Believe it or not, going down the street to the local community college instead of traipsing across country or an hour away to the big four-year university is just as much of an adjustment for your high school graduate as the big leagues. Having taught in the trenches of community college for a decade, here is my advice to your college bound freshman.

1. It's NOT High School

Nothing will grate on the nerves of your community college professors more than a freshman who thinks he or she is still in high school. You are in college. If you don't want to be there, plenty of others want your seat. Don't whisper to your neighbor, text message in class, and ask questions that were already answered by the instructor. You are certainly not going to gain any respect for it.

Dig it: what was cool to do in high school is not cool to do in college. Pay attention, take notes, ask probing and interesting questions. Your teacher might have 65 students. Make yourself memorable in a positive light. Don't call your professors by their first names unless they said it was okay for you to do so.

2. Buy and Read the Textbooks

Really, do it. Having Cs and Ds on your record is bad enough as it is. Having them on your community college transcripts really looks bad. You cannot afford to look bad for your future four-year institution. The reading material was chosen for a reason. Read it. If the school bookstore is too expensive, there's Amazon, there's eFollett, eBay, and any number of options. Your professor might even have the book on reserve in the library. Or the whole text might exist somewhere online. Have some initiative.

3. Stay in Contact

Even if your professor has a tough-as-nails approach to attendance and participation, odds are you can get away with more if you stay in contact. Are you absent for a couple of days? If possible, email him/her beforehand to let them know of your absence. The student that cared enough to contact in a reasonable time frame isn't the one who is going to get dropped. If your class has a blog or website, use it. Leave comments. Teachers like seeing that the resources they bothered to set up for you are being used.

4. Use the Resources Available to You

More than likely your campus has a library and learning center or writing center. Use these places. You've paid for them in student fees. Most likely there are people who would be happy to give you a tour of the facilities. One of the biggest problems on campuses are students not taking advantage of the opportunities available to them. Some campuses have free bus passes available as well. Ask questions. Find out! Even the businesses around the college may be running deals.

5. Form a Study Group

If you are having a hard time understanding a concept, odds are someone else in class is too. At the big schools, you see people forming study groups all the time. Just because you're on a commuter campus and there aren't any dorms doesn't mean you don't need one. Form one.

6. Get Involved in Your Campus

Even if you didn't have the greatest grades in high school and you didn't participate much in extracurriculars, here's your second chance. There are campus clubs, honor roll, sports, student government. Interest in such things here isn't very high, but that also means this is your chance to shine. You may have gotten lost in the shuffle at the four-year university or weren't in the right clique in high school. No matter. You can really learn to shine here. Community colleges need more active students!

7. Cutbacks

Odds are very good that the college you are going to is experiencing some pretty hefty cutbacks. This is not because the school 'sucks' — this is a problem throughout the country and, frankly, it doesn't matter what public college you're attending.

So, what can you do about it? Vote. Voice your opinion. Don't let politicians balance budgets on the backs of students while giving tax breaks to polluters. But if you know your college is having cutbacks, make sure you give yourself time to get things done. Case in point: Our community college has a record number of students, but at the same time, it has a skeletal crew in admissions.

8. It's All About the Approach

If you approach community college as a way to get job training then you are missing the boat. Just like with a four-year institution, a good college experience is one that widens your understanding of the world as well as your financial options when you graduate. This is where you are starting from; make the most of it! It's a great opportunity to try to be a big fish in a small pond. You can get involved with junior college sports programs or student government pretty easily. Community college is there for the community and often give willing students a second chance at the big time. Use that chance.

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This post was included in the Carnival of Homeschooling and A Homeschooling Carnival.