When I moved to Colorado, I had no clue what I was going to do. I came here in March 2007 from a small town in North Dakota. I was in the workforce for 12 years, getting my first job right after high school. I had worked up the corporate ladder, landing a job as an assistant human resources manager and lead trainer in a customer service call center.

I thought I would have no trouble finding a job in Colorado. After all, I had great references, a strong work ethic, I’m honest, etc. After four painstakingly difficult months and countless interviews, I was finally told by the company I was interviewing with that the other candidate had a degree and I did not. The next day, I began my search for colleges.

I needed an accredited college.

I asked around and one piece of advice I got was that any college that has to advertise on late-night TV is not a college that I should go to! Sure enough, I looked at the fine print, and I noticed that they were not accredited. That means that you can take classes with them, but when it comes time to transfer credits to get your bachelor or masters degree, most of the credits will NOT transfer so all of your time and money will go to waste.

I knew, also, that I was not prepared for a university setting. I barely passed high school—and that was over a decade ago!

Accessibility is important.

Wheelchair access is the most important thing for me because I have a severe physical disability. I called several schools in the Denver Metro area but one campus stuck out for me—Front Range Community College in Westminster. The disability advisor, JoAnna Bennett, didn’t mess around. When I told her about my needs, she didn’t bat an eye. Instead, she said, “Our campus is one of the flagship campuses for disability services in the state. Come take a tour, and I’ll show you around.” I couldn’t believe how accessible it was! Before the second day of researching colleges, my mind was already made up.

Front Range has great resources to help you succeed.

The first step for me was orientation. I had no idea what to expect of my first college experience and I learned most of it through orientation. From navigating the room numbers and floors to the bookstore and, most fun of it all…Student Life!

With the Math and Writing Labs, students can go to the labs and get one-on-one assistance from professors Monday-Friday. Doing your homework in the lab is the best idea because there is help when you need it. Office hours are posted on the professor’s doors or written on their syllabi. Write these down in your school agenda. Most professors keep one or two copies of the textbooks on reserve in the library.

And what college experience wouldn’t be complete without extracurriculars?

I have a lot of passion surrounding politics, so I joined the Student Government Association (SGA). I learned many leadership-oriented skills incorporating fundraising, accountability, teamwork, and more. I also took two jobs to pay my way through college: a call center representative and a reporter/photographer for the Front Page newspaper (after all, I am a journalism major).

But if you’re not into politics or news, there are plenty of activities and ways to be involved. To make the most out of your college experience, be sure to look around. There are signs and posters and bulletins everywhere. From the Gay-Straight Alliance to the Bible Study groups, you’ll be rewarded every time you become involved.

I owe my success to Front Range.

They taught me great study habits, how to navigate financial aid, and more. When it came time to transfer for my bachelor degree, I transferred to the School of Journalism at CU Boulder. It’s a very competitive program to get into. Each year, approximately 300 students apply from around the country and only 15 got in 2009. I was one of them! I miss Front Range, but I am so proud of my experience and I would recommend Front Range Community College to anyone.

No matter what prompted you to go to school, whether you’ve never been to college, or tried a university and have been disappointed or are just looking to change careers, you’ll never find a better place to go. FRCC has diverse populations, non-traditional and traditional students, and people that will help you every step of the way!

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