If you’re looking for sun, fun and an intellectually stimulating US college experience, all you need to do is to head to a community college in Huntington Beach, Southern California. This is the advice Golden West College (GWC) graduate Keira Truong would give to anyone in search of a dynamic starting point after high school.
Truong would know. At the age of 16, Keira came to the US from Vietnam. She graduated high school in Seattle and started looking into universities close by until her mother convinced her to branch out and consider states that were not as chilly as Washington. Wouldn’t sunny California be a great option to consider? That was how Truong found out about GWC and its comprehensive science program — they ticked the boxes of where and what she would like to study.
Most importantly? It would save Truong’s family a lot of money. The 24-year-old describes it as a “smart investment” to go to GWC — a win-win situation where she was able to take university-level classes with more reasonable tuition costs.
As the cost of tuition soars across the country, more students and parents are searching for a savvier alternative to a typical four-year university degree. Like Truong, many high school graduates soon discover community colleges offer them the option to explore their passions before making a definite plan for their future in universities or elsewhere.
At GWC, Truong majored in chemistry, where her professors kept a keen eye on her academic progress. ‘’All of the professors were supportive, dedicated, and inspired,’’ she says.
She also had an academic counsellor who helped her throughout the transfer process. She “assisted me in brainstorming, advised me to write about my experiences organically and taught me how to explain what made me so unique,’’ Truong says. The result? Truong was accepted to not one, but four top University of California campuses: San Diego, Berkeley, Los Angeles and Irvine.
All the knowledge Keira gained under the wings of her professors prepared her greatly for what was to come after her transfer to UC San Diego. “My friend did not lie when she said GWC had a strong science program, and I am so glad that I got to start my STEM major here,” she says.
Truong’s experience reflects GWC’s full range of counselling and academic planning services designed to help each student transfer successfully to the universities of their choice.
Amazing co-curricular activities in sunny California
Always focused solely on her academic career, Keira once considered herself to be more of an introvert. Studying in California changed that. From trying her first s’mores at a bonfire to eventually being president of the International Club, she says her time at GWC pulled her out of her comfort zone and transformed her perspective for the better. This is the type of development that is nurtured and encouraged at Golden West.
As president of the International Club, she planned regular volunteer work for club members to take part in, from fixing old equipment at children’s shelters to participating in monthly beach clean-ups. Club meetings were also held weekly where students would get to get a feel of each other’s cultures by experiencing different traditions and foods.
Sometimes they would just sit together, talk, bond and share experiences which provided other international students who were far from home with a family dynamic that supported and uplifted them. “One of the members told me that the club was their go-to place after class. We loved to spend time together and laugh at our silly conversations,’’ she says.
As club president, Keira did her best to make sure her peers felt loved and cared for, which is the exact approach Golden West takes to make sure every student gets a home away from home. Committed to international student success, GWC offers two vibrant programs: The International Student Program and Study Abroad. The Center for Global and Cultural Programs (CGCP) acts as a base for all international and expanded global engagement, whereas the International Student Program provides students with ample support in the forms of specialized academic counselling, visa guidance, and homestay services.
The perks of studying in California
For international students looking to study somewhere that has a summertime vibe all year round, Golden West College is the place to be. With a diverse cultural heritage and history, California provides the perfect environment for students to explore and experience. And Huntington Beach? Known as Surf City, international students get to explore 10 miles of uninterrupted coastline, located just 30 miles south of Los Angeles.
The ideal home away from home, Golden West College caters to students from 36 different countries, giving students the opportunity to interact with people with different philosophies, customs, and outlooks on life. What better way to prepare for an exciting future in the US and beyond?