7 Tips for Community College-Bound Students from SRA SOAR Scholar Darwin Lopez

Students Rising Above Advisor Rose Allen interviewed Darwin Lopez, an SRA SOAR Scholar and student at Merritt College in Oakland, California, who shared seven tips for community college-bound high school students!

SOAR Scholar Darwin Lopez, currently at Merritt College

1) Find Your Network

Make an effort to meet people you can rely on and talk to about your goals. Talk to people in your classes to find your support network. Darwin got involved in the SRA SOAR Program to meet people with similar motivations!

2) Join a Club

It can be hard to make friends at a community college, so try joining a club. If your college doesn’t offer many extracurricular activities or if it doesn’t align with your schedule, look for off-campus opportunities.

3) Figure Out Your Academic and Career Goals

After high school, Darwin was not sure what he wanted to study, so he took a gap year. He volunteered in Senegal through Global Citizen Year. When he returned, he had a clear academic goal to focus on. He knew he wanted to major in International Relations. He even took summer and winter courses so he could stay on track and finish community college in two years.

The earlier you determine your career goals, the sooner you can determine your major. Once you know your major, you can focus on taking required courses so that you can transfer or graduate sooner.

4) Research Transferring

If you plan to transfer, research the transfer requirements at each school you are considering. Make sure you’re taking the required courses and maintaining the required GPA.

5) Manage Your Time

It’s especially important to know how to manage your time wisely, especially around midterms! Make sure you have enough time to study or you might start to panic.

6) Use Office Hours

Don’t be afraid to talk to professors. You can ask for help about a certain subject or get a clearer explanation of what a professor wants for a specific assignment. Darwin used Rate My Professors to select professors that have a history of being engaging and supportive.

7) Find One Study Buddy per Class

If you ever miss class, you can ask your study buddy for notes. If they ever miss class, you can share your notes with them. It’s great to have someone you can rely on!


Darwin’s seven tips align wonderfully with many of our SRA Hub Resources! Check out the SRA Hub articles for more information and to view this article.