8 Steps to Community College

Step 1

Choose a Community College

How do I choose a Community College if I’m not sure what I want to do?  

It is good to start by figuring out what career you’d like to get into. That will help you choose a college that has the right training program.

If you’re not sure of what career you’d like to pursue, there are free online tools that can help you to find out.
Examples of free online tools are:

These tools are designed to help you explore Career Options—this exploration process will help with the decision of which Community College to choose. 

Now that I have explored different career options, what else should I consider when choosing
a Community College?

The next step for choosing a Community College involves choosing a college that is in a convenient location and is easy & safe for you to get to. It is also important to make sure it has the right student support services & academic programs.

  • Location: Choosing a school that is easy to get to is important. If the location is too far from your house, then it might be hard to make it to class. Do you have a car, will you need to take the bus, or is it close enough to walk or ride a bike?
  • Academic Programs: Does the community college have the program you are looking for? If you are still unsure of exactly what you want to do, does the community college have 2 or more options that you are interested in?
  • Student Support Services: Does the Community College have support for Foster Youth? Support for students who are also moms? Support for book vouchers, food vouchers or bus passes?

Step 2

Create your OpenCCC Apply Account

What do I need to complete the OpenCCC Apply application?  

  • Your Social Security number.

What is OpenCCC?  

The OpenCCC Apply Account is the first of 2 required applications for Community College. This account allows students to attend multiple Community Colleges or transfer between Colleges. You might also hear this called the Community College Portal.

How do I create an OpenCCC Apply Account? 

  1. Go to the CCC Apply website at https://home.cccapply.org/
  2. At the top of the website, click on “Create Account”
  3. You must have an email address to start the OpenCCCapply account. If you do not have an email address, there are free email accounts on the OpenCCCapply website. The email providers are Google Gmail, Yahoo email, and Microsoft Outlook.
  4. If you are not sure which email provider to choose, Google Gmail is the easiest and most commonly used provider. This is also a great option for school because you can access Google Docs, Excel, and Powerpoint for FREE.
    If you already have an email, then you can skip creating a new email all together.
  5. After you have created your new email, or decide to use one you already have, the next step is to “Begin Creating My Account”
  6. After you “Begin Creating My Account”, there will be 3 pages of questions that must be filled out.
  7. At the end of the question pages, there will be a question about which schools to register for. The school of choice is up to you and which Community College you are interested in.
  8. After all the questions to the application have been answered and the Community College has been selected, click on “Submit Application”.
  9. Submitting the application is the last step in creating an OpenCCCApply Account.
  10. **Save ALL Login information and PIN for the OpenCCCApply Account, you will need it to register through the Community College Website.

Step 3

Register at your Community College of Choice

Now that I created my OpenCCC Apply Account, how do I apply through the Community College website?  

Once you have decided which community college you would like to attend, you can register online through the individual college’s websites.
For example: West Valley College

  • West Valley College, you go to their website at Westvalley.edu
  • Hover over the “Admissions” tab and a drop down menu will appear.  In the drop down menu you will see “Apply Now”.
  • The “5 Easy Steps to Becoming a Student at West Valley College” will appear and then click “Apply Online”.
  • After clicking “Apply Online”, there will be an option that says “Online Application”.
  • Scroll to the bottom of the page and “Begin Your Application” will appear.
  • Once you begin your application, you will be required to sign into the OpenCCC portal.

Once registered online, you will receive an email with your student ID number within 2-3 business days. This student ID number means you are officially a student at your community college of choice.
All of the Community College websites are similar to the West Valley College registration process. The “Admissions” tab is where the “Apply Now” option will be located.

Step 4

Apply for Student Services (EOPS, TRiO, PUENTE, CalWORKs, or DSPS)

What do I need to apply for Student Support Services?  

  • Your student ID number.

What are Student Support Services?  

Before you do anything else, it is important to register for the student support services. These services are free, and designed for students like you. These services offer you the ability to register for classes early, receive specialized academic counseling and one-on-one attention, and other supports that you might need to stay enrolled in college and complete your courses.

Student Support Services are designed to help you with:

  • Academic counseling
  • Financial support
  • Priority registration
  • Assessment exam registration
  • Class registration
  • Book Vouchers
  • Food Vouchers
  • Child Care
  • Bus Passes

The programs are:

  • TRiO
  • Foster Care Programs
  • DSPS
  • CalWORKs

For more information on specific programs, visit OYP’s Community College Support Programs page.

How do I access Student Support Services?  

Student support services are located in the Student Support Services building on every Community College Campus.
You can walk into the Student Support Service building and ask for an application to sign up for the different Support Programs.

Step 5

Apply for FAFSA & Other Financial Aid 

What do I need to apply for Financial Aid?   

  1. You will need your and your parents Social Security Number
  2. For the 2018-2019 school year, you need your and your parents 2016 tax returns (w2 or 1040 or 1040A forms)
  3. ***If you are in the foster system or born before January 1st 1995, you may not need parent information***

What is FAFSA?   

FAFSA means Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Federal student aid (often this is just called financial aid) is money to help you go to college.

  • Usually, this means free money to help you cover the cost of college and can even help with living expenses.

How do I apply for FAFSA?  

  • The Financial Aid Application can be tricky. However, when you enroll in EOPS, Trio, Puente, Foster Care Programs and DSPS, they will give you all the help necessary to fill out your FAFSA.
  • You can access the FAFSA through the FAFSA website https://fafsa.ed.gov/
  • To complete the 2018-2019 FAFSA you will need: your Social Security number, your 2016 tax information, your parents 2016 tax information, and your parents social security numbers.
  • If you are a Foster Youth, on your FAFSA application you will be asked if you have ever been involved in foster care, make sure you mark YES (if you lived in a group home for a week, you can still mark YES). You are eligible for the CHAFEE Grant.

Are there additional financial aid options I can apply for?   

The BOG Fee Waiver (Board of Governors Fee Waiver) is a separate application from the FAFSA. If you meet all requirements, the BOG Fee waiver will waive all tuition costs for school.

  • Students who qualify for AB 540 status, may be eligible for the BOG Fee Waiver.

The California Dream Act: for students who are non U.S citizens, the Dream Act is an application that is similar to the FAFSA. The Dream Act allows students who are AB 540 eligible to receive state financial aid at California public and private colleges. Link: https://dream.csac.ca.gov/.

  • For more information about the Dream Act application and AB 540 eligibility, click here.

FAFSA and Dream Act is open year round, HOWEVER March 2nd or September 2nd is the latest deadline. (must submit GPA by March 2nd  or September 2nd).

Step 6

Take the Assessment Test

What do I need to take the Assessment Test?  

  1. Your Student ID number
  2. Your Photo ID

What is the Assessment Test – why do I need to take this test?  

The purpose of the assessment test is to assess you and see where you are academically. It is NOT a pass-fail test and does not exclude you from admission to the Community Colleges. It is simply a test to see were you are academically to evaluate the appropriate class course level.

You are required to take the assessment exam before registering for classes. The exam scores are what will determine which classes you are eligible for.

How do I register for the Assessment Test?  

  • You MUST have your student ID number & a photo ID to register for the assessment exam.
  • To schedule the assessment test, you can either call or register online through the Community College Website, or some campuses offer walk-in hours. You can find their assessment calendar on their websites.
  • Student Support Services can also help you with the Assessment Test registration.

Step 7

Attend Orientation and Create an Academic Plan

What do I need to attend orientation?  

  1. Student ID number
  2. Photo ID

What is orientation?  

All students must attend an orientation in order to register for classes.
Orientation is designed to help students become familiar with the College Campus, meet new incoming students, and become familiar with the available student support services.

  • Orientation can be taken online and runs for about 2 hours.
  • Orientation can also be attended in person and runs for about 2 hours.

What is an Academic Plan?  

Once you take the assessment exam and receive your scores, you are now able to create your Academic Plan.

  • All students are required to see a counselor to create an academic plan.
  • Students should have an Academic Plan in order to register for classes.

Counselors are available within each Student Support Service program to help with your Academic Plan.
It is important for you to see a counselor prior to class registration. The counselor will help you to create an Academic Plan that will map out exactly what classes to take according to your major and GE requirements.

  • This plan will keep you on track for graduation.
  • This academic plan is designed to map out the exact set of classes you need to achieve your goals during the 2 or 3 years you will be at the community college.
  • The academic plans have every class you are responsible for taking and what semester to take those classes.

You are HIGHLY advised to see a counselor at least once every semester to go over the academic plan.

Once you have your academic plan set, it is time to register for classes!

Step 8

Register for Classes

What do I need to register for classes?  

  • Student ID number

How do I register for classes?  

After you received your student ID number, taken the assessment test, and created your academic plan, it is now time for class registration.
You can register for classes through the Community College Portals.

  • West Valley and Mission College Portals are called “My West Valley-Mission Portal”
  • De Anza and Foothill College Portals are called “My Portal”
  • Evergreen and San Jose City College Portals are called “My Web”
  • Gavilan College Portal is called “My Gav”

Registration Steps

  1. Once you have logged into your Community College’s Portal. There will be an option that says “Register for Classes”.
  2. Click on “Register for Classes” and you will see your registration dates and times. There are set dates when you are eligible to register for classes.
  3. Once you are able to register for classes, the last step is to search for the appropriate classes.
    For example:

– If you want to register for English 1A, you would search “English 1A” and a list of different classes will appear.
– There are multiple times when you can take a class. This is a perk of being in college– you can schedule your classes for
X anytime you want.
– If you are not a morning person, you can schedule your earliest class starting at 12pm, or as late as 6pm.

The school’s portal is where you will be able to register for classes, check grades, request transcripts, and check financial aid applications.

Click here to print the 8 Steps to Community College. For additional tools related to education and career, visit OYP’s Resources page.