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First-Year Experience

Student Success InitiativesImage
Student Success Initiatives Image

Welcome New Students!

Welcome and congratulations on your selection of South Mountain Community College! We are excited that you have chosen to begin your college career here.

We are here to support you in your educational goal, whether it’s to earn a degree or transfer to a four-year university. Are you a future U of A Wildcat? An ASU Sun Devil? An NAU Lumberjack? The sky is the limit!

As a new student at SMCC, you are bound to have questions. Student Success Initiatives (SSI), New Student Orientation, is designed around you—answering the questions you have, and providing you information about campus resources, programs, and services.

By the time you finish this orientation, you’ll be on the path to success, and will feel confident navigating South Mountain Community College.

What can you expect to learn about at Student Success Initiatives, New Student Orientation?

  • College life
  • Tutoring
  • Clubs and organizations
  • Faculty expectations
  • Financial aid and financial literacy
  • The Student Enrollment Services (SES) office
  • Student support programs and services
  • Academic planning
  • Online tools
  • And many other campus resources!

In addition, you’ll get tips from the faculty, staff and students who’ll be your guides during your time at SMCC.  The Cougar Orientation Leaders will be at your session, and will lead your campus tour. As fellow students, they can answer your questions about life on campus. Come with all your questions, and learn what it means to be a South Mountain Community College Cougar!

The First-Year Experience department also provides you with a chance to meet other new students.  Come ready to meet new people and make new friends. We look forward to meeting you!

How do you register for Student Success Initiatives, First-Year Experience Orientation?

To register, follow the steps below. Download the Student Success Initiatives Program Information checksheet. You can log into your Student Center at to determine which items you still need to complete—they will appear in your “To Do” list. 

  1. Admission: Make sure you are admitted to South Mountain Community College for the appropriate semester. Visit the SMCC Admissions, Registration and Records Office in the Student Enrollment Services (SES) Building to complete your Student Information Form—your college application.
  2. Student Declaration: To qualify for in-state tuition and state-funded financial assistance, you must provide proof of lawful presence in the United States—your Student Declaration. This can also be completed at Admissions, Registration and Records.
  3. Financial Aid: How are you going to pay for college? The SMCC Financial Aid Office provides financial assistance to eligible students from federal, state, institutional, and private funding sources. To get any of these, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which becomes available every January. Completing it early is best! Visit to complete your Financial Aid application. Once you’ve determined how much college will cost, we offer a convenient online payment system. Students who use this payment option may pay over time, through installments over several months. You can also pay online in full as soon you’ve registered.
  4. Determine placement: SMCC requires all first-time degree and/or transfer-seeking students to determine their placement in reading, writing, and mathematics prior to orientation. SMCC utilizes two processes to determine college course placement for students: high school transcripts and/or placement tests. Contact the testing center for testing dates and times. You can also take a copy of your unofficial high school transcript to the testing center for processing. You will not be able to register for reading, writing, and mathematics courses without placement.

An SMCC Academic Advisor will review your program of study and courses you are eligible to take in your first semester…refer you to other enrollment services, if needed…and register you for your Student Success Initiatives, First-Year Experience Orientation session.

Where do you go to participate in Student Success Initiatives, First-Year Experience Orientation?

All First-Year Experience Orientation sessions take place in the iConnect lab, located in the Student Enrollment Services building, Room 105.

Check-in for your session will begin a half-hour before your session start time, and takes place in the Student Enrollment Services Welcome Center.  Cougar Orientation Leaders, along with other staff, will be there to assist you.

Be sure to arrive with enough time to complete check-in before your session begins.

How long should you expect to be at First-Year Experience Orientation?

The Student Success Initiatives, First-Year Experience Orientation program lasts approximately 3.5 hours.

During the last hour of the session, you will self-enroll in your first semester courses. It may take longer; it’s like fitting together the pieces of a puzzle.

You will need to see which courses are available, which courses you need your first semester, and what works best with your schedule.

Please be prepared to be present for the entire session and make your travel arrangements accordingly!

Here’s a sample program agenda for Student Success Initiatives, First-Year Experience Orientation:

  • Check-in & Welcome
  • Introductions
  • Welcome Video from the College President and Vice President of Student Affairs
  • Faculty Expectations
  • Financial Aid/Financial Literacy
  • Overview of Student Enrollment Services
  • Campus Tour
  • Student Code of Conduct & Student Rights and Responsibilities
  • Arizona General Education Curriculum
  • Placement Testing Overview
  • Strengths and AAA115/CPD150
  • & Your Student Center
  • Self-Enrollment

What does a typical first-semester schedule look like for a new student seeking to earn a degree or transfer to a university?

A first-time, full-time college student will enroll in English, mathematics, and reading courses, based on placement test scores, and possibly 1-2 additional courses that meet the Arizona General Education Curriculum (AGEC) requirements. These can be found here:

The student will also enroll in a College Success Course (AAA115 or CPD150).

What is AAA115/CPD150?

We require all new students to take AAA115 or CPD150 in their first semester.

What skills and behaviors will you need to be successful in college? AAA115 and CPD150 will show you!

AAA115 is SMCC’s one-credit College Success Course, and CPD150 is a three-credit course. They will get you ready to meet the academic challenges ahead, through increased self-awareness and self-management. You will also learn how to access the college resources that will help you succeed at SMCC.

You will also have the opportunity to discover, develop, and apply your own unique strengths!

Got Strengths?

Do what you do best every day! AAA115 and CPD150 incorporate the Clifton Strengths Finder and the StrengthsQuest program, which will help you identify your own personal strengths, and ways to maximize them in pursuit of your academic, professional and personal goals.

AAA115 and CPD150 will help you become more engaged, productive, and successful. The StrengthsQuest program will help you…

  • Succeed in the classroom.
  • Improve your physical wellbeing and reduce absences.
  • Get involved and focused on college life.
  • Improve and deepen relationships with others.
  • Provide guidance and ideas for your career.