campus tour program, you can't get a good feel for the culture at the university. Plan ahead and make sure you get a campus tour and talk to advising/admissions folks for each school before your daughter decides.

Travel costs for holidays should not even be a factor in your daughter's decision. This is the beginning of her adult life and career. Parent of a college senior


Community College Route to a UC

April 2013


Hi, Because I was a single parent for the first 15 years of my son's life, and then married and moved to the Bay area from Cincinnati, I did not have the wherewithal to put away college funds for him. Although a long shot, we had hoped he might get into UC Berkeley and be able to live at home, but he was not accepted. He did get accepted to Davis, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz, but we can't afford the tuition and room/board at those schools. He's going to go the community college/transfer route now, enabling him to live at home, save money, keep working at Safeway. My question is: how doable is this solution? Has it changed like so many other things in higher education in the last 20 years -- and what was once a good alternative is now very difficult or even impossible? I hear that it is still possible, for an individual who can remain focused and committed. Any other feedback? Thanks. L.

Are you sure you can't afford the UCs your son was accepted to? Davis in particular is a very affordable town; our cost of living here is low (rent and food). You don't need a car to get around. Did you do the FAFSA? Have you looked at what your schools are offering? Would your son be willing to take out loans/work his way through college? I just want to be sure you've explored all the options here, since you kind of skipped over that in your explanation.

As for going through community college to get to UC, yes, you can do it. Actually, my husband did Laney College to SFSU for his undergrad and now we are in Davis doing his PhD. But the community colleges are in terrible shape these days in terms of budget cuts. There is no guarantee that your son will get into a UC after he's done his GEs. And even if he does, that will only save two years of tuition. Is it worth it? I'm a big fan of working your way up when that's what you need to do (my husband definitely needed to). But do you really need to?

I have good news for you. A third of every graduating class at UC Berkeley was admitted as a transfer student. The master plan established this and it continues on as a means of providing more access to Californians to achieve a four year degree. If your son should decide to go that route, be sure that he takes courses that will make him eligible for the degree his is seeking at UC Berkeley. At the transfer level, students are admitted to the major (not just the college as they are as freshmen) so he will need to be sure he's completed the correct courses in order to be transfer eligible. He can go to the transfer admissions website to learn more. Do not despair, transfer admissions are a great affordable opportunity for students who were not admitted as freshmen. someone who knows UCB admissions

Yes! Very doable. Most important thing though is that in the student's FIRST semester they have to meet with a counselor at the community college and say they want to transfer to a UC and do a contract related to that. Then it is super easy to get in. My understanding is they are not committed to that UC and can apply to others but good to have that guarantee, which can only be done FIRST semester. best wishes


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


Living at Butte Community College

Feb 2012


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. Anon

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!


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


Cuesta Community College

Aug 2010


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 appreciated. anonymous

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. Jill

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 there.'' -aunt of former Cuesta student


ADD student at Berkeley City College

Dec 2007


I'm curious if anyone can tell me if Berkeley City College has any special help for students with ADD. My son will be taking Spanish and Math, classes he failed twice at Berkeley Independent Studies. His math teacher there told me that languages and math were particularly hard for students with ADD. His problem is less about comprehension than about the tedium of the work for him, but it is also about remembering what he has learned in those subjects. He's very bright and does well in English and History. He's trying to transfer to a 4 year college but has to pass these hurdles first. Anyone have experience with this? Still Hoping

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. Liz


Berkeley City College for 16 year old

Nov 2007


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. Liz

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! anon


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


Transferring from a Junior College

Oct 2005


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? Thanks.

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. anon


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