Book author says reach out, make friends and find mentors


Q. What made you decide to write Community College Success?

I was a community college transfer student and after I finished my own degree, I worked in Student Life at a community college. I soon realized that successful students shared a common pattern. They all made friends with other students who supported them; they reached out to career mentors early on; and they weren’t afraid to get to know their professors. I call this the “three Ps”-reaching out to Peers, Professors and Professionals-and it’s the way to make the most of college.

Q. What advice do you have for students just entering a community college?

Never just go to class and then go home. I call this “drive through education” and I don’t think it’s enough. Go to the Student Life Office at your community college and find out how to get involved in clubs, student government or honor societies.Students who go to class and then go home pay to go to college-but students who make time to do more will get paid to go to college. By meeting people and building job skills, you’re building relationships that will turn into scholarships, interviews, references and paying jobs later.

Q. Why do you refer to community college as “private school education at public school cost?”

The best part of the private college I went to after I won my transfer scholarship was the small classes. But I experienced that at my community college too. I knew who my professors were and I could go in and talk to them any time. Sure there were more coffee stands and nicer facilities at the private college, but for me, it was very similar to community college.

Q. Why do you think more students don’t consider the community college transfer route?

There is still a stigma that community college is a back-up plan if you slacked off in high school. But you’re the only one who can take responsibility for your grades and you must do this to succeed. Yes, anyone can get in community college but it turns out that’s also what makes it really special. If you think about the American dream, it’s about inclusivity. People from many different backgrounds can grow and thrive through the education.

Book Review

Isa Adney was disappointed when family finances prevented her from attending the private university she’d dreamed of.

Instead she enrolled at her local community college, and she soon found plenty to love. She excelled academically, became a student leader and graduated with a $110,000 scholarship to complete her bachelor’s and graduate degrees.

Today she helps first-generation college students like herself make the most of the experience with her new book and at her blog

Because first generation college students don’t have parents who’ve attended college to point the way, Adney explains how to build a network of friends, mentors and advisors to provide that important support.

Start conversations with other students, join clubs, build new friendships. “Community colleges bring people together from all walks of life and getting to know them will change you,” she says.

Her second important piece of advice is to reach out to professors and college staff. These people have access to knowledge and information students need to be successful.

Adney says her own career “evolved into something I never dreamed of thanks to a group of people who expanded my limited viewpoint of the professional world.”

This book is a fantastic resource for students who plan to make community college the first step toward a four-year degree or beyond-and it can help all students understand the importance of building relationships for academic and professional success.

Download the first chapter of Community College Success for free at