Are you worried about being ready to take college-level classes or complete the program requirements? Were there classes that were harder for you in high school? Did you struggle to pass the Smarter Balanced Assessment or other tests to graduate?

Students, especially those who are the first in their family to go to college, can find the college enrollment and course selection process intimidating. The terminology used when talking about college can be confusing, and there might be terms you don’t know. Remember, it is your job to advocate for yourself, and there are people who want to help you. The most important part of this process is to be willing to ask for help. And if the first person you ask can’t help you, keep asking until you understand what is needed.

There is help! Colleges have support systems to keep you moving forward with your academic goals.

Course Placement Assessments

A course placement assessment helps colleges place you in courses at your level, especially math and English. Different colleges have different placement test requirements and should share the information with you during the admissions process.

You should brush up on your skills and prepare for course placement assessments. Doing well could mean the difference between getting into college-level courses that meet your degree requirements or having to take extra preparation courses that cost you money and time. Ask for practice materials and online resources. If you feel the placement result doesn’t reflect your level, ask if you can practice more and re-take the assessment.

Academic Resources

Every college has free resources to help students succeed in their classes. Math tutoring, writing lab, and the computer support desk are common student supports. There is often help available on a drop-in basis, as well as more in-depth one-on-one help with a class or subject area. Online tutoring can give you access to assistance even when you are not on campus. Some colleges also offer supplemental instruction, where trained fellow students lead study sessions for a particularly challenging class. Student services can also help you find coaches or mentors who can guide you with study skills and time management. For research skills, college library staff can guide you with strategies for your class projects.

Accessibility and Learning Disabilities

If your academic concerns are related to a disability, contact your college advisor or disability services staff, who are usually located in Student Services offices on campus. Colleges are required to provide appropriate academic accommodations for students with documented disabilities. If you don’t know what qualifies as a documented disability, talk to your advisor or disability services staff. Your advisor or disability services staff can answer your questions, explain the process, and help you with communications with your professors.


  • If you had special education classes in high school, or had an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), you may be eligible for help transitioning to college.

  • Talk with the college advisor about any academic concerns you may have. Your advisor will share options to build your skills with developmental courses and can often recommend course sections or professors that will be a good fit.

  • Work with a college academic advisor to create an educational plan that includes any developmental or support classes.

Ask the College

  • Am I required to take a placement test? Are there other alternatives to demonstrate my background and skills?

  • If you received special assistance in high school, ask what accommodations are available for both assessments and instruction.

  • What campus resources provide academic tutoring, library research help, and tech support? Are they available online when I’m not on campus?


  • ACCUPLACER helps students become familiar with the content and format of the ACCUPLACER test questions, used as the placement test for most community and technical colleges.

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