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When getting started, seek out advice

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Students filling out the application online

Paper applications are also available. - New students learn that they can complete the application online.

Jeff Guenther, a peer advisor at the Sylvania Campus Advising Office, says the best way to start your career at PCC is to get advice. When students have filled out the application, and taken the placement test (for high school grads), their next step should be sitting down with an academic advisor.

"You have to determine what your ultimate goal is academically," he said. "Maybe you don’t know what to major in. Academic advisors can help with that. They can show you some general classes that work well with most any major, so as you go through classes for the next year, you will then be able to decide which major is right for you."

To get started at PCC, students must fill out an application online or in person at any admissions office. "It’s really straightforward," said Guenther. "It’s basically filling out information about who you are."

Once the application process is finished, students are ready for the placement test. They need to schedule a time to come in to take it. The placement test helps to determine where the student is academically and what classes they will need to start with.

"The placement test is a painless process," said Guenther. "However, it’s important for people to know that this is a testing situation and some who aren’t great test takers may not do as well as they’d like. A lot of times, staff in the academic departments can help correct that. They are helpful in sitting down with students one-on-one to go over things. If you are at a good level and just had a bad test, those people can help facilitate bumping you up to a higher level in areas like writing and math."

When testing is complete, students then must talk with an academic advisor to see which classes best fit their needs. No matter if you are a high school graduate or a transferring student, it’s prudent to discuss your area of studies or interests with an advisor.

Take it from Guenther as he knows how college works. He recently graduated with an associate’s degree in mechanical engineering technology. He plans to transfer to Oregon Institute of Technology and get a bachelor’s degree. When he came to PCC nine years ago, Guenther first started out in an area of his interest – the aviation maintenance technology program at the Rock Creek Campus. Since then he has taken time off from school to work as a mechanic for the Troutdale Airport.

Students filling out paper application.

However, he came back a few years ago to finish his engineering studies. A NASA scholarship recipient and peer advisor where he helped fellow students acclimate to college, Guenther plans to continue working on aircraft in the future, especially in the design aspect of aviation and possibly help build aircraft. He says going to PCC has made transferring to OIT easier because of the dual enrollment agreement with both schools.

"It is much more efficient to know what your ultimate plan is from the start, but not absolutely necessary, especially if you plan to go on to four-year college," he said. "But it certainly helps to sit down with an advisor and discuss your future. It’s really easy."

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »

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