Monday, November 11, 2013

The Road Less Travelled: Community Colleges as a Path to a U.S. Degree

Admit Data: Make Informed Admissions Decisions
By Mirae Kang

Did you know that there are more than a thousand community colleges in the United States? Did you also know that community colleges can be a great way for you to get prepared for academics at a rigorous 4-year college or university?

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The American Association of Community Colleges lists 1,132 community colleges in the U.S. with a total of 13 million international students attending them as of fall 2011. That’s roughly 7% or 910,000 international students choosing to study at a community college in the U.S. overall. The notion that community college courses are of lesser quality than those at 4-year colleges is nothing more than a myth. Today, many international students are purposely choosing to enroll in community college courses. It’s not true that community education is less valuable than at a four year school. Community colleges are a great way to improve English, adapt to a new educational system, and save a lot of money over time.

So what does this all mean for you?

Academic Preparation

Are you an international student wanting to study abroad in the U.S., but feel the need for more preparation in English communications without the strenuous academic rigor? Then, consider taking Intensive English Programs or community college courses. For example, international students who successfully complete prerequisite courses at De Anza Community College in California are able to transfer directly into seven University of California schools through the UC TAG (Transfer Admission Guarantee) Program. Programs like these exist all over the U.S., so make sure to do your research! However, make sure you take into consideration the location of where you want to start studying. If your dream is to study in New York City, then consider attending a community college nearby - thus, helping you open up more networks and opportunities.

Financial Consideration

Attending a 4-year institution for all four years can be an expensive investment. Instead, community colleges can be a cost effective solution for students on tighter budgets. By completing your prerequisite courses for two years at a community college and then transferring to complete a bachelor’s degree at a four-year institution, students can often save thousands of dollars. However, to receive a student visa from the U.S. government, you will have to prove that you have enough available finances for the time you plan to be here. So, make sure you secure any loans, scholarships, or family funds early on in the process!

In fact, there are many different routes to obtaining a bachelor’s degree in the United States. Whether you may be feeling academically unprepared or under tight financial obligations, you can still receive a high quality education in the U.S. Just make sure you understand your options.


Mirae Kang is a Research Associate of the Research and Advisory Services team for World Education Services in New York. She manages WES Student Advisor, an initiative to help prospective international students find free and reliable information about studying abroad in the U.S. She helps organizes free monthly webinars, connecting international students to admissions officers. When not helping students, she likes to cross oceans and relax with a great fiction novel.

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