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Seek These Important Traits in a U.S. Community College

International students considering community colleges should investigate campus activities and academic advising. 

140507_communitycollege

International students should consider community colleges as an affordable gateway to higher education in the U.S.

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There are many international students who would like to pursue their education in America, but with tuition fees skyrocketing, especially for international students who typically have to pay out-of-state tuition, it may seem impossible.

American universities are well regarded and commonly rank among the most prestigious in the world, but many international students are quick to assume they simply cannot afford it. Community colleges are smaller and more affordable institutions in which to start your path to higher education in America.

The cost of attending a community college can be considerably less than a four-year university. Most community colleges have agreements with state universities to accept transfer credit, making the whole transfer process relatively simple.

Many international students overlook the fact that numerous community colleges have the advantage of highly qualified faculty. Many professors enjoy the flexibility of lecturing part time, as it allows them to still focus on other career goals. Prospective students can check the faculty page on the college website to easily assess a school's professors. 

[Understand why international students should consider a two-year U.S. college.]

A community college can also help international students become more competitive candidates for admission to a four-year university, as the transcript evaluation process can put international students at a disadvantage when applying directly. The standards of evaluation differ across countries. In Brazil, for instance, universities do not consider any extracurricular activities when making an admissions decision. Instead, it is solely based on standardized test scores, which can discourage students from engaging in outside activities. 

The American education system strongly values out-of-class and hands-on learning experiences. In a community college, students have the opportunity to join a variety of clubs and organizations, just like those they would benefit from in a four-year institution. 

Therefore, I found that choosing to attend a community college was the best way to enhance my chances of being admitted into a respected four-year university. Doing so can allow students to demonstrate a solid academic commitment while being actively involved on campus activities, resulting in a well-rounded educational experience that international students might not have had the chance to achieve in their countries.

[Learn the pros and cons of attending a community college as an international student.]

College websites typically include a section on student activities, with a list of campus activities and opportunities for students, along with a calendar showing when and where the meetings take place. Prospective students can usually email the person who coordinates campus activities for clarification.

These resources make it easy to find if a school has clubs that best suit your interests, places to meet like-minded people and ways to expand your horizons on a certain subject as well as network and enhance your marketability.

International students attending community colleges have many opportunities to have a successful transition to a four-year university. Many schools have academic advisers available throughout the year to help you choose the right classes for your major, discuss your academic future, help you assess your prospects for transferring and make you aware of application deadlines.

It can be useful for prospective students to contact the academic advisers of their intended community college to know how many international students attend the college, as well as the rate of international students who go on to transfer.

[Check out common campus resources for international students.]

Community colleges also offer the possibility of first graduating with an associate degree with honors, so check to see if the opportunity is available at schools you are considering. Honors can increase your chances of receiving scholarships, allowing you to transfer to a university with some financial assistance.

Community college students can be inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, which recognizes academic achievement. Many universities have affiliations with the society, which offers a wide range of scholarships for transferring students.

International students who attend a community college for their freshmen and sophomore years also tend to become at ease with the English language in an academic environment. Additionally, because classes are generally smaller, students can nurture a closer relationship with professors, which can help them in the future.

Community colleges are a prevalent part of the American educational system, yet they remain largely unknown abroad. Doing research on the benefits of attending a community college for the first two years helped me decide to pursue an American education.