Pasadena City College, Home of the PCC Lancers

Getting Help

Get on track by using the resources, tips, and strategies we offer to succeed at your educational, career, and personal goals. Find more information on Counseling Courses, Learning Strategies, Tutoring Hours.

Tips for Success

Attend all classes

  • Arrive on time
  • Do not leave early

Be prepared

  • Read and process text before class; ask questions for clarification
  • Review notes
  • Practice problems, brainstorming, outlines

Sit close to the front

  • Listen actively
  • Take notes
  • Ask questions

Seek assistance

  • Visit instructor during office hours with questions, concerns
  • Get peer tutoring assistance
  • Have a study buddy
  • Go to the learning centers (reading, writing, or math)

Hand in work on time and do not miss exams

  • Have college-level work ready to hand in on due date
  • Do not use excuses to rationalize lack of preparation

Use a calendar, schedule time realistically, and follow course syllabi

  • Write down assignments, tests, projects in your calendar
  • Schedule study time — 2 hours of study for each hour in class
  • Account time for family, social life, work, class, study, and transportation
  • Remember a 15-unit semester load = a full-time job

Based on work of Minnesota Association for Developmental Education copywrite MNACE Executive Committee.

Time Management

Plan time for reading, studying, and preparing for classes. You are expected to be ready for each class before the class begins. No time is given "in class" for study.

A college unit is a measure of time involved in class instruction.

For a 16-week semester:

A three-unit class typically requires three (3) hours of classroom time per week.
 A one-unit (1) lab typically requires three (3) hours and 20 minutes of lab-time per week.

Schedule two (2) hours per unit per week for studying

Example for a 12-unit course load:

In-Class Time = 12 Hours Per Week
Study Time = 24 Hours Per Week (2 Hours Per Unit x 12 Units = 24 Hours)
Total Time = 36 Hours Per Week (That's why 12 units is considered full-time student status.)

Avoid Overloading Your Schedule

Recommended combinations fo managing work and school obligations:

Work School
15 Hours per Week 9 – 12 Units
25 Hours per Week 6 – 9 Units
40 Hours per Week 3 – 6 Units

Tips for Managing Study Time

When to Study

  • Plan two hours of study time for every hour you spend in class.
  • Study difficult subjects first.
  • Avoid scheduling marathon study sessions. Take breaks when needed.
  • Be aware of your best time of day. Experiment studying at different times of the day.
  • Use time between classes, lunch breaks or time waiting for appointments for study.

Where to Study

  • Study in the same place as much as possible. Have a routine!
  • Study in an upright chair. Do not study on a comfortable couch or in bed!
  • You know the best place to study (i.e., library, park, or in your room).
  • Avoid studying with distractions such as TV, radio or phone.
  • Study in a well-lit and orderly room.

How to Study

  • Have others agree not to disturb you while studying.
  • Use computers when needed to assist you with your class work.
  • Use 3x5 index cards as flash cards.
  • Say "NO" to distractions.
  • Hang a "Do Not Disturb" sign on your door.
  • Get ready the night before.

Calculating Your Grade Point Average

Step 1 List courses taken for letter grades, record the letter grades you received, and the course units. Do not list courses recorded as Credit/No Credit, Incomplete, or Withdrawal.

Step 2 For each course, multiply the units by the grade points (A = 4 pts; B = 3 pts; C = 2 pts; D = 1 pts; F = 0 pts). This will give you the total grade points for each course.

Step 3 Add the total number of units you have taken.

Step 4 Add the total grade points.

Step 5 Divide your total grade points by the total units.

Example Grade Card:

Course Grade Units Multiplied by Grade Points Equals Total Grade Points
History 7A B 3 * 3 = 9
English 1A A 4 * 4 = 16
Sociology 1 CR/NC Courses taken Credit/No Credit are not calculated into the GPA.
Math 3 C 3 * 2 = 6
French 2 C 4 * 2 = 8
Biology 1A D 3 * 1 = 3
Music 4B F 3 * 0 = 0
  Total Units: 20 Points     Total Grade Points: 42 points

If Total Grade Points ÷ Total Units = GPA, then 42 ÷ 20 = 2.10

Try an online GPA CALCULATOR.

What is Probation?

Academic Probation: Students placed on academic probation achieved less than a cumulative 2.0 GPA when attempting 12 or more units.

Progress Probation: Students placed on progress probation attempted 12 or more cumulative units and "W", "I" and "NC" units reach or exceed half the cumulative units attempted. Students may be removed from progress probation status when the cumulative number of "W", "I" and "NC" units recorded is less than half the cumulative units attempted.


  • You may be unable to register for classes until a probation workshop is attended
  • Suspension of Financial Aid
  • Limit to 12 units per semester
  • Classes with substandard grades must be repeated
  • Expenses for repeating classes to raise GPA
  • Graduation and/or transfer delays or complications


Students may be dismissed for academic or progress probation for more than two consecutive semesters. Students applying to Pasadena City College who have been dismissed from another college will be processed as if the dismissal occurred at Pasadena City College.

Petition for Reinstatement After Dismissal

A dismissed student may petition for readmission after a lapse of one 16-week semester or more. The student must present positive evidence of a serious intent to succeed and have a realistic academic goal identified. If the petition is granted, the student will be admitted on either academic or progress probation but the student may have enrollment limitations.

How to take action if you are on Academic Probation

Take "Learning Strategies and College Skills Development" (COUNS 11) if...

  • I lacked the study skills to do well in my courses
  • I had poor time management skills
  • My work conflicted with school

Take "Personal Growth and Development" (COUNS 12) if...

  • I was not ready to make a commitment to college
  • I was unmotivated to study
  • I was not interested in the courses

Take "Career Planning" (COUNS 17) or research careers (L-103) if...

  • I was undecided on my career goal

See a counselor (L-104) if...

  • I did not know how to choose my classes
  • I am undecided about my major
  • I do not have an educational plan

Go to Registration (L-113) or see academic calendar if...

  • I missed the drop deadline

See instructor during office hours for help or
Go to Learning Assistance Center (D-300) for tutoring if...

  • I didn't understand the course material

See a counselor or Psych Services (L-108) if...

  • I had personal problems

See Disabled Student Programs & Services (D209) if...

  • I have a learning disability (or think I may have one)

Strategies to Get Off Probation

Here are a few basic strategies a student can use to help themselves off probation.

  • Clean up your transcript!
    Retaking classes with D or F grades is the quickest way to improve your GPA and get off probation. A "C" or higher grade will substitute your previous substandard grade. If you are on progress probation, finish more than 50% of your units each semester to avoid dismissal. If you must, drop classes during the first two weeks of the Spring/Fall semesters so that a "W" is not recorded.
  • Take fewer units!
    Reduce your course unit load to devote more free time to each course, especially if you have work or family obligations. Remember that rushing to fulfill your educational goal may result in having to repeat courses, wasting time and money.
  • Make an Educational Plan.
    See a counselor to make sure you are on track.
  • Take a counseling course.
  • Practice effective learning strategies/study skills.
  • Use campus resources.
    Get tutoring if you are having trouble (Tutoring hours). Talk to your professors. Study at the library if studying at home is too distracting. Find a job on campus if possible.
  • Drop classes before the deadlines.
    Check your schedule after you drop. Do not assume a professor will drop you.
  • Attend a probation workshop!

Visit the Learning Resource Center (LAC) in D-300 for student academic support services and resources such as tutoring and study skills.

The following are links to websites that will assist you to be successful in college.

The information you will find on these sites will help you better understand the science of learning, and teach you how you to utilize this information to improve your decision making, concentration, motivation, and overall learning.

Assess/understand your strengths and weaknesses

There are sites that help you analyze your personal strengths and weaknesses, and provide solutions for problems you may be encountering.

Multiple Intelligence:
Locus of Control:
Self-Motivation Assessment:
Personality Pathways:
Stress Coping Index:
California Career Zone (Cost of Living):

Learning Strategies/Study Skills

Award-winning university websites with specific study skill tips and strategies that will help you learn more effectively and with greater ease.

Brigham Young University:
University of Victoria:
Delta Community College:
Virginia Tech:
University of Central Florida:
Mount San Antonio College

SERVICE ALERT: PCC will be launching an updated version of this website on Tuesday, June 28, and Wednesday, June 29. During that time, you may notice some changes to content, layout, and functionality of the site, and there may be interruptions in service. We appreciate your patience during the launch, and apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.