Adopting the College Mindset

Marvelina Barcelo is the co-director of the Transfer Center and a member of the iFALCON grant team.

My college experience at UC Santa Barbara is one I will treasure forever. Linking up to student activities and student support resources prepared me for college, but there are definitely a few things I would have done differently. Check out how I iFALCONed in college!

My Best Practices:

Attending orientation-learned how to register for classes via the telephone, read the schedule of classes and meet other students in my major.

Exploring the EOP office my first semester-became familiar with student organizations through bulletin boards and the counseling services available to me

Linking up to a student organization-started off as a member and eventually held the position of President my junior and senior year.

Linking up to the Career Center-learned how to create a resume and obtain internships.

Linking up to Tutoring Services-learned to write papers for some of my general education classes.

Keeping up with Educational Goal-stayed up-to-date with general education and major requirements to satisfy graduation requirements

Networking with 2nd, 3rd & 4th year students-learned the college system quicker.

My Not-So Best Practices:

Attending a 3-day orientation-cancelled a one-week orientation to attend a three-day orientation; I could have met a lot more students outside of my major before the quarter started.

Selecting classes based on a student’s opinion of “easier grading”– Enrolled in a class that was graded as 50% midterm and 50% final.  Much more difficult! The history class was The Nile River. Not my cup of tea!

Selecting classes based on what friends were adding -continued to take Chicano Studies classes when I should have kept taking more Sociology courses; after all, that was my major.

Arranging class schedule over 2 days out of the week-jammed all my classes in two days to give me 2 full days for my internship; instead I was more exhausted and left homework to the very end. Not such a bad idea to spread out the classes.

Selecting a night class that meets once a week-learned that my energy was in the morning. I dreaded attending my night class, never again!

Picking random professors to write letters of recommendation-waited until the last minute to find a professor to write a letter of recommendation for graduate school.

Regardless of whether you have a college role model in your life to help you navigate the college system, it is important to adopt, carry and apply the skill of networking. Most of my best practices have to do with allowing myself to learn new things by virtue of networking. I did not have someone to walk me through the college system, but my networking skills made it easier to navigate the college and succeed. Looking back at my not-so best practices in college, I would have to say that my researching skills needed improvement. I lacked the initiative to investigate things on my own that were in my best interest in the long term.  I could have looked up course descriptions in the General Catalog to find general education classes more suitable to my interest, had discussions with a counselor or peer mentor on how to plan classes that matched my energy level versus what looked better on paper and looked into how to prepare for graduate school.

So how do you keep up with your iFALCONing? 


Career Services – assistance with choosing a major and making career decisions

Student Activities – student clubs

Academic Support Center (ASC) – Tutoring and study skills workshops

General Catalog – course descriptions and program requirements

Online Orientation – orientation to the college

Programs/Majors – program/major requirements

Back to the iFALCON home page.

This entry was posted in California State University, Higher Education, iFALCON, Student Success, Transfer, University of California. Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to Adopting the College Mindset

  1. Ciennese says:

    This post makes me really think about how smart I should be in picking my classes specially with the scheduling. Also, when taking classes I must say its better of to do what I want to do and not base it on what my friends are taking because it might not help me in the long run.

    • Marvelina says:

      Hi Ciennese,

      It took me 2 years to figure it out for myself. At that point, I owned my educational goal by taking classes appropriate to my career goal. Cerritos College has so many courses that many are well kept secrets….Thanks your your reply!

  2. Patty says:

    I can relate to most of the stuff you talked about in this article. I feel very overwhelmed by so many classes and all the work I have! I have no time, and I need to slow down with job and school because in the long way it will be very destructive for my career.

    • Marvelina Barcelo says:

      Hi Patty,

      Thanks for the comments! With nation wide budget cuts it is more important now to keep focused on your educational objective(s). Do you have a clear educational objective (i.e., AA, transfer, major, career goal)? There is not enough space (classroom space) to be second guessing the classes you have to take because of little initiative or motivation. More students are coming to the community college and less seats are available. Take a reasonable unit load every semester and nail the course with the best grade possible! In the end, your transfer options will be dictated by your overall academic performance.

  3. Adrianna Lopez says:

    Now that i see what mistakes i made in my first year of college im going to be a bit more prepared. I should have taken not so early classes, knowing that im not a early bird person to start off with. I need to be more prepared with the classes that im going to get. Reading this message gave me some good pointers to take a look at and really consider.

  4. Tuki Sauvao says:

    This article has caught my attention as I started reading about how you were very involved with the school activities. Now, i know that i should make wise choices when picking my classes and not follow what my friends tell me. Choosing easy classes won’t be that easy because teachers tend to grade hard based on tests and homework assignments that’s worth more than participation. As a freshman in college this message has given me good advice.

  5. Leslie Nguyen says:

    I found this post very informative about how to keep track to reach my goal in college. It helps me focus more on my study plan.

  6. Andrew Buenrostro says:

    I really enjoyed this because it made me stop and realize how important it is to have a positive and negative outlook on things so that you can be successful. I will try my hardest this year by taking the advice you have provided me in this article, i really appreciate it, thank you!

  7. Marcus Vargas says:

    I realize now that it is up to me to take control of my college success. I will utilize all the resources that my school has to offer. And i will try not to take classes just because of “easier grading”, but for the knowledge that they will bestow upon me.

  8. Gabbie Carbajal says:

    i can relate to this as well, iI have been here for three semesters n its been very hard to obtain classes. This is the first time I take English. I did however find out about the program EOPS. It allows you to get advanced enrollment date. They do have requirements though. So hopefully if i get a chance to be in the program then I should have a good sechedule next semester. I also agree school and work is hard especially with class being early. But, since there were no open class i believe that is why many of us chose this course. But, with effort, patience and a positive thought we should make it…. 😀 Good luck to all of us…

  9. ji kim says:

    I really like this short article because it’s helpful and relatable to me.
    Reading this has made me realize that I often make the same mistakes that you made but,
    now I know a little better.

  10. Justine Natham says:

    This was very interesting to me because I now know what I probably shouldn’t do and what I should do. As of now I know my major but I really need to talk to other students so I know more about it. I should probably attend an orientation. I’m usually not someone who would join a club or something but I think I’ll look into them since it has help you so much. Thanks for posting this, it is a big help.

  11. Cheyanne says:

    I really enjoyed reading this because it taught me alot about how college life is going to be. There are so many diffrent ways that we have to learn and adopt for college. It will help me as a student to get to know more people and figure out what I want to major in. I really enjoyed this article and how it explains the steps of what to do for college. I should follow those steps because I want to better myself to be like you and move on to a university.

  12. jerb0x says:

    This made me realize that I could really get some help to be successful in college. I need to learn to make use of the resources around the campus, practice linking up to other students and be more effective with selecting courses to take.

  13. Cynthia says:

    I think this blog is really helpful. I had no help my first year in college. I did everything on my own. I hope new students can read this blog and find it helpful. I will still follow all these steps to improve in my academics.

  14. Jeffrey Diaz says:

    Reading this article made me realize what steps I should have taken on my first year of college. It made me realize that if you ask for help on how to get started I would have been more advance on my major instead of taken random classes. I find these articles really helpful and hopefully new students do to.

  15. Hector Z. says:

    This is my first years as a college student and barely learning what college is all about, so far i have seen it is completely the opposite of high school. This small article is very helpful to begin with, i was completely lost at the start as a college student. Reading this article made me realize that you need to keep up with your educational goals. I believe they should introduce this article to high school students so they know what to expect when they step into college. I find this article very helpful seeing that “chilling” as they call it does not exist in the language of college. this made me realize i need to be focused in learning and follow these basic steps of education to be successful not only in college but in life.

  16. Briana Cano says:

    This article made things sound a lot easier to handle. With a positive mind and thoughts it wont be as hard to do well in school. Its nice to know I’m not alone in this journey and there are always people to help me along the way.

  17. Raymond Herrera says:

    This article helped me out. I realize I have to pick classes that will help me out with my major. I need to start asking people about my major. I also need to talk to a counselor about what classes i should take. This article was very helpful.

  18. Bobby Guzman says:

    After reading this, it gave me more ways to be successfull in college. It gave me more of an insight in how to pick my classes. Instead of making my schedule all day on mondays and wednesdays i will spread it out more and maybe even get more classes. I will definately try getting morre involved with the school as well.

  19. ariana mejia says:

    After reading this article it is so true i feel so overwelmed with my classes there is always something due. It gave me some tips what to do and what not to do to be an sucessful student. Reading this article gave me a few ideas and pointers what to do.

  20. Melissa Miranda says:

    Reading this article opens up my mind of how I should look at things & realize the possible ways of getting better in school. Im very cautions of what classes to pick for my major and not to get mistaken with other courses. Being my 1st year in college I’ve gotten great help from everyone taking these steps can increase my level of fulfillment and realize that this is not high school no more this is our life and our future. Having read this article shows the cons and pros of college and this shows that this is the first step of being successfull, and I know for a fact that I am in the right path and feel good about myself.=)

  21. Emigdio says:

    Since I came to this country, everything changed in my life, social life, language, college, everything. I just finished ESL classes here in Cerritos college now I am taking English classes and it is really hard for me without say my others jobs. But my point is that reading this article I realized that every student has a hard moment in college, in spite of being English speakers. Also, I see that with Linking up I may increase my English and not only that but also enhance my student life.

  22. Ismael says:

    I think that reading this article was really helpful because i realized some of the mistakes i did. I know now that i should spread my classes through the week and take classes that i need and not the classes that my friend took or are taking. Hopefully this article will help some one else as much as it helped me.

  23. simona says:

    This article is so helpful for new students that need help to know what to do, who to ask, or how to start. I was one of those students who needed help. This article made me think how important it is to pick the right classes and manage my time specially that i have a full time job and full time units at school. I don’t like wasting my time and i think this article will help me keep up with my educational goal and choose the right classes that i need for my major and don’t waste my time.

  24. petrina says:

    After reading this article I relized how long its been since I been out if school and how much harder I need to work.

  25. Sandra Gutierrez says:

    I could relate to some of the things that are being said here, this is my first year in college and i’m feeling overwhelmed. Recently, past month i have done some research on how to succed in college, i’ve read about, i’ve planned but nothing like feeling it. Meaning, experiencing will im guessing there has to be a rountine to every day college planning and having the mind set. Having some time for oneself, i have procrastinated in this week. Do you have any suggestions on how to keep motivated?

    • Marvelina Barcelo says:

      Hello Sandra,

      Your question seems so simple yet so complex. But, I do have a few things to share. Ask yourself these questions when your school spirits are coming down:
      1) Why am I here?
      2) Am I getting closer to my goal?
      3) What are my distractions and what can I do to minimize those distractions?

      I always reminded myself of why I was at UC Santa Barbara, I wanted a better life for myself and for my family. My 1st year I was earning a B- average gpa which was poor academic performance, if you ask me. I held high standards. By my 2nd year, I new I needed to make changes and that was less time with my college boyfriend and more time with friends in my major and participate in study groups. Boyfriends can come and go but you can’t spend your entire life at the university. Keeping motivated is not a prescription nor a one-size fits all….But hopefully these few words help…

  26. Jessica Mora says:

    Dear Marveline,
    I feel as if a I can some how relate to your article. This will now be my second year in college and I feel as if I was more prepared this year then the last. My first year expirience I never went to go see a counselor on what classes I need to be taking. I was going to school full time and working full time. I never went to go visit any of my instructors during their office hours, I had signed up for clubs but never attended them and so on. Although I didnt take the help that was there for me I belive that i did not do that bad during the fall I got all B’s in my classes and in the spring all A’s. I took only classes that I knew where for my general I did not go by if they where easier or because my friends were in them. Anyways, this year I am going to take advantage of all the help that the school offers to make things easier for me and kee striving.

  27. Huy says:

    Dear Marveline,
    After reading your post I see how finding a counselor is a good ideal and that making sure that if i plan an education goal i should stick too it. Also that I should pick class that will help me with my major than just finding random class that seems fun. Thank you for the post and your insight of your colege life.

  28. Casey Chairez says:

    This article has made me realize how much time can be lost just by simply thinking college is like high school.

  29. Angel Rocha says:

    I can relate a couple situations to this article because I too do not have a role model in my family that is attending college, and sometimes I wish I did because maybe it would give me more motivation. But, this article taught me to act smart about picking classes and take classes that are going to benefit me in the long run and that as long as you have your mind set to whatever it is you want to accomplish, anything is possible.

  30. Courtney Canlas says:

    Hi Marveline,

    Your post seems really inspiring. I’m surprise you have that mindset to get everything done before its’ deadline. I feel encourage to follow your steps but lately I’ve been stress. I enrolled in Cerritos College to become a Physical Therapy Assistant but it happened that I enrolled later in the summer and got only a few classes. I’m satisfied of the classes I’m taking but I’m scared it will take me longer to finish. I do believe your words of wisdom “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail” I can guarantee if I don’t push myself for the effort that’s needed, I won’t get very far.
    Your blog really gave me a wake-up call because education now is not like high school, not like elementary… I’M PAYING FOR MY EDUCATION and it’s my responsibility to make the money worth. I do hope next semester I will take the average amount of classes to reach my career goal.

    • Marvelina says:

      Hello Courtney,
      Thank you for your comments! I hear you mention two key things: ENCOURAGED AND STRESSED. Keeping motivated doesn’t imply bringing upon more stress to your life than you can handle. When you feel stressed, is it stress due to a school assignment, work or home? If it is due to a school assignment or your unit load, you want to make sure you seek out assistance with your professors, classmates, and/or the Success Center (also known as the Academic Support Center). If your stress is related to home or work, then you must ask yourself whether you can commit to making changes to reduce the stress or whether you need professional help. All student currently enrolled have access to our Student Health & Wellness Center services ( Good luck!

  31. You really make it seem really easy with your presentation however I find this matter to be really one thing that I believe I would never understand. It seems too complex and extremely vast for me. I’m having a look forward to your subsequent publish, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

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