A community college in the US is a two-year public institution of higher education. Of late, community colleges have become a major draw for international students – for starters, they are easier to get into!
It can be quite daunting to land in a foreign country as a student. The two-year community college experience helps you to get adjusted to life in the States, and savour and explore the various offerings via education, sport, culture etc...
There are several reasons why international students may choose to attend a US community college. Most importantly, it is well-known that community colleges are definitely cost effective - it is practically half the yearly tuition fee of a public four-year college. Other than this financial benefit, there are several other advantages, which make considering a community college worth the effort.
If you are unable to meet the entrance requirements of a four-year college or university on your first attempt, a community college gives you the opportunity to enter into the University of your Choice without wasting a season till your next attempt. In such a scenario, the community college helps you improve your point grade average, and helps you to gain two years of education in the process. At the end of the two-year tenure, you will have enhanced your academic record by earning an associate’s degree and additional certificate/ diploma qualifications - this enables you to transfer to a four-year college of your choice and pursue a bachelor’s degree.
Not only do community colleges have open enrolment policies for recruiting many applicants, but they also collaborate with neighbouring four-year colleges that guarantee admission to community graduates.
Small class sizes ensure that personalized attention is provided to each student, identifying his weaknesses and strengths, and providing extra support where necessary. Group discussion and interaction, and getting to know your fellow classmates are bonuses. Active participation and hands-on learning are encouraged. With usually less than 50 students in a class, it makes it possible for the professor to actually give undivided attention and facilitate healthy curiosity about the subject.
To take full advantage of the community college experience, you can earn extra credentials and certificates, and make maximum use of co-ops, internships and other valuable experiences that will give you field work exposure. Generally, community colleges also maintain fruitful relationships with local businesses, ensuring that their students can work with these companies during the tenure of their course.
International students who need to improve their English proficiency scores can enrol in one of the intensive English programmes offered by a community college - an English proficiency programme strengthens language skills, preparing one for application to a four-year college of choice.
There are certain drawbacks of studying at a community college. The college may not be accredited or recognized at times – so you need to be careful about which two-year college you are choosing. Most community colleges do not offer accommodation on campus and also; do not offer the range of courses and majors that a four-year College/ University does. When compared to a University, a community college has lesser resources, and transferring credit hours to a University may be difficult in certain circumstances.
A community college helps you in various ways, and it’s up to you to separate the wheat from the chaff and make the best use of opportunities provided.