The United States offers many types of post-secondary education. One type to note, once unique to the United States but becoming known and established in other countries, is the community college. Community colleges, sometimes called junior colleges, are two-year schools that provide affordable post-secondary education as a pathway to a four-year degree.
According to the American Association of Community Colleges, 1,167 community colleges in the United States enroll more than 12.4 million students and serve almost half of all undergraduate students in the United States. Many of these community colleges are Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified,and all have nationally-recognized accreditation. These community colleges offer a wide variety of options to post-secondary students:
Open access to postsecondary education
Preparation for transfer to four-year college or university
Workforce development and skills training
A range of noncredit programs, such as English as a second language, skills retraining, community enrichment programs and cultural activities
US community colleges offer many benefits to international students who are beginning their university degree in America. Community colleges offers 2+2 university transfer programs that allow students to transfer their credits earned in the first 2 years of their degree to universities across the US. This system enables students to earn a bachelor's degree with 2 years in a community college followed by 2 years at a university of their choice.
Students who complete the first 2 years of their bachelor's degree at community colleges usually earn an Associate of Science (AS) or Associate of Arts (AA) degree. In addition to the Associate Degree, community colleges also offer technical or career programs to prepare students for the employment. These programs can last between 6 months to 2 years and students usually earn a Certificate of Associate Degree upon completion. Some community colleges offer 4-year Bachelor degree programs.
Community colleges often have guaranteed transfer agreements with US university partners where students can opt for a conditional offer from these partner universities during their admission to a community college.
Community Colleges offer many benefits to international students:
Small class size - classes at community colleges usually have between 20 to 25 students and the supportive learning environment provide opportunity for international students to adjust to the pace of of U.S. academic life
Cheaper tuition - students can complete their general education and major preparation classes in the first 2 years of their degree at a lower cost compared to 4-year university
Like 4-year universities, community colleges offering a range of services including academic advising, free tutoring, English language classes, transfer planning as well as various clubs and societies to enable students succeed in their studies in America.