Golden West Outreach Coordinator Don Bui was recently a featured panelist at Marina High School’s Senior College Info Night. The Q&A session addressed frequent questions and concerns by 12th graders and their parents. The following are his responses.
Where do you access the application?
Online at www.goldenwestcollege.edu. Summer & Fall 2017 applications begin November 21, 2017, and there is no due date. Students can actually apply first week of the semester and still might be able to get classes. But as with a lot of things in life, just because you can, doesn’t mean that you should! Apply as soon as you can so that you can have your spot secured.
I think that all seniors should apply. It’s free; it’s simple. Every year there are seniors who, because “life happens,” find themselves without an option in late spring. I’ve met students who are set to graduate and ready for their college, and then something happens with one of their last needed classes, or their financial aid has a problem and they can’t afford college after all. This is the reality every year, and your one simple insurance policy is to spend 20 minutes to apply for Golden West.
And if you want to attend GWC, we can grant you priority registration, but don’t wait to apply!
What key factors do you look for in an application? (Grades, test scores, service hours, index, etc.)
Community college was created to be an open access system for local students. There’s nothing that we look for in the application that will disqualify you from admission to Golden West. So in a nutshell, with community college it’s never about how you get in, it’s about what you do once you are in.
The goal of the CC is to help you move on, whether you’re transferring to a university, or you’re getting a college degree that takes only two years of school, or you’re finishing a career certificate program (like, dental hygiene, automotive technology, digital media arts). So it’s important that you indicate on your application, if you already know it, what your program of study is. Other than that, we also really emphasize what services that you’re interested in.
If you’re a first-generation college student or you need financial assistance, check EOPS. If you’re going to be an athlete, check Athletics because you’ll have your own Counseling. Let us know you’ll want to be in clubs and maybe are interested in Student Life and Leadership. There’s a lot to offer at community college so that you can make it home, instead of just a place you go to for school and then leave when class ends.
When and how do students send in test scores?
The test scores that we need are the EAP and AP, and you should submit them either as soon as you’ve received your CCCD ID#, or when you take the placement exam in spring. ACT and SAT are not accepted.
GWC also takes ERWC: seniors who have completed both semesters of this course with at least a C will earn automatic placement into English 100. If you have that completed, bring the transcript to us whenever it’s ready.
What are the AP policies for your campus?
Our course catalog online has the complete chart of every single AP test score we’ll accept. In general for community colleges, AP credits vary by campus and by course, but in general, a score of 3 will get you out of the first core class of that discipline, and a 4 or 5 will get you that class and the next one up.
Students who already have AP results from previous years, and have a college ID# should bring the AP results to the Enrollment Center for processing.
Should students select a major or go undeclared?
This is a very loaded question and my answer is based on my experience advising students, and it doesn’t necessarily represent Golden West’s view as a whole.
I think that you should not commit to a major unless you’re quite sure that’s what you want to do, or that’s what you genuinely enjoy. What might happen if a student declares a major too early is that they take classes towards that major and then realize, “hm, I don’t like this.” A lot of people say they want to be nurses or engineers, but they get to o-chem or advanced physics and say “nuh uh, not for me.” And the concern is that by then, it will be a pain to start over. So, I’d say there is value in taking your time and exploring, and going in undeclared if that’s best for you.
I think that community college is the perfect place for someone who’s not quite ready to commit to a major. Exploring your options can be expensive, so, do that at CC where it’s $46 a unit, and about $1,104 per year for tuition.
Also, if you are going in undeclared, take advantage of our free resources like the Career Center, where we can help you find a career that fits you, and then you can choose a major towards it. We have these services every week, so use them!
What recommendations do you have for students in their senior year?
Many students enter community college and start at Math and English classes that are one or two whole levels below college level, sometimes three or four. And the reality is, if you’re starting at two levels below freshman-level math, your chances of finishing that math sequence is about 7%. It is abysmal and it is very serious. So community colleges do not take this lightly and we will have different programs to help you start and finish strong.
If you’re taking math, take it seriously. If you’re not taking math, plan to enroll in a summer bridge program like our Jumpstart. For example, last summer, over 90% of Jumpstart students who started in two levels below college level math jumped up at least one level, and many went two/three levels above. We are really committed to making sure you graduate and transfer on time, so please take advantage.
I also encourage all of you to be involved with activities outside of school, regardless of where you attend. Just because we don’t utilize your service hours as a condition for admission, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. Practice those people skills and street smarts, you’ll need them to navigate college. You’re about to do adult things, and it requires a lot of skills that are not academic.
Lastly, know that there’s something for everyone at CC. Many students don’t know what’s available, like for example, part of your tuition is $19 for a health fee, and it allows you to get free basic medical care, time with a psychology professional, and food if you are in dire need. These are three of hundreds of services that you can get that’s included in your tuition, so use them! The students who take orientation and counseling seriously never miss these services, because that’s when we tell you about them. So my point is to be attentive, and if you don’t know, just ask.
When do you require students to submit a transcript?
At CC, it’s very rare that we’ll need your high school transcript. You would need it when you’re trying to petition into a class, for example, you want to take Calculus in college but you tested only into Statistics. Other than that, the only time you’d really need to show us your transcript is if you took a college course at another college, and want credit for it, or, you took ERWC and passed.
What do you recommend for students who want to transfer?
When you come to a CC with an intention to transfer, know that we’re all about helping you transfer. Community colleges were created to be that pipeline, to be that bridge between your high school and university, so naturally, we have so much in place to help you transfer. For example, at GWC, we have monthly transfer workshops covering the UC/CSU applications, to meeting an admissions rep, to writing the personal statements. We also have field trips and transfer college fairs, offered at different times to meet different schedules. So, my recommendation is to check in with the college’s Counseling Division. At GWC, we have a dedicated Transfer Center within Counseling. Make sure you don’t miss out.
My other recommendation is for you to do some research on your own. Anyone can go to www.assist.org and see exactly what classes you need to take to transfer to the major you want, at the university you want.
Lastly, so much of what’s available to you two years from now depends on how you start right now. The first step is to take the assessment seriously. It will affect your first semester classes, which affects your year, which affects whether you can transfer on time. There’s a sequence to it, and it’s actually quite simple.
Do you have additional scholarships for students beyond the FAFSA and Cal Grant? How do students apply?
Yes, we do have additional scholarships specifically for GWC, and other CCs will as well. Last year at Golden West, over 490 scholarships were granted to students totaling over half a million dollars. To apply, find the scholarships section on the college website, or go to the Scholarships office.
Almost all of them require some kind of essay and letter of recommendation, so it’s very important that you’re able to write clearly and meaningfully about the topic. And the topic is dependent on the scholarship. You might get one that’s related to community service, or passion for an art genre, or how you’ll use your education to improve society. Whatever it is, we look for genuine personality and character.
What advice can you give to applicants?
My final bit of advice is to be proud that you’re going to community college. You may not realize this yet, but at GWC, we’ve had students who went on to become doctors, to win Emmys for film production, and to be an Olympic medalist. I remember never considering community college once in high school, and even in the recent years, there still is this idea that community college is where you go if you have no other option. I disagree with that. I think that community college is a smart option. And if there’s any student here who is concerned that come April, when your friends are naming what colleges they’re going to, and you’re a little timid because you’re going to community college, my advice to you is, well, you can change that perception. It starts with you.
What is the difference between someone saying “yeah I’m just going to community college” and someone saying “I chose this community college because I’m going to save money, prepare for a university, and transfer in two years.” If you’re going to change how others view you, you have to start changing how you view yourself.
So, if you’re coming to GWC, take some pride in your decision, and we are thrilled to have you.
Let’s get you to your future.