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Getting the Full College Experience

Many prospective college students say they want the “college experience,” but what does that really mean? Is it making lifelong friends? Trying something new that takes you out of your comfort zone? Holding a leadership position? Attending athletic events? Landing that dream internship?

Guess what? You don’t have to attend a four-year university to have those experiences. Anne Arundel Community College offers opportunities to have the college experience that matters to you.


College is an exciting time to make friends and meet new people. At AACC, the opportunities to connect with others start at orientation and continue at events throughout the year. If you’d rather meet people based on a common interest, one of AACC’s 46 clubs could be for you.

Meeting people in class is always a great way to connect with new friends. Thanks to AACC’s small class sizes, you won’t get lost in the lecture hall. In fact, the average class size in fall 2023 was just 18 students.

“Some of my best experiences have been meeting other students in such a diverse setting. And I feel like my best experiences have been with people who are unlike me, and they've been able to show me new things.”- Ariana Broadnax, health sciences transfer student

“I really enjoyed the one-on-one time that I got with my peers and my professors. I formed relationships here at AACC and I’m still friends with these people and even the professors.”Emily Crymes, visual design (web and graphic) alumna


Another common experience is the chance to take on leadership roles and make a difference in your college community. AACC offers an annual leadership conference for students of all abilities to learn leadership basics. The two-day conference features a guest speaker from outside the college as well as faculty experts.

Students can put those lessons into action by partaking in the leadership challenge, which is a yearlong project with workshops, individualized coaching and support for developing leaders.

“Students build concrete connections with others by going through the Leadership Challenge together,” said Lea Brisbane, M.A., LGPC, leadership and involvement specialist in the Office of Student Engagement.

"The Riverhawks Rise Leadership conference was one of my first professional development opportunities I had at AACC. The skills I developed, lessons I learned and connections I made at the conference really helped launch me into success in the leadership roles I was in at the time and continue to serve in today.”- Zack Buster, communications student, Student Government Association president, former editor-in-chief of the Campus Current


Last year, the women’s lacrosse team won the NJCAA championship. This year, all athletics moved to DII. Attending a sporting event can create great memories and is a way to show your Riverhawk spirit. You also can be where the action is and join one of the 11 sports teams!

However, if the stage calls your name, join one of AACC’s many performing arts groups in dance, music, opera or theatre. Students also get discounted tickets to most shows. This spring, Theatre AACC will put on “Little Shop of Horrors.”

“I've gotten a more rounded view of the community college experience because I'm involved in quite a few things at the school. ... I did not expect it to be so tightknit with so many opportunities and resources.”- Leila Townsend, transfer studies student, women’s basketball player, Student Government Association vice president of outreach and engagement

"I like the camaraderie that develops among cast and crew. Everybody's focused, for an intense, short period of time, a few months with one goal, just getting it on stage and entertaining an audience.”- Martin Egna, transfer studies student, playing Mushnik in “Little Shop of Horrors”


Sometimes the best learning comes from experience. That could be through a service-learning project, an internship, research or a special event, like Student Advocacy Day.

An on-campus job or internship makes it easy to get to know the college while also getting hands-on experience and making industry connections.

If there’s a specific topic that excites you, AACC offers research opportunities through the Research-Intensive Summer Experience (RISE), research classes and the Journal of Emerging Scholarship.

If you don’t have time for a long-term commitment, there are still plenty of short-term opportunities as well. Student Advocacy Day gives community college students a chance to lobby in Annapolis to promote continued legislative support of community colleges.

“Getting the (CADE) gallery assistant position allowed me to get more involved into the curriculum at AACC, helped me get involved in the activities and things that were happening. ... Lindsey McCullough, who was the gallery director at the time ... is directly responsible for the career path that I have today.”Landon Hood, game art alumnus

“(Research) will change your life in such a positive way. You’ll be able to get experience here that is impossible to get anywhere else. These opportunities do not happen a lot, so take it while you can.”– Maggie Nester, transfer studies alumna, published in the 2023 Journal of Emerging Scholarship

"Even if it was just for a few hours, participating in Advocacy Day made me feel like I was making a tangible impact.”– Sydney Klabnik, psychology alumna, 2022 Advocacy Day participant

Whether you attend a big four-year university, a small private institution or AACC, the “college experience” is what you make it. Many students value AACC’s flexible options to balance school with the rest of their lives, but if you want to get involved outside of class, there are plenty of opportunities that will make your college years even more memorable.


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