Community College and ESL Programs for International Students
Why Study at a Community College?
Congratulations on your desire to expand your horizons by pursuing higher education abroad! Studying in a foreign country has many advantages: exposure to a new culture, unique people, and frequently a different language. Meeting and learning with various people helps us better understand the world and become more tolerant individuals. It also allows us to grow in independence, critical thinking, and problem solving.
So now that you have decided to study in the United States, the next question is: which college or university do you choose? Community colleges are a wonderful place to study, both in general and for international students in particular, though they are often misunderstood abroad. But don’t let this deter you from considering a community college! Community colleges allow for quality education at an affordable cost, they tend to be comprised of a very diverse student body, and there are many things to do above and beyond what goes on in the classroom that provide the student with a well-rounded educational experience.
Not only are community colleges less expensive than four-year institutions, but they provide the first two years of coursework necessary to transfer to a four-year institution where students can continue to pursue a bachelor’s degree. Community colleges offer numerous academic programs to meet the needs of most students. Health care, business, information technology, liberal arts, early childhood development—these are just some of the programs community college students can pursue.
Furthermore, community colleges allow students from a wide variety of walks of life to come together in the classroom and learn from each other. Students straight out of high school work side by side with adults returning to school after having been in their career field for a while. You will meet students from a variety of ethnicities, socio-economic classes, and overall lifestyles. You will benefit from these differences between students when working on group assignments, attending study groups, or just chatting with classmates between classes.
Students in community colleges enjoy not only a solid education that prepares them either for the workforce or for transferring credits towards a bachelor’s degree, but they enjoy extra-curricular activities as well. Sports, clubs, volunteer work, and political activities are all available for students interested in supplementing their educational experience. In keeping with the tradition of fostering independence and cooperation with community members, most community colleges do not provide on-campus dormitories for students, which allows students to further expand their experience by living among the community, in the “real world” from the beginning.
Now allow me to share a personal experience with you, which illustrates the benefits of a community college education. I myself am a product of a community college. After a short break following high school graduation, I began taking classes at my local community college. There were several campuses to choose from, some specializing in a specific area of study. Since I was not yet sure of what I wanted to major in, I was able to take courses on such varied topics as English, religion, science, yoga, American Sign Language… the list goes on. I was never very good at math, and yet my first math course in college finally made sense to me! The instructor took the time to explain the concepts, and for the first time, I got a good grade in math. I also got individualized attention from my yoga instructor, who went over breathing techniques with me after class. My religion instructor inspired me to pursue religion further.
My associate degree allowed me to enter the U.S. Army with a higher rank and pay-grade. And after I was discharged from the military, I continued my education at a four-year college. Almost all of my courses from the community college transferred towards my bachelor’s degree. Long story short, upon graduating I was accepted to graduate school at one of the most prestigious U.S. universities. I now have a master’s degree from Georgetown University and I am pursuing a doctoral degree there as well. And my entire educational journey began with two years at my local community college.
I enjoyed my time at the community college so much, in fact, that I went back to teach English as a Second Language there for three years. Currently, I work there as an International Student Advisor. In these roles I have continued to meet people from all over the world who teach me about their experiences, their knowledge, their opinions, and frequently their countries. It is this diversity, coupled with excellence in educational standards that makes me a big proponent of community colleges. If you want a true taste of the average American lifestyle, then you will want to experience studying at a community college.
Congratulations again on this momentous decision, and best of luck to you as you embark on a journey you will remember for the rest of your life!