I started coming to Bellevue College at the age of 21, after three years of working odd jobs and generally just wasting time. I knew that when I graduated high school, I just didn’t have the maturity level to thrive in college. I wasted more time than I should have, but when I finally did come, I was ready. I had a poor high school GPA and a small income from my part-time job, so BC seemed like the perfect choice. My story is not atypical especially on our campus, but then, no one’s story here is typical at all. There are Running Start students and international students, continuing education students and nursing students. their ages range from 16 to 80 and they are all here for different reasons. What they do share are the myriad of powerful resources available to them here to begin or further their educations.
I think people get down on this institution (and junior colleges in general) far too much. There are students who have negative and cynical attitudes about their studies here, talking about the day they transfer out to a “real” college. There are also some younger students, who are still in the process of blossoming into fully developed critical thinkers, complaining about their professors being too vague and unhelpful in their instruction. The first group of students take the resources here for granted, and the second group doesn’t yet fully appreciate just what those resources are.
The resources I’m referring to are the brains of our highly educated and incredibly erudite teaching faculty. I have had such a wonderful privilege at BC to be in small classrooms, five days a week, with smart and interesting professors. They are professionals who are not more interested in their own research or writing like some university professors, professionals who actually teach their classes instead of having graduate students do it. The opportunity to pick their brains, listen to their opinions and individually ask them questions about their fields of expertise is truly a gift. It’s also a gift that I pay for with my tuition, and I think it is incredibly important to take advantage of that.
The resource I’m referring to is the spirit of our incredibly dedicated staff, which provide us with so many different forms of support: tutoring, career counseling, technology support, academic advising, student program advising and the all-too-unsung library staff. Any problem or concern that a student might have, there is someone on campus who can address it.
For people who don’t take the traditional route after high school, or those who are returning to school, or anyone else, BC provides an incredibly student-centric and intellectually stimulating environment. The thing is, students have to be resourceful in seeking other kinds of council from the institution, no one is going to do it for them; that is true of any college environment. Except in this case, it’s not. This college makes all of its services so accessible and its staff promotes them so tirelessly, that there really is no excuse for not taking advantage of them.
I encourage students to re-examine just how much they involve themselves here at BC besides simply attending class. Are you frustrated with classes? Go to your professor’s office hours and start a dialogue with them or seek tutoring at the Academic Success Center. Are you unsure of what your plan is, either immediate or future? Go to the Student Services offices in building B and make an appointment with an academic advisor. Can’t figure out how to use Canvas? Go to the tech café in the N building and talk to a very knowledgeable guy named Ron.
All of these people are literally paid to serve you, the student, and ensure your success, so make them earn their living. I guarantee they won’t mind.