Darina Pogodina, a Russian student at Boston's Bunker Hill Community College, has benefited from such programs. Although she already has a bachelor's degree from her home country, she's at Bunker Hill to improve her English skills, in addition to earning an associate degree and completing prerequisites for a master's program in the United States. She says her Bunker Hill professors "speak slower and are helping her feel comfortable with a U.S.-style education."
Since colleges vary in support for international students, it's a good idea for students to contact international services or admissions departments by phone or E-mail during the application process to ask about services offered, Jennings says. Students need to get a feel for how easy it is to communicate with college staff based on their current language skills, he says.
Choosing courses is also a crucial part of adjusting to U.S. college life. International students often do not get to select individual classes while in high school, Jennings notes, and may stick with the same group of students throughout high school.
When students have course options, majors may change as well as school choice for completing their bachelor's degree. Community colleges allow for a period of adjustment to American schools before incurring four-year school tuition rates.
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Jennings does recommend students start at four-year colleges if they were already accepted to their dream school. While visiting a prep school in China where 20 students were on their way to Green River, he met a student who was accepted to University of Washington. Given that her parents could easily afford the tuition, Jennings advised her to attend to the four-year institution instead of his community college.
Ultimately, he notes, students need to look at all of their options and consider what's best for themselves academically and for their family financially.
Reyna Gobel, frequently quoted as an expert on student loans and college costs, is the author of "Graduation Debt: How To Manage Student Loans And Live Your Life" and "How Smart Students Pay for School: The Best Way to Save for College, Get the Right Loans, and Repay Debt." She has appeared on PBS's Nightly Business Report and speaks regularly at CollegeWeekLive.