What You Should Know About This Degree
Designed specifically to serve the areas in which they are located, community colleges offer a variety of educational opportunities to a diverse array of students. They primarily award associate’s degrees, which students can earn as a terminal degree, or use as a stepping stone towards a bachelor’s degree. These institutions are also popular among adult learners who want to earn professional certifications to help them advance their careers.
Other students may attend community college to complete general education coursework before transferring to a four-year institution to earn a bachelor’s degree. For students who are following this path, it is important to confirm that the institution they plan to transfer to will accept the credits they complete at the community college. One way to confirm this is to review the community college’s articulation agreements with four-year institutions. These agreements between schools guarantee that credits will transfer. Even if schools don’t have an articulation agreement, it is likely that other institutions will accept your credits if you attend a regionally accredited community college.
Community colleges are typically the most affordable higher education institutions, but it’s important to note that the lowest tuition rates are typically reserved for in-state students.
Here are some questions to ask when researching community colleges:
- What resources does this school make available to students? While community colleges may not have all the bells and whistles of four-year institutions, they should provide robust resources to support students. This includes libraries, advising, student organizations, student support services, technological resources, and appropriate classroom facilities.
- What are class schedules like? Because community colleges serve a broader range of students, including working adults, classes may be offered on more flexible schedules, including during evenings and weekends. Community colleges have also increasingly been offering online classes, to make their programs more accessible to nontraditional students.
As you research community colleges and programs, keep track of what their admission requirements and application deadlines are. Community colleges typically have more flexible requirements and deadlines than four-year universities, but missing key information or deadlines can affect your ability to start classes when you are ready. If you have questions about the admissions process, contact the admissions department.
Although community colleges are typically the most affordable higher education institutions, it’s still important to consider how you will afford tuition and other costs. Students attending accredited community colleges are usually eligible for federal financial aid, and schools offer support in the form of scholarships, grants, and work-study. If you are a working professional, find out if your employer offers any kind of tuition assistance benefits.