Student to Student Advice

Staff Reporter and Photographer Erin McRoy

College isn’t that hard, said former CNM student Rhiannon Salas, if students know how to navigate the website, academics, and the resources available to them.

Salas said the classes at CNM are smaller making it an easier transition from high school to college.

Rhiannon Salas, former CNM Student

“It’s not as scary as you think it’ll be,” said Salas. “In high school they make it seem like this super scary moment and it’s going to be the hardest thing ever and your professors are going to be completely evil—it’s not like that.”

Incoming students should know that their education can be largely covered by filling out the FAFSA, according to Salas who paid for her first year through Grants and the Lottery scholarship.

Students should always fill out the FAFSA, because they may qualify for more than they thought, said Salas, commenting, “You’re giving me money? I get this? Cool.”

The FAFSA requires parental tax information which can impact a student’s aid eligibility, said Salas who had to get into her savings account one year because her mother had gotten a bonus.

She was told, “You make too much money. It was one bonus! I had savings so it was fine, but what do you mean I don’t get that? I’m not rich.”

Salas recommended staying away from student loans if possible, because so many people owe the government for their education and have trouble paying that money back.

Classes fill up quickly, limiting options for times and locations, which is why Salas recommended registering for classes as soon as possible.

“Literally, the second you can is the best time to register for classes,” she said.

According to Salas this ensures students get the classes they need at the times they want, but it also means that students have time to changes schedules if necessary.

Salas didn’t know that the library offered laptops to rent for students and admits that she would have liked to know more about the resources available for students at CNM.

She said she considered work study, but didn’t know where to get information about applying and would like to see that made clearer to students.

Students interested in work study should check with financial aid and CNM careers for more information, said Salas.

Wait before purchasing your school textbooks until the first week of class, said Salas, since most professors won’t expect students to have their books until financial aid kicks in.

“Chegg is awesome. Why? Because you can rent your books used and it’s super cheap! Cheaper than renting from the Bookstore,” said Salas.

Salas admitted that sometimes students have to buy from the Bookstore and they can use financial aid there to purchase school supplies, but if students can shop elsewhere it would be cheaper.

Every student should have at least a pencil and a notebook at the minimum for class, she said.

Salas said while not every student needs a laptop, school isn’t doable without a computer anymore.

“You don’t have to have a fancy laptop or anything, why, because that’s what the library’s for. You can go use their computers,” she said.

For those students planning to drive to school, Salas said to get there early enough to find parking because the general parking lot fills up quickly and students may have to walk a ways to get to their classes.

Even if students arrive an hour or so before their class, there are plenty of places inside to sit, and at least students will have a parking spot, said Salas.

“Even if it’s a bad parking place, at least you got to park somewhere,” she said.

When Salas first started at CNM, she didn’t know what she wanted to major in and went to an advisor for help.

She admitted that her encounters meeting with advisors were very helpful, but not everyone has the same experience.

When meeting with an advisor, Salas urged students to have specific questions in mind and to meet with the same advisor if possible.

“I guess, you never know, you don’t know what you’re going to get. Maybe that’s the key. Maybe you should just consistently try to shoot for the same advisor,” said Salas.

Salas encouraged students to get familiar with Degree Works to track their progress and to do research online about what resources are available.


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