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When it comes to higher education in the United States, famous American universities immediately come to mind. However, there are alternative ways to get higher education in this country. The most popular of them is studying at US community colleges.
What is Community College?
Community college, or “community college”, is a purely American phenomenon. This type of college was created in order to make higher education more accessible to the population of the country. Today, not only Americans, but also foreign students study in such colleges.
Traditionally, colleges are distinguished by convenient location and relatively low cost of education. Due to their location in the city, community colleges are popular with local students. Especially among those who want to study close to home, having a family, as well as among older students and those who return to study after a break. Thus, in college, your fellow students will be completely different people, which will make the learning process more interesting and unusual.
Traditionally, studying at a US college is viewed by students as a step towards university education or as an alternative to studying at a university.
What can you study in a US college?
In the US community colleges, almost every student can find a specialty that suits him. However, the choice of programs in colleges is somewhat different from universities. First of all, colleges present programs that lead to a narrowly focused applied education. For example, you can study nursing, cooking, auto mechanics or construction. These programs are usually aimed at students who are going to get a job right after college.
Also in the US community colleges there are many programs in the main areas of current interest today, including natural sciences, mathematics, economics, health care, IT, design, hospitality, pedagogy, community service, etc. Graduates of such programs can both get a job and continue their studies at a university. It is worth noting that there are also subjects that are rarely presented in community colleges, unlike universities. These include philosophy, law, dentistry, literature and a number of other specialties that either have little practical application or require fundamental long-term education. Most colleges also lack research programs. In addition, in US colleges you can study English. Community colleges have special courses for foreigners that help improve the language level for later life, study and work in the country.
What programs do US colleges offer?
You can apply to a community college in the USA, whether you are going to study for many years or want to take a short course of study. Colleges offer study programs of various types and durations. Associate Degree Associate’s degree programs are the main ones in US community colleges. They last 2 years, involve obtaining 60-80 academic credits and equally prepare students for further study and work. Students can earn an associate’s degree in almost any field. The curriculum consists of basic subjects (mathematics, natural sciences, physics, English, etc.) and additional subjects that the student chooses according to his specialty. Many foreigners receive an associate’s degree in the USA as part of the 2+2 program. Under this program, a student receives an associate’s degree in a college in 2 years, and then immediately goes to the 3rd year of a bachelor’s degree at one of the American universities, where he studies for another 2 years. Thanks to this program, the student can save time and money, since 2 years of college education is cheaper than at the university.
Certificates and diplomas Certificate and diploma programs in US colleges are suitable for students who want to get a secondary specialized education in a short time and the opportunity to get a job in America. These programs do not lead to higher education, do not last long (up to 2 years), and have lower requirements. At the same time, a student can find certificate and diploma programs in almost any specialty, as is the case with associate programs. Bachelors degree To date, undergraduate programs in US colleges are not the most popular option, but their number is improving from year to year. Like universities, these programs last 4 years and lead to higher education. Students can choose almost any specialization, from business to arts and design. Why go to undergraduate college and not university? First, college undergraduate programs are cheaper. Secondly, they are easier to enter due to simplified entrance requirements and a small competition. However, undergraduate programs at community colleges are traditionally considered less prestigious and promising than undergraduate programs at universities. Other programs Many community colleges in the United States offer students a number of additional study programs, including: professional development programs professional retraining programs professional development programs academic courses in selected subjects English courses, etc.
Why go to community college?
Studying at US community colleges is very popular among international students. Here are some reasons to go to an American college: Simplified enrollment Getting into an American college is easier than getting into a university. US colleges have lower entry requirements, many do not require the SAT or ACT, and English proficiency requirements are average. At the same time, there is practically no competition for places, which means that you can enter with a lower level of preparation and grades. In addition, community colleges accept international students from the age of 16, while universities only accept international students from the age of 18. You can save money on studying in the USA Perhaps this is the main plus of American colleges. Studying at a US college costs several times less than at a university. Below is the average cost of studying at a community college for foreigners in comparison with universities: Colleges State universities Private universities $8,000-10,000 per year $25,000-35,000 per year $30,000-45,000 per year At a community college, a student can receive an affordable secondary specialized education that allows them to legally stay and work in the United States.
For students who are going to continue their studies at the university, the college helps to save on their studies due to the “2 + 2” program, which we wrote about above. Based on the average cost of education, let’s compare how much a student will spend on 4 years of study at the university and on studying under the 2 + 2 program (2 years of college + 2 years of university): $30,000 x 4 = $120,000 (for 4 years at a public university) $10,000 x 2 + $30,000 x 2 = $80,000 (2+2 program) Thus, studying in college for the first 2 years allows foreign students to save on education in America, on average, $40,000! It is also important to remember that in most cases, accommodation and meals in US colleges are also cheaper than in universities. And it also helps students save a lot. A wide range of specialties The uniqueness of American colleges lies in the fact that here you can get an academic degree in just 2 years. At the same time, almost all specialties are represented in the community college. Students can study arts, sciences, engineering, IT, hospitality, healthcare, journalism and more.
There are generalist colleges and colleges with more subspecialties, such as business and administration, culinary arts, or the creative arts. Basis for further study at the university An associate’s degree from a college facilitates and simplifies further admission to American universities. A student can enroll immediately in the 3rd year of a bachelor’s degree with a credit for received academic credits and without passing additional exams. At the same time, it is important that the specialty in the bachelor’s degree correspond to what the student studied in college. According to the “2 + 2” program, a graduate with an associate’s degree can continue his studies both in a partner university and in any other American university. To transfer from a college to a U.S. university, a student must: have a GPA of 3.5 take subjects that roughly correspond to the program of the first 2 years of undergraduate studies in a similar specialty have a TOEFL certificate (from 65 points) have a SAT / ACT certificate (depending on the requirements of the university) Such a scheme saves time, effort and money, gives the student an excellent preparation for studying at a university, allows him to adapt in the United States and make sure that the chosen specialty is correct. The study is focused on employment College programs have a practical focus, give students clear knowledge and skills to work in a particular field. This is great news for foreigners who go to community college to stay and work in America.
Colleges train highly demanded specialists of a narrow profile, who, immediately after receiving a degree, can get a job and start earning. The median salary for graduates with an associate’s degree in the US is $40,100 per year. By the way, many colleges help their students in matters of employment in the United States, which is especially important for foreigners. Less workload and requirements We have already written that it is easier to go to college than to university. So, college is easier too. In a community college, there is less workload and teaching hours, and the requirements for students are also lower. Less rigid study schedule and more free action – that’s what awaits a student in college. Therefore, studying at a community college is perfect for more independent students who can wisely distribute their time and energy and strive to absorb new knowledge themselves. You can work and train in the USA Colleges actively support students who want to master a profession, start working and earn as early as possible. Therefore, colleges give students the opportunity to: Earn money while studying Foreign students study at US colleges on an F-1 visa. This visa entitles you to work up to 20 hours a week while studying. In the first year of study, a student can only work in the college itself on his campus, and from the second year onwards, with any employer of his choice
Internship Community college students, like university students, can do internships and gain real work experience in US companies. Among other students, 10-week internships under the Community College Internships (CCI) program are available, which provide not only practical experience, but also the opportunity to earn money! High-achieving students over the age of 18 can apply for an internship. Remain working in the US under the OPT program Graduates of 2-year associate college programs are eligible to stay and work in the US for 1 year under the OPT (Optional Pracainintical Trg) program. At the same time, the position should be directly related to the specialty that the graduate received in college. Students apply for OPT during their last semester of college.
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