international students

Despite a recent downturn in the number of international students moving to the United States to attend college, the U.S. remains a popular academic destination. But there’s no denying that the cost of an American education is a deterrent to many prospective students. If you’re eager to move to the U.S., but the price of our universities gives you pause, you may want to consider beginning your educational journey at a community college. Also referred to as junior or two-year colleges, these schools are usually much more affordable than a four-year institution, and the requirements to gain admission are minimal. Though you will need to prove your English language skills, and most colleges will ask you to provide proof that you either graduated from high school or earned a GED or High School Equivalency Certificate, you will not be expected to take the SAT or ACT or to have been a stellar student previously. What else should you know about community colleges? We answer some of the most frequently asked questions from international students below:

What kind of student goes to a community college?

All kinds! Though the majority of students attending these colleges are local, estimates put the U.S. international community college population at about 100,000. The most popular campuses for international students are located in California, Florida, Washington, Maryland, Virginia, and Texas, often in or near large cities with sizable immigrant communities. On these campuses, you’ll find a diverse array of nationalities, ethnicities, religions, socio-economic backgrounds, and academic interests. Many students begin their journey at a community college to save money, explore their interests, and build their academic or professional profile.

What can I do after community college?

Some students attend community college in order to earn a certificate or an Associate’s degree, while others are there with the goal of earning enough credits to then transfer to a four-year college or university. Certificates are offered for various trades and specializations in fields like construction, paralegal services, and veterinary assistantship. Associate’s degrees, which typically take two years to earn, include core academic courses in topics like science, humanities, and social studies, as well as a major. These majors can include professional topics (accounting, information technology, graphic design) or the liberal arts (English, biology, psychology). Most students who wish to transfer on to a four-year campus will spend their time at a community college either earning an Associate’s degree or simply amassing general education credits (e.g. science, humanities, social studies) and dipping into courses related to their intended major.

But. . . aren’t community colleges not as good as four-year colleges and universities?

While it’s true that community colleges don’t have the same status as four-year-degree-granting institutions, they are a vital source of education and empowerment for both domestic and international learners. Whether you cannot afford to directly enter a university, you didn’t perform all that well in high school, or you just need extra time to explore your interests or develop your English fluency, community college can be a life-changing (but not bank-breaking) experience.

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Written by Emily Toffelmire
Emily Toffelmire is a member of College Coach’s team of college admissions experts. Prior to joining College Coach, Emily worked as an admissions officer at University of Southern California as well as a college counselor at high schools in the US and Thailand. To learn more about Emily, be sure to read her bio on getintocollege.com.