Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

This content was published: July 16, 2007. Phone numbers, email addresses, and other information may have changed.

After placement test, get in gear by seeking advice

Photos and Story by

Carlos Mercado advising a student

Carlos Mercado, Rock Creek student advisor

Carlos Mercado, 24, knew what he wanted when he came to PCC more than a year ago. The Madras native traveled to the Portland area and enrolled in the Rock Creek Campus’ Auto Collision Repair program, but he didn’t know how to reach that goal.

The first thing he did when he came to PCC was seek out advice. Mercado said sitting down with a PCC academic advisor helped him map a plan to finish college with the degree he wanted.

“The first thing they did was show me what classes I needed,” he said. “They showed me who I needed to talk to and asked what my aim was for the next year. Advising gives students a chance to see where they are at and whether or not they are going down the right path. If the students are new to college, advisors will help set goals and get started in the right way so they don’t lose valuable years. Plus they connect you to faculty and department staff that can help you in your area of interest.”

With that early guidance, Mercado has excelled in the Auto Collision Repair program.

“It’s a great program,” said Mercado, who will transfer to Portland State University to work on his bachelor’s degree once he’s done at PCC. “Eventually I want to open my own shop. I was looking into programs around the area and this was the best in the state. I’ve always been into cars and this is a great program. I’ve really enjoyed it. Overall the teachers in the program are really good and come from some of the best auto body shops around. It has been really fun.”

Mercado may be hard at work finishing his associate’s degree, but he is also involved with mentoring his peers. He works with the multicultural program at the Rock Creek Campus to mentor new students and is a student advisor in the academic advising office at Rock Creek. He cautions new students that once they have filled out their application and taken the placement test, their next step should be sitting down with an academic advisor. PCC uses the COMPASS Placement Tests (untimed and computerized) to gauge a student’s academic strengths.

New students need to fill out and submit an application for admission before taking the college placement test. In short, the test is a series of reading, writing and math exams that lets students and their advisor work together to choose classes that will meet their educational needs. New students who have never attended college, or returning students who need to meet prerequisite requirements by demonstrating current skill levels, should take the placement test.

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, is the Public Relations Manager at Portland Community College. A graduate of Portland State University, James has worked as a section editor for the Newberg Graphic, Wo... more »