U.S. community colleges are the “Gateway to Higher Education in the United States” for international students. They provide the first two years of post-secondary education (undergraduate courses) leading to an associate degree. Students with associate degrees can transfer their course credits to a 4-year college or university where they can complete years 3 and 4 to obtain a bachelor’s degree. Most U.S. community colleges have have articulation agreements with 4-year institutions to facilitate the transfer of course credits. This ability to transfer is often called “2+2”, in reference to the two years students spend at each institution.
There are close to 1,200 regionally accredited community colleges located throughout the United States, serving more than 13 million students.
U.S. community colleges, four-year colleges, and major universities are all accredited by the same regional accrediting agencies throughout the United States. Community college programs must meet the same stringent criteria as four-year colleges and universities to attain accreditation status. This is the reason why universities will accept course credits obtained at community colleges.
Each year the largest percentage of international students seeking undergraduate education in the U.S. enroll at U.S. community colleges. See the The Top 10 Benefits of Attending a U.S. Community College.
Community colleges, like other educational institutions in the United States, differ widely. Some are large, multi-campus institutions located in big cities, while others are much smaller schools located in rural settings and serving smaller student populations. Housing opportunities at community colleges range from living in campus dormitories or nearby apartments, to renting rooms or arranging home stays with host families.
International students thinking of studying in the U.S. may choose an institution based on its prestige or the caliber of its alumni. For them, it is important to know that many distinguished leaders and notable persons began their postsecondary education at a U.S. community college. To learn about our notable alumni click on http://www.aacc.nche.edu/AboutCC/alumni/Pages/default.aspx.
Community colleges provide international students with an opportunity to begin their U.S. higher education experience at a high quality, regionally accredited institution with an affordable tuition, an efficient system of articulation, a supportive learning environment with opportunities to build and enhance English skills, and the chance to connect with U.S. community and culture.