Community colleges are public higher education institutions that primarily aim to make educational opportunities affordable and accessible to all. Growing more and more popular are 2+2 programs, where students spend two years at a community college then transfer to a 4-year college/university to finish out their education. It’s a popular way of saving money while getting a quality education.
How are they different from 4-year colleges or universities?
These community colleges differ from 4-year colleges and universities in terms of the tuition fees, the degree they offer, and living facilities.
Fees: Tuition fees at community colleges are much lower than the tuition fees of any 4-year college or university.
Degrees: The highest degree you can earn at a community college is an associate degree. That takes on average about 2 years to complete. This is unlike most 4-year colleges and universities, which award bachelor degrees with many institutions also offering graduate and doctorate degrees.
Living Facilities: Most community colleges do not offer living facilities. They are primarily commuter schools, unlike their counterparts, which are typically residential.
What are the benefits of attending a community college?
The biggest benefit of attending a community college is affordable tuition fees. Attending community college also gives you the advantage of scheduling your classes around your current personal and work commitments so you don’t have to choose one or the other. Other benefits include smaller class sizes and the convenience of being able to commute from home.
What are the different credentials that community colleges offer?
Community colleges typically award associate degrees and postsecondary certificates.
It takes two years of full-time study to earn an associate degree through community college.
Earning a postsecondary certificate could take anywhere from a few months to several years, depending on the field of study and the kind of program offered. Most certificate programs can be completed in less than one year.
What can I do with an associate degree?
There are three main types of associate degrees. You can use the Associate of Science and Associate of Arts degrees as a pathway to obtaining a Bachelor’s degree.
The Applied Science Degree is slightly different in that the programs are focused on a specific occupation. This degree is very useful for anyone who is looking to enter the workforce in a particular field immediately after graduating.
What can I do with a postsecondary certificate earned through community college?
Community colleges offer certificate programs in a variety of academic disciplines. Most of these are focused on specific occupations. Obtaining a postsecondary certificate through a community college can open up more job opportunities with higher salaries in your particular field of study.
Common certificate fields of study include business and office management, construction trades, health care, computer and information services, cosmetology, and auto mechanics.
Do community colleges award bachelor’s degrees?
Most community colleges don’t. There are very few community colleges that award bachelor’s degrees.
Are community colleges residential?
The majority of community colleges are non-residential. According to some reports, the number of community schools with dorms is less than 50. Most students live within traveling distance to the school.
Am I limited to attending a community college in my state only?
Not necessarily. You can enroll in a community college in any state but most students prefer to attend an in-state school because it is more convenient, especially for those who have family or work commitments.
In-state community colleges also work out cheaper because most schools charge out-of-state students higher tuition fees. Besides, when you attend an in-state institution close to home, you can live at home and save on accommodation too.
Those who attend community college in another state typically stay in home-stays, where they pay a fee to stay in a private room of a host family or individual close to the school. This adds to the total cost of college.
Will I get any financial aid at all as a community college student?
Yes, community college students are awarded financial aid depending on need. The lower tuition fees do not automatically make you ineligible to apply. You can apply for federal grants, state aid, federal loans, and institutional aid. Even part-time students are eligible to apply for financial aid.
Do community colleges offer extracurricular activities?
Contrary to the common notion that these institutions focus strictly on academics, most community colleges do in fact offer students a variety of athletic opportunities, student clubs, and assorted organizations to compete against one another and socialize with their peers.
Do community colleges offer career services?
Yes, they do, and because instructors in community college usually have a background in the industry that they are teaching, they give students a real-life perspective in their field of study.
Can I transfer from a community college to a 4-year college or university?
Yes, you can. Most students who cannot afford the tuition of a 4-year college, even with financial aid, then use community college as an affordable pathway to graduating with a bachelor’s degree. They first complete 2 years in community college and get an associate’s degree. They then transfer to a 4-year college or university to complete the next two years and earn a bachelor’s degree. This cuts down their total cost of education substantially.
In most cases, it is fairly easy to transfer from community college to a 4-year college or university. However, there are many factors that can affect the ease of transfer. You must do your homework if you are considering attending community college and then transferring.
What can affect the ease of transfer?
Your state of residence and the educational institutions involved are two of the main factors that affect the ease of transfer. Also, depending on the program you are enrolled in, you may find that you do not meet the eligibility criteria for some 4-year universities.
Your organizational skills will play a big role in how successful you are in transferring. You must research the admission requirements of the college you wish to transfer to and also make sure that the credits you earn at community college will be accepted.
Use College Raptor to discover personalized college matches, cost estimates, acceptance odds, and potential financial aid for schools around the US—for FREE!