There are various financial, social, and practical reasons for attending a community college before heading to a traditional university. With the quality of education mirroring a four-year institution, a community college is a perfect starting point if you plan to eventually earn a Bachelor's degree. Here are just a few reasons why.
Since tuition is usually one of the biggest concerns, many students choose a community college over a four-year institution. At a community college, you can earn an Associate's degree and pay lower tuition costs. Then you can transfer to a university to complete the two additional years needed for your Bachelor's degree. Regardless of your program/major of choice, you'll need to take general education requirements anyway, so why not take them at a fraction of the cost and then transfer once those are complete?
As an international student, you're sometimes charged a higher tuition rate than other students; however, the tuition at a community college is much less than tuition at a four-year college or university in general. So if you're looking to save money but still study abroad, starting at a community college might be an excellent option for you.
Same general education
Since the first two years of study are filled with introductory courses from core subjects (general education courses), it's a great idea to knock these classes out at a community college first at a much lower cost. You'll also receive an Associate's degree once you graduate from a community college, which is just one more credential to add to your resume! Once you've completed your general education requirements, you can transfer to a university to complete your last two years in your area of focus.
Flexible admissions requirements
Some colleges are highly competitive at the freshman admissions level, but not as competitive for transfer admissions. Meaning, to get into a traditional four-year college or university, a prospective freshman might compete with tons of other students; however, if an international student applies as a transfer student, their chances of getting into a four-year institution might be better. Many universities also have partnerships with community colleges, allowing graduates conditional admission into the university program of their choice if they meet all other admissions requirements. Since every community college is different, partnerships will vary; be sure to check with the community college you're interested in first to see what agreements or partnerships exist.
Another benefit is that community colleges are open-access institutions, meaning that they admit every student who wants to enroll, which is an immense amount of pressure removed from your shoulders.
Smaller class sizes
If a more intimate approach to learning is what you’re drawn to, then starting off at a community college is a good idea. The average community college class size is 25-35 students. In contrast, some introductory-level courses at universities are in lecture halls with 150-300 or more students in a class and can be taught by teaching assistants or graduate students instead of taught by professors as you’d find at community colleges.
Community colleges have made so many positive strides for international students, so you have more higher education options than ever before. They're affordable, with easy-to-navigate campuses, and they're becoming the institutions of choice for many international students today.
If you're looking for more ways community colleges might be the right option for you, watch this video with Nand Javia. Nand is an international student who started his studies abroad at Orange Coast Community College and transferred to Texas Christian University.