Community colleges have played a crucial role in ensuring many US citizens have access to higher education, and this includes working adults. Currently, the US has around 1,462 community colleges across the country. 

Community colleges are also known to offer less traditional degrees through their two-year programs usually leading to an Associate of Arts (AA) or Associate Degrees (AS), and technical and vocational programs. Also, some have also begun offering bachelor’s degrees, although rare. In many cases, students usually take a two-year course in their community college and then transfer to another college or university to finish a four-year degree. 

Aside from the length of programs it offers, what other factors differentiate a community college from other US educational institutions. 

Cost

Four-year institutions’ tuition fees and other expenses are much more expensive. In 2019, tuition fees for four-year institutions will cost around $9,716 in public colleges to $35,676 in private colleges. On the other hand, community colleges only charge around $3,660 per year. 

Flexibility 

Community colleges offer flexibility to their students. This is to ensure all people coming from different situations and all walks of life can access education. In fact, community colleges also offer night and weekend classes, and online classes to welcome those unable to work during the day or weekdays, or who cannot leave their homes, due to work or family responsibilities. Four-year institutions, on the other hand, do not offer much flexibility, the way community colleges do.

Class Size

Community colleges have a smaller population and class size compared to four-year institutions. Not only is it easier to make friends with most of your classmates, but a smaller-sized class can make it easier to discuss and for students to ask more questions to their professors. 

Campus Life

Four-year institutions have more to offer when it comes to campus life, compared to community colleges. Not only because of the population of a four-year institution but also because of the facilities and clubs you can find in them, which most community colleges don’t invest in. That is also one reason why community colleges are affordable.  

However, in recent years, some community colleges are starting to invest in facilities such as student centers, campus dining, and so on. Also, US President Joe Biden has recently announced an infrastructure plan to improve community colleges

Housing 

In most universities, students live inside the campus through dormitories. On the other hand, dorms are rare in community colleges and students usually live off-campus and may always have to commute to their college. In many cases, international students who opted to study in a community college either stay with a host family or in a rented apartment, close to their college. 

Financial Aid

Financial aid is not limited to only four-year courses, in fact, community colleges have them as well. However, international students are not eligible for federal loans, so a good way to get is through applying for scholarships from various non-government organizations, specific for them. 

Studying abroad can be both exciting and scary for students, especially when it comes to experiencing another culture. Read MSM Unify’s article on Best Ways to Cope with Culture Shock to lessen your fear of studying abroad. 

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