International Student Guide to the United States of America
Guía Estudiantes Internacionales en los Estados Unidos de América
Community and Junior Colleges in the US
American Higher Education

Community College and ESL Programs for International Students

What is a Community College?

The most practical way to describe a community college is to say that it is an institution of higher education that offers both technical and general education associate degrees and typically offers a host of certification programs and specialty training programs.  Contrary to old notions about community colleges being no more than a glorified vocational school, community colleges offer accessible, affordable, high quality education that fulfills a growing demand for higher education attainment.  Included in their academic offerings, community colleges typically offer a variety of programs to meet a diversity of student demands.  In short, students have options at a community college that would fulfill their needs for specific career training or their need for general courses to be used toward attaining a bachelor’s degree or higher. 

What is the major difference between a community college and a university?
The major difference is the type of degree offered.  As mentioned, community colleges offer a two-year associate degree whereas a university typically offers degrees at the baccalaureate and graduate levels.  Another, often cited difference, is price.  On average, community colleges pose a more economical means of attaining education than does a university.  In some cases, universities charge two and even three times the tuition that community colleges charge.

Can I go to a community college if I want a bachelor’s degree?
YES!  More and more students are realizing that beginning their education at a community college is a sensible decision even if they want to attain a degree higher than the associate level.  This might lead to the next question, “Are students who start at a community college as successful as those who started at the university?”  Again, yes!  Matter of fact, according to a report distributed by the Ohio Association of Community Colleges, students who move from Ohio’s two-year colleges to four-year universities are as successful as their peers who began their education at a four-year campus.  Most community colleges offer a general education core that is easily transferable to a four-year university.

How expensive is it to attend a community college?
Average tuition and fees at Ohio’s community and technical colleges are less than half that charged by Ohio’s public universities.  Tuition established this fall for the 2003 - 2004 academic year at Ohio community and technical colleges averaged $2,880. This is compared to an average tuition of $6,822 for new students at Ohio public university main campuses.

Will I be able to find a job with an associate degree?
Absolutely!  The Ohio Job Outlook to 2008, generated by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, estimates that the employment outlook for people with an associate degree is the fastest growing educational sector.  Another report, Workforce 2020: Work and Workers in the 21st Century, states that 65 percent of future jobs require an associate degree or advanced training.  Another significant point is that community college graduates fair very well in regard to salary comparisons between two-year graduates and four-year graduates.  According to the Ohio Association of Community Colleges, the annual average salary for 2002 Ohio associate degree graduates six months after their graduation was $34,400. The comparable salary for bachelor degree graduates of Ohio four-year universities was $32,207. This difference is attributable to the greater concentrations of associate degree graduates in high demand, high paying fields such as health and engineering.

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American Community Colleges