Tips for surviving college

For first semester students at Skyline, the road ahead may seem complicated and fraught with peril. On behalf of those that feel lost in the fray, The Skyline View staff have compiled a list of resources and advice. From electives to scholarships, this is what you need to know to survive and thrive at Skyline College.

Class selection:

Don’t limit yourself to general education classes, but do proceed with a plan.

Some might feel that tackling a full load of General Education (GE) classes is the most efficient path. Without one or two classes that actually spark the imagination and get students enthusiastic about learning, burnout can happen faster then anticipated. If you are planning on going full speed ahead, think of your electives as a break from the work load of your GE classes.
Sticking strictly to offbeat classes could make your Skyline career fun but long, and when you are ready to move on, you will likely find that you have a lot of catching up to do. On the flip side, throwing a class like archery or photography into a typical GE schedule is a good way to schedule some “me time”.

Human resources:

Do talk to a counselor. Don’t be intimidated by the lines, or more accurately, mobs of people in Building 2. Especially this early in the semester, putting counseling off until tomorrow could mean that you find out crucial information a day too late.

Drop-in visits are limited to brief questions, but appointments can be made via WebSmart for a full half hour session. There is no bad time to talk to a counselor, but for long-term goals – including class selections – it is recommended to talk with an advisor prior to the start of the semester, or semesters, you wish to discuss.

In addition to counseling services, first year students should look into the First Year Experience (FYE) program. The FYE places students in groups that proceed through core classes together with the help of supplemental counseling and case management. All students are eligible as long as they place in MATH 110 and ENGL 846 and commit to the class schedule, which consists of COUN 100 AY, MATH 110 AY, and ENGL 846 AY for the first semester.

There is also a First Year Experience club that meets on Thursdays from 2-3 p.m. in a location to be determined. Contact Arielle Smith or Younga Choi for more information about the FYE.

Social networking:

Don’t put on blinders and attempt to go it alone. This is a community college. Most people are fairly new here, and the student population is eclectic in skills, knowledge, and experience. Making acquaintances is a great way to passively keep yourself informed and up to date. Those acquaintances also turn into friends who can provide both study support, and social support when necessary.

As an added bonus, your confidence may get an unexpected boost from helping out a fellow student.

Don’t limit your campus social circle to just students. Faculty and staff are great people to have on a first name basis. Often a professor or department head can offer just as much, if not more, counseling during their office hours than a general counselor can during an appointment. The benefit of speaking to faculty from a particular department, rather than general counselors, is that you can get more personalized information. No one knows how to proceed through a particular department like the faculty of that department, and if they are already familiar with you as a student, and what your goals are, so much the better for you.

Financial resources:

Fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It is free, after all, and you need to file it in order to receive certain types of financial aid.

In addition to federal financial aid, students should apply for the Board of Governor’s fee waiver (BOG) through WebSmart, but know that if you do fill out a FAFSA application you will automatically be applied for the BOG waiver.

Students should also pursue as many scholarships as possible, both from the San Mateo County Community College District, and from other sources. It may seem like scholarships are only for hard luck stories or the best of the best, but in truth, all types of financial aid are available for all types of people. The time it takes to fill out a few applications could end up being worth hundreds, or thousands of dollars, toward your education.


Ultimately, your college success will be about finding the right balance between business and pleasure. Lean on the resources that Skyline provides, build your social network, and have fun while keeping your eyes on the finish line, and your college experience will be a rewarding experience from start to finish.