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Things I wish I would have known when I started at GRCC

New installation of a wooden GRCC wall on the 4th floor of Raleigh J. Finkelstein Hall. (Breegan Petruska/The Collegiate)

By Mary Baker

Grand Rapids Community College is an amazing community college with numerous resources to assist students with success. Locating buildings can be difficult but the onboarding process is easy. Even though I enjoyed my first semester at GRCC there are some things I would have liked to know when I enrolled.  

Checkout free tech. It was my first day in my math class and I did not have my laptop yet. I was waiting for my financial aid to be released. Before the end of the class my math teacher informs the class that the library loans out laptops and wifi boxes for the semester. That was perfect for me. After class I went to the library and got my loaner laptop and wifi box. I wouldn’t say this tech is free because our tuition is paying for them.

Prep for placement tests. For incoming students I would advise studying for the ALEKS math placement test. Please don’t be like me. I knew I wasn’t a mathematician but I was only a few points away from placing into math 107. I was lazy and didn’t retake the placement test so I had to take math 98 which is not counted as a math credit. Ultimately, you want to save money and time. 

Apply for a campus job. I am an independent student which means I don’t get help from anyone so I have to work. Juggling a full time course load and working full time was beginning to affect my grades. I was unaware of all the job opportunities that were available for students on campus. I would see some postings on the bulletin boards near the  Student Life but most of them were off campus jobs. Near the end of the semester I had a classmate from my math class suggest I find an on campus job for next semester. 

I searched student employment on the GRCC website and a variety of jobs popped up.

I applied for two or three of them but my friend recommended I reach out to her old boss because the Academic Testing Center was hiring. I applied for the position and was hired on the spot. The hiring process was easy. I had to submit proof of identification, a background check, and send in my banking information. I have been working in the testing center for the whole semester and I was approved for work study.  With the student wage increase to $12.50 and the ability to keep up with your school work, working on campus can be beneficial. 

Join a student organization. Did you know our school has a student government? My first semester I was unaware of all the student organizations. Occasionally you may see some activities around campus and the question is who is responsible for these events and why I wasn’t notified? You probably were notified but didn’t read your emails from the student organizations. Most people think it is spam mail or auto generated emails. Many of us only check our emails from our teachers, financial aid, and the enrollment office. I was guilty of that in my first semester. 

Our school has a website that posts all the upcoming events,details about different organizations, and forms to vote. The website is called the Raider Connect

Pay attention and get free stuff. I love a good distraction occasionally and I am a bit nosy but my nosiness has given me great tips about GRCC. They say curiosity killed the cat but curiosity has helped me find free snacks, notebooks, binders, pens, highlighters and other tools you will need for class. 

I was making up a quiz for my math class. The math teachers offices are in the College Park Plaza. On the second floor you will find a station that has snacks: cup noodles, raviolis, Pop-tarts and popcorn. It’s on a first come first serve basis but since many students were unaware I was always able to have a free lunch whenever I wanted. 

Across from the snacks is an office, there is usually someone sitting at the reception desk. If you ask them about the free notebooks, the secretary will unlock the cabinets for you. The notebooks are new but the binders and highlighters are used, but of great quality. 

One of my supervisors is a GRCC graduate and also one of the lead proctors in the testing center. She uses GRCC daycare. 

I would suggest students read their emails and use the Raider Connect to stay updated about all the campus events. Also try to join an organization to gain even more knowledge and build connections. I have to multitask and I love having fun. It has been beneficial to my grades and my energy. I am excited to enter my third semester at GRCC and with all the things I have learned I know I can succeed. In the wake of GRCC’s latest tuition increase, I will be taking advantage of all the resources the college has to offer. 

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