Scholar Connection | Jan. 2021


Jan 2021


Welcome to 2021!

College is challenging under normal circumstances, but this year took adversity to new levels. We are so proud of you for sticking with it and for all of your accomplishments both big and small. It’s the start of a new year, a new term, and a new beginning. Any stumbles are behind you and will become part of your success story. 

In this email, we will share stories and advice from your peers to remind you that you are part of a larger community of scholars who want to help you achieve your goals. We also share scholarship opportunities, a very helpful scholarship search engine, and important reminders. Please read the email in its entirety.

We wish you all the best for 2021.

If you have advice, photos of you and your mentor, or stories to share with your fellow scholars and the BCS community, please email your college success advisor.

Linda Osuorji
Lynn Walker
Bachelors Degree High Hopes Team

Scholar Advice

This month, we are highlighting the stories and helpful advice from three of BCS scholars on time management, overcoming grief, and preparing for transfer. Read their stories in full on our blog!

Managing Deadlines in 5 Steps!

Aamna A.

2017 CCHH, 2019 HH Transfer Scholar

Aamna is a junior at UC Davis majoring in Global Disease Biology. Through trial and error, she developed her own system to track her many deadlines so nothing slips through the cracks. Learn her strategy and see a sample of her tracking system.

I was having trouble figuring out a good way to organize my assignments, tests, and quizzes. I tried everything; using a planner, bullet journal, online calendar, digital planner, apps, but I still felt overwhelmed.

Finally, I found a way to keep all of my assignments in one place for every class. It is simpler than you’d think. All you need is Google Sheets! I am obsessed with having all my assignments in one place so I can get things done much earlier and check off when I finish assignments. See my sample spreadsheet and follow these steps to create your own:

  • Create the following headings on the top of your spreadsheet: “Due date,” “Class,” “Assignment type,” “Assignment details,” & “Complete”) & color coordinate (e.g. blue for homework, purple for reading and watching videos, and orange for papers and projects, etc.)
  • Fill out the table with all of your due dates, assignments, etc.
  • Select/Highlight the whole table (including the top row)>Double click on “sort range”>Check “Data has header row”>Sort by>”Due Date”
    • Note: Do not write the days of the week yet on your spreadsheet. Write the due dates (e.g 01/01/21). You can add the days after the table is sorted by the date, or even add a separate column for the days so you don’t have to do extra work.
  • To create checkboxes, highlight the column under the “Complete” heading then, at the top of the sheet, click on “Insert” and click on the “checkbox” option
  • Bookmark the tab so you have easy access!

Applying to Transfer with a Little Help

Christian W.

2017 CCHH

Christian is a Political Science major transferring to a Bachelor’s Degree institution in the Fall of 2021. He has been accepted to UC Riverside. Christian writes about his experience applying to UCs and CSUs while juggling work and school.

Fall semester of 2020 was a challenging semester for me due to having to balance my classes with remote learning, while working and also applying as a transfer student for the UC and CSU system.

Applying to UC/CSU as Transfer Student

When applying for the CSU/UC apps, I received assistance from my College Success Advisor. She helped me write my personal insight questions. This was the most difficult and challenging part of the UC application but we scheduled meetings every week to try and make progress on them step by step. This lifted a lot of stress from me. Without their assistance, I wouldn’t have been able to succeed.

Remote Learning

Due to COVID-19, we were forced to engage in remote learning. For me, it was a bit of a challenge as I was a bit uncomfortable getting on zoom to show my face. What I often did to overcome my shyness and other challenges online was to create a new mindset. I customized my room, so I could feel more comfortable doing my online classes. This meant cleaning my room to move things out of the way so everything would be more efficient. I also prioritized my classes using a time management system. This allowed me to become more organized in completing my schoolwork and helped me feel less overwhelmed.

Christian’s Tips 

My overall tips for community college students who are looking to get ready to transfer would be… 

  • Meet with a counselor at least once a month and establish a great relationship. This will help you to feel comfortable meeting with them and hearing what classes they would recommend for your ED plan etc. 
  • For remote learning, I would recommend becoming more organized. Invest in a planner and write down all of your priorities day by day. This will enhance your time management skills. 

And last but not least,

  • For motivation, be sure to take breaks when needed. Check-in with yourself when feeling overwhelmed, and create short term goals to keep your mindset going.

Finding Motivation When Coping with Loss

Alejandro G.

2017 BDHH Scholar

Alejandro is a Business Administration major transferring in the Fall of 2021. He was accepted into Sacramento State. Alejandro and his family faced tremendous grief and loss this year. He shares his moving story and how he got through it. 

The Pandemic and Coping with Loss

This past year has been extremely difficult for me, as I’m sure it has been for many of you. We began the year like any other, but the pandemic struck and things took a turn for the worse. It’s helpful to understand that there are certain things beyond our control and rather than focusing on negative aspects, try shifting your attention towards the things you CAN control and create the positive outcome you desire. 

My semester started off great. Two classes met regularly and three classes were asynchronous, which allowed me to move my schedule around and squeeze in a part-time job to stay afloat financially and simultaneously, learn at my own pace. I allocated my mornings to class meetings, studying and completing homework while dedicating my evenings to work shifts. 

Then in September, I found out one of my cousins in Mexico, just a couple years older than me, had become infected with COVID. The thought of losing the most energetic and outgoing family member at such a young age terrified me and my family. Fortunately, she responded to treatment and recovered within a few weeks. My family and I became even more cautious after the pandemic hit so close to home. 

Days later, two of my mother’s sisters, also in Mexico, became infected with the virus. My mother’s youngest sister had underlying health issues and passed away within days of being hospitalized. Unable to be with my family during that time made me feel helpless. Within a few days, we received news that my uncle had been hospitalized due to health complications. The strict COVID guidelines prevented us from visiting. His health deteriorated considerably, and he also passed away. The loss of two loved ones within a month caused my family a great degree of suffering and stress, and the inability to have a proper farewell made it that much harder to process. 

Grief and Lost Motivation

I tried to move on, to be strong for my parents, and to support them as I knew best, by hiding my true emotions. I continued to attend work and lectures while completing coursework. Eventually I realized I couldn’t run from reality. Grieving, I found myself unable to cope with their losses and get the closure I needed to move on. 

I grew miserable at work, and I slowly stopped participating in classes. At times, I slept through lectures and put off assignments. I started calling off from work with greater frequency. My grades reflected my lack of motivation, as I started to fail all my classes. I lost sense of my priorities and no longer strived to reach my academic goals. 

As midterms approached, I was unprepared. I knew I would need to catch up on schoolwork, if I didn’t want to fail my classes. I tried to catch up, but it seemed impossible. My stress grew. On top of it all, I had not begun my transfer applications. I tried waking up earlier which was a challenge for me but gave me time to study for midterms while also catching up on assignments. I performed decently on midterms but I was still far too behind, and I was growing hopeless. 

Accepting Support and Asking for Help

As the month of November was wrapping up with the holidays around the corner, I received a life-saving phone call from my college success advisor. She reached out to check on me and to share an internship opportunity. Already having a strong sense of trust in her, I couldn’t help but share all I had been going through. As understanding and compassionate as she is, she gave me words of encouragement and quickly started offering solutions. We designed a plan on the next steps I would take and she gave me the motivation I needed to move on. I took on the internship opportunity as a blessing that I could take advantage of, in order to commemorate my loved ones and make them proud. I had something to look forward to and decided to make peace with myself and keep pushing past the obstacles. 

As part of the plan, I wrote an email describing my circumstances to professors in an attempt to get an extension on assignments or even possibly exploring the option of an incomplete. I’m not going to lie, I was very hesitant and quite doubtful of the efforts, yet my advisor convinced me it was worth taking a shot. To my surprise, all my professors were extremely understanding and granted me some type of extension, some more generous than others. In disbelief, I knew I had my work cut out for me as I had to work on transfer applications, complete extended assignments, study for finals and prepare for the interview process of the internship. I got straight to work. I kid you not, I had busted my a** until the very last day of the semester and thought it was never going to end. I had sacrificed various hours of precious sleep but it was all worth it. I managed to pick up my failing grades and passed all my classes with 3 B’s and a C, and I got accepted to Sacramento State! 

My Advice

  • No matter how hard you fall, never give up and get back up because it’s possible and it’s worth it
  • Write down a list of goals, both short-term and long-term to be a constant reminder of what you’re working towards 
  • Design a plan/roadmap for a specific goal to help envision it come to fruition (the more descriptive, the better) 
  • Don’t suppress your feelings, rather acknowledge and validate them by accepting them for what they are 
  • Take care of your mental health, whether it be through self-care or opening up to a friend, family member, co-worker, counselor or anyone you trust; it really helps to get things off your chest rather than carry all that baggage on your shoulders  
  • Manage your time wisely; use a planner or calendar to write down dates and envision time
  • If you don’t seem to have time, make some time! (If there’s time for your phone there’s time for school) 
  • Despite remote learning, engage with professors and peers; attend office hours and create study groups (it will only be more beneficial to you when it comes to studying material for a test)
  • If you’re experiencing hardship in your personal life or have an emergency, reach out to your professors as they are far more understanding than we think, it’s always worth a shot and the worst that can happen is they say no/don’t accept 
  •  If you need academic support, don’t be afraid to reach out to BCS/CSA as they are a vital resource and are here to help you 
  • When studying for long periods of time, take breaks or pauses, whether it be to eat/make a snack, go to the bathroom, take a breather/taking dog for a walk etc 
  • If you struggle with writing, practice word vomit: write down ideas or whatever comes to mind no matter how raw it is as it will help you get started, afterwards you can go in and fix it
  • Please practice social distancing and COVID guidelines/health orders, use a face mask and carry with hand sanitizer for extra protection 


Don’t Miss Out on Your Next Scholarship Check!

Final Reminder!
The Deadline for the Fall Update is Feb.1 at 8:59 PM

To submit your Fall update:

If you have met the criteria (Completed update, 2.0 GPA, earned minimum 12 units), checks will be mailed to the address specified on your update.

If you did not meet the criteria, you are required to schedule a meeting with your BCS Advisor by January 31, 2021. Please send an email to your CSA (,,, to arrange a meeting.

***No checks will be cut for updates submitted after that deadline, so please make sure to complete your update early.***

Scholarship Opportunities

As an undergraduate student, you can still apply for outside scholarships that can help reduce your educational costs and your overall college debt. Small amounts add up! There are so many kinds of scholarships! Scholarships are often targeted to students in certain majors, from certain ethnic or cultural backgrounds, or with specific hobbies and interests. Here are some tips for a scholarship search:

  1. Start with your financial aid office and your academic department to see what kinds of additional scholarships you may qualify for 
  2. If you/your family belong to a church or community organization, explore whether they offer scholarships
  3. Many scholarships have a GPA requirement of 3.0+
  4. Search UC Berkeley’s Scholarship Connection, an awesome scholarship search site, where you can sort scholarships by year in school, major, citizenship status, etc.
  5. Check out BCS’ Google Spreadsheet of scholarship opportunities. We will continue to update. Please feel free to add scholarship opportunities to the sheet.

Important Reminders

  • If you have a financial crisis, you can apply for the BCS Emergency Fund. Contact your College Success Advisor (CSA) for help completing the application or if you have any questions.
  • Students who have exhausted their funding and wish to apply for a grant to complete an additional term/year of college can apply for the Finish Line Fund. Please contact your CSA for details. 
  • Click HERE for a running list of internship opportunities. Please keep checking back for updates and let us know if you need help with an application.
  • Don’t forget to renew your FAFSA or Dream Act applications to receive financial aid for 2021-2022. The application deadline (in order to be considered for a Cal Grant) is March 2nd.

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