International education in the US is not limited to only universities and getting bachelor’s, master’s, or Ph.D. degrees. In fact, the US has various types of higher educational institutions (HEIs) for both its domestic students and international students including colleges, universities, technical schools, and community colleges. Because of this, it is just normal that many international students may have a lot of questions about community colleges. 

In this article, we will discuss community colleges, which, according to Statista, numbered 942 in 2020. 

To help international students learn more about community colleges? Here are some common questions and their answers, to help international students understand them more. 

What is a Community College? 

First off, a community college is an educational institution that provides higher education to both domestic and international students. A community college distinguishes itself among other HEIs by offering two-year programs, at a reasonable price. These two-year programs are usually a prerequisite to an employment opportunity, or in furthering one’s education to complete a bachelor’s degree. 

Originally, community colleges are geared towards their local students in their immediate community. However, in recent years, community colleges have also extended their services to international students. In fact, according to Open Doors, in 2018, around 10% of international students in the US are enrolled in community colleges. 

What types of credentials can I get from a community college? 

Community colleges offer associate degrees and postsecondary certificates to their students which are essential for pursuing further education, or employment opportunities. An associate degree normally takes two years to finish, while a certificate degree may only take a few months to several years, depending on the program. Both types of credentials are also highly focused on their own specific fields. 

Also, albeit being rare, some community colleges also offer bachelor’s degree programs in varying degrees. 

Are there financial aids available in community colleges? 

Despite being more affordable than universities and other institutions with four-year programs, some community colleges do offer financial aid to international students.  International students can usually access financial aid by directly asking the institution of their choice, or by going through non-government organizations. Just keep in mind that these types of scholarships can be program-specific, institution-specific, or country-specific. 

What are the requirements for getting into a community college? 

Another feature that is common in many community colleges is its open admission policies. This means that usually, students don’t have to fulfill any academic requirements to get into one. However, as international students, the rules can be a bit different.  Some requirements that international students may be asked for are the following: 

  1. Transcript records and grades 
  2. Proof of English proficiency (scores and type of english test may vary depending on the institution, some may ask for a TOEFL or an IELTS)
  3. Application fee 
  4. Application form
  5. Copy of your passport

What can you get from attending a community college? 

Studying in a community college is more affordable than studying for a four-year bachelor’s program, or university. Aside from that, it offers flexible education, the opportunity to finish your study fast, and the chance to get high-salary jobs, especially in programs related to computers and IT.

Are there extracurricular activities in a community college? 

Yes, there are a lot of extracurricular activities you can do in community colleges. The popular belief is that community colleges have limited opportunities when it comes to having a social life with other students outside class. However, many community colleges actually offer a lot of student organizations and clubs, including sports organizations. Plus, more and more community colleges are building facilities that students can use to encourage student life inside the colleges. 

Do you have more questions about community colleges and other educational institutions in the US? Check out MSM Unify articles about US education to learn more. 

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