Session 6: College Life


College campuses can provide a great opportunity for growth in many areas. Every college campus has much more to offer than the classes you might take there. Some of the resources and opportunities offered can be experience-shaping and life changing. In order to reach your full academic, professional, social and personal potential you must tap in and utilize what your campus has to offer.

When I first started at Pierce College I didn’t really have any expectations, I had no idea what I was getting myself into I just knew I had to do something. I had to juggle several responsibilities including my kids, probation and work first on top of being in school. I was at Pierce from September 2008 until June 2011 and during that time period I would say I was not involved on campus at all and I made maybe one actual new friend.

I was completely unaware of anything that the campus had to offer me outside of taking classes. I never really considered myself to be joining a community of people. I approached community college as if I were an isolated individual trying to earn a grade and move on. It wasn’t until I was at the University of Washington Tacoma when I realized that I had made a big mistake that had professional, personal and social consequences. At UWT I began to hear more about the importance of networking and joining in on efforts to serve others. I began to realize that my experiences and resume were lacking due to this approach that caused me to go to class and then immediately leave campus once class ended.

I never took advantage of resources on campus at Pierce. I never once attended a sporting event. I never met with my professors during office hours. I never signed up for or attended anything that wasn’t required. I was so out of touch with the campus that during quarters when I had more than a one hour gap between my first and second class I would often leave and not make it back. I grew a lot as a student over time and learned the importance of actually being present for every class. I realized that a gap in my schedule did not have to be and should not have been considered dead time. I should have been making the most out of my time on campus even if it meant going to the library to read or complete an assignment for class. My poorest academic performance was at the community college level as I saw increases to my GPA once to I transferred to UWT and an even bigger boost once I entered graduate school. Eventually you will find out what works best for you.

It’s ok to be rusty in the beginning. It’s ok to not be at peak performance level during the initial stages of your transition from prison to college. If you can learn anything from my experiences though it is to know your campus and know it well. Don’t simply learn which building is which and where stuff is, actually go inside and make connections.

Even if you feel you have done well take one of your papers reviewed by the writing and tutoring center. Sign up to attend a student workshop. Join in on a service opportunity. Attend a meeting for a campus organization or club. Apply for a job on campus. Get to know your peers!

This is the time and the place to do work on you! You have an opportunity to enhance your resume and obtain the skills and connections that will lead to a successful career down the road. Make sure that you plan ahead and keep an eye toward the future in everything that you do and be as involved on your campus as you can possibly be.