Benefits of a Community College
Normally, colleges and universities are interchangeable words. Community colleges on the other hand are specifically open enrollment institutes of higher education, with mostly two-year-long programs that can earn students an Associate’s Degree. Open enrollment means that they require a high school degree to attend, which we’ll further address in the article. An Associate’s Degree is an undergraduate degree above a high school diploma and below a Bachelor’s Degree.
Community colleges are mostly a US thing, but UK, Canada, and Australia have their own versions. They’re a great way for setting the new standard educational expectations and general knowledge after gathering students from many different backgrounds, age groups, countries, and educational systems. We’ll be going through the top 6 benefits of attending a community college in this article.
A big reason that prevents a lot of international students from considering studying aboard is price, and the US is definitely one of the more costlier places for countries such as Indonesia, where the currency discrepancy is pretty high.
For those who consider price a major decision-informing factor, it is important to note that going to a community college is the significantly cheaper option. The tuition for community college is cheaper than the tuition for four-year universities, for both private and public schools, by a long shot and by thousands of dollars. While international students still pay more than domestic students, there’s still a big financial difference between the two institutions.
2. Smaller Classes
Community college class sizes are a lot smaller. Students have access to more hands-on support, helpful resources, and personalized feedback. They can benefit from one-on-one teaching styles and free tutoring services on campus. With less students to focus on, instructors and staff are able to direct more of their time and attention to helping each individual.
Where English can be a struggle for international students, community college serves as a training ground where they tend to do better and feel more comfortable in smaller classes with less competition and pressure to do better than their peers. Since international students come from different educational backgrounds, the general education classes you’d typically take as a freshman and sophomore will also help you adjust to the system and culture.
3. Admission Requirements
Most community colleges’ only admission requirement is that a student graduates high school. This comes with many exceptions, such as with the IGCSE/O-Level system. Some international schools awards students with a certificate instead of a diploma, showing that they’ve completed half their high school classes. Completing their studies up to the 12th Grade would earn them an A-Level certificate, otherwise known as a high school diploma. While some universities in the US accept O-Level certificates as a form of high school completion, most universities don’t. However, community colleges always do.
Some community colleges also offer high school completion programs or dual enrollment programs. This allows high school students to take high school courses as a college credit at the college campus so that they can work towards their high school diploma at the same time as their Associate’s Degree. This works for both domestic high school students looking to get ahead in their college plans or for international students looking for a cost-and-time-efficient way to get to college. In fact, some community college even offer four-year programs where you can get your Bachelor’s Degree.
Regardless, community colleges definitely have an easier application process. However, you will have to prove that your English proficiency is good enough to keep up with the college courses – this is where tests such as TOEFL and IELTS come in. There might also be placement exams in other subjects such as Math that students need to take, as some high schools are more advanced than others in terms of how much of that subject they taught you in your country.
4. Transferring into a University
There are transfer programs where you can attend a community college for your first two years and finish your last two years at another university. Where you decide to enroll for your education could be different from where you end up graduating. You’ll need to talk to your advisers to pick the right classes that will be transferable to your desired universities, so you won’t have to retake them the following years.
Many community colleges have agreements with public universities on how many transfer students they’re required to admit from these community colleges within the same state, the same way universities have yearly quotas on how many students from each country they need to admit for reach major. This is why it’s easier to get into top universities knowing which majors are less popular within your country.
It’s no guarantee that students get in through these reserved transfer spots though, as it may still vary from school to school, depending on the level of competition and the number of available spaces in the class. Transferring into highly selective, top-ranked universities might be especially difficult, since if they accept more freshmen, they will then have fewer openings for transfers. Still, it’s another opportunity to reapply if you didn’t get in the first time but want another shot at your dream university as a transfer student.
5. An Academic Boost
For transfer students, the top two factors considered in admissions decisions are your community college GPA and average grades in transferable courses. They don’t emphasize as much on your high school grades or SAT/ACT scores.
If you didn’t do as well as you would like in high school, this would be your chance to boost your grades and major-related activities. Really show that university your interest and initiative in your intended major by taking relevant classes, joining related clubs, doing community service, and more. A community college is an opportunity to get extra academic guidance and support. Community college faculty prioritize teaching, not research. Make use to their support services, such as mentoring programs and organized study groups.
When you reapply to colleges that previously denied you, make sure you revise your application. Focus on how you have improved as a person, a student, and a leader. Mention new achievements, all your recent involvements, and definitely rewriting your personal statements. This is also your chance to get to know your professors so they can write detailed recommendation letters for your transfer application. All of this support can give you the credentials you need to transfer into a four-year university.
6. A More Informed Decision
After experiencing two years in the US, transfer students tend to know more about what type of university they want to attend than freshman students. Since the classes you’ll be taking in your first two years are general knowledge classes that are less specific to your major, it gives you time to think about and finalize your major if you haven’t already. Community college is a great way to explore other majors and activities as well before setting your major in stone.
Picking majors and choosing universities are big decisions, especially if you’re aiming for top institutions in the US. Think about your career goals, dreams, and aspirations before committing to a decision. Do proper research on your intended major, any possible minors, and potential universities. You can then determine the path that makes the most sense for you and your future.