The United States offers many different options for postsecondary education. A unique option that is becoming increasingly popular is community college (also known as “junior college”). Community colleges are two-year schools that provide affordable education as a pathway to a four-year degree.
According to the American Association of Community Colleges, community colleges serve almost half of undergraduate students in the United States. Some of the benefits to community college include:
- Affordability: Attending a community college before completing your bachelor’s degree at a four-year institution can save you a sizable amount of money. Tuition and fees at public community colleges average less than half of those at public four-year colleges and almost one-tenth of those at private four-year colleges
- Preparation to transfer to a four-year college or university: Because community colleges are nationally recognized, it is easy to transfer to a college or university
- Flexible English Requirements: Community colleges offer excellent Intensive English Programs (IEPs) and English as a second language courses (ESLs). Therefore, they may accept lower scores on English proficiency tests, or may even waive English proficiency requirements altogether.
- Small Classes: Small class sizes at community colleges provide a learning environment in which you can easily ask questions. The small ratio of students to professors makes it easy to establish relationships with your instructors. Small classes are especially beneficial for international students because they make it easier for you to adjust to U.S. academics and they give you additional opportunities to practice your English language skills.
- Use of Technology: Many community colleges provide technical or vocational training for international students.
- A range of noncredit programs, such as English as a second language, skills retraining, community enrichment programs and cultural activities
With the opportunity for smaller class sizes and individualized attention, getting a two-year degree before going to a university may be a more realistic goal for you. Regardless of what you are planning for your future, community college can be a great place to start!