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What are com­mu­nity col­leges in the US? What cour­ses are avail­able and how much do they cost? DIK­SHA, VIA EMAIL Peo­ple of­ten think that com­mu­nity col­leges are for can­di­dates who are un­able to get into univer­sity. How­ever, given the flex­i­bil­ity, af­ford­abil­ity and diver­sity th­ese in­sti­tu­tions of­fer, study­ing at a com­mu­nity col­lege can be a wise de­ci­sion.

Com­mu­nity col­leges, also re­ferred to as ju­nior col­leges, of­fer two-year as­so­ci­ate de­gree pro­grammes. Stu­dents en­rol to earn the as­so­ci­ate de­gree and then take up a vo­ca­tion or, as is the case with most in­ter­na­tional stu­dents, progress to a univer­sity to earn their bach­e­lor’s de­gree through a 2+2 pro­gramme.

Most com­mu­nity col­leges have ar­tic­u­lated agree­ments with prom­i­nent uni­ver­si­ties in the re­gion and func­tion as feeder col­leges to th­ese uni­ver­si­ties. For in­stance, Diablo Val­ley Col­lege in Cal­i­for­nia is one of the top feeder col­leges to UC Berke­ley.

The cost of at­tend­ing a com­mu­nity col­lege is usu­ally a frac­tion of what you would pay at a univer­sity. Stu­dents who as­pire to at­tain a global ed­u­ca­tion in another coun­try at an af­ford­able cost can look at this as a very vi­able op­tion.

The smaller class­room sizes at com­mu­nity col­leges al­low for per­son­alised in­ter­ac­tion with your teach­ers com­pared to large uni­ver­si­ties. The smaller learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment pro­motes bet­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween the fac­ulty and stu­dents. Also, in­struc­tors are fo­cused on teach­ing and stu­dent de­vel­op­ment as op­posed to the fac­ulty at big re­search uni­ver­si­ties where they have to di­vide their time be­tween teach­ing and re­search.

The trans­fer from col­lege to univer­sity is usu­ally seam­less and stu­dents of­ten re­ceive plenty of sup­port from their aca­demic coun­sel­lors along the way.

It’s im­por­tant to re­alise that not all com­mu­nity col­leges of­fer the same ben­e­fits so it is es­sen­tial to choose care­fully. There are over 1,500 com­mu­nity col­leges in the US, so you will have to put a lot of thought into the process of se­lect­ing one.

One of the first things to do is make sure that the col­lege is ac­cred­ited. Also, you will have to check which uni­ver­si­ties it is af­fil­i­ated with and the suc­cess rate of the col­lege in trans­fer­ring stu­dents to those uni­ver­si­ties. This will also help you to chart your long-term study plans, as you can set a tar­get for where you would like to com­plete your bach­e­lor’s.

Check en­try re­quire­ments and find one that matches your pro­file.

While com­mu­nity col­leges gen­er­ally have lower en­try pre­req­ui­sites in terms of GPA and English pro­fi­ciency, the re­quire­ments vary and, as is the case at uni­ver­si­ties, you will have to re­view all the in­for­ma­tion thor­oughly to find the right fit for you.

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