why study in community college in usa
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3 Simple Reasons to Study in Community College in USA


Students can save lot of money by studying in a Community College in USA.

Especially for international students planning to study Bachelors degree in USA, community college is a good alternative to start your degree.

For an international student planning to study Bachelors Degree in USA is an expensive undertaking.

$10,000 per semester for 8 semester equals to $80,000 in tuition fees alone. Then add living and other expenses.

For students coming from India, $120,000 bachelors degree is really expensive.  But, over $30,000 can be saved by studying first two years in a community college.

There are two possible options for a student to study for bachelors degree in USA :

  1. Study 4 year program at an college or university
  2. Study in community college in USA for 2 years and transfer for year 3 and 4.

In this article, let’s examine why taking the option two might be better than option 1.

Here’s a simple math :

  • Community college is also known as junior college which offers two years degree program called Associate’s Degree.
  • International students can apply for admission to study Associate Degree at a community college.
  • At end of second year, student can then transfer to traditional 4-yeat college or university to earn their Bachelors Degree.
  • Course credits that are taken in a community college is typically transferred to 4-year bachelors degree granting institution.
  • If all the course credits from community college are accepted, then the  student will need to study only two years at the four-year college to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Sounds like a good deal right? Of course it is a good deal.

Here’s few frequently asked questions about studying in a Community College in USA and transferring to traditional college for Bachelors degree.

  • Why would someone wants to spend two years in a community college?
  • What about the quality of education at in community college?
  • Do I get to save money by studying in a community college compared to 4 year bachelors degree?
  • Can I transfer college credits to 4 year school?

Here’s 3 short interviews I did at NAFSA Expo Hall with Nancy Fillat, Salt Lake City community college.

Why Study in Community College

Expenses and Transfer of Credits

Where To Transfer?

Transcripts for the video will be available shortly.


Story Behind The Video :

So, I was waiting at NAFSA Conference Expo Hall with Girish from GenNextEducation.  She recognized Girish and gave him a big hug. Then Girish introduced me to her.

Then Girish was like, “Raghu you need to record an interview with her about community colleges”.  Then I took my iPhone, Rode Lav mic, tripod and started recording videos.

Apparently Girish meet her in New Orleans airport and shared a taxi cab for a conference last year. That’s how Girish knew her and that cab ride gave 3 short, information packed interviews for HSB readers. Awesome right?

PS : Should I reach out to her for a longer video interview about community college?

Alright, back to Community Colleges topic.

Cost of  Studying in a Community College

Typical cost for a 12 credits in a 4 year public university will be around $10,000 per semester.

But, in a community college, the tuition fees will is less than $2000 per semester for 12 credits.

That’s $8000 in savings per semester.

Now, if you are an international student, you can potentially save $8000 per semester for four semesters right?

That’s  $32,000 in Savings.

Read that again : About $32,000 in savings.

Community Colleges in USA

Following community colleges are poplar among international students studying

  • Houston Community College (Tex.)
  • Santa Monica College (Calif.)
  • Lone Star College (Tex.)
  • De Anza College (Calif.)
  • Montgomery College (Md.)
  • Green River Community College (Wash.)

Largest Community Colleges in USA

Here’s three largest community colleges in USA.

  • Miami Dade College ( 174,000)
  • Lone Star College ( 90,000)
  • Northern Virginia Community College (76,000)

Downside of studying in the Community  Colleges?

For international students planning to transfer to 4 year bachelors degree program, choice of community college you should depend on you future goal and planned colleges to graduate.

Decide on a 4-year university you plan to transfer after 2 years in community college. Then  identify how many credits from the community college will be accepted during transfer.

Ensure that community college is accredited. If not, then college credits will not be typically accepted when transferring to a 4 year college.

Indian Parents Concern

Indian parents are worried about campus safety. Plus, I have seen parents are worried, if their son or daughter are matured enough to handle life in a community college.

It is possible that you may not find another student from India going to same community college. But the experience and education from a community college will be prepare your son or daughter for brighter future ahead.

With so many international students studying in some of the colleges listed above, I’m sure your son or daughter can make good set of friends after coming to the college campus.

3 Reasons to Study in Community College

Here’s 3 simple reasons for an international student to study in a community college

  1. High quality education
  2. Save ton of money on a 4 years college degree
  3. Small Class Room. Closer attention
  4. (Bonus Reason ) Easier transfer to 4 year colleges that may not accept you directly.

Over to You

Let me know if this article gave an high level overview about studying in Community Colleges in America.

Plus, what else do you want to know about community colleges in USA or Bachelors Degree.

Transcripts for Video
Gaining your first two years of a university program at a community college gives you the opportunity to build your academic record and then transfer to any college and university in the US.

Community college education is less expensive, yet it gives you an equal opportunity at those first two years of your university program, and it fully transfers to four-year schools.

Well, community colleges are the place for international students to begin their US education. A community college offers small classrooms, a smaller campus, more one-on-one attention.

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  1. Hi Sir
    I already completed my BE . I would like to join masters degree in any of the community college , say Portland community college.
    Could you please rough estimate of budgets considering your master’s degree is just for 2?years . And what is the process I need to begin with ?

    Thank you

  2. Hi. To answer the question above, students can get OPT after community college and and another OPT after they complete their 2 years at university to complete their Bachelor’s degree. Community colleges are an incredible option for international students. I am from Shorelime Community College in Seattle. We have a large international student population from 52 countries. Our graduates transfer to excellent universities, including UCLA, Univ of Washington, IC-Berkeley, Michigan, etc. We also have agreements with other universities such as Arizona State that will give you a guranteed admission when you are admitted by Shoreline (as long as you fulfil certain requirements such as GPA, number of credits taken, etc.). Our students have found these to be very helpful in applying for visas. Tuition is only approx. $10,000 a year. The hest part is that you get taught by actual faculty members and not Teaching Assistants, which would be the case during the first 2 years at many universities.

  3. I have completed 3-year regular Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management from India in 2013 and after that, I have work experience relevant to this field.

    Few queries I would like to ask are as below:
    1) Is it alright to take admission in associated degree as it is below to the bachelor’s.
    2) If visa officers ask me why you are choosing associate level program instead of pursuing masters, then what should I reply during the visa interview?
    3)Since I already have a bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management and I will be pursuing an associate degree in the US so if I get an employer who will be ready to file my H1B, so in this case, first of all, will I be eligible for H1B.
    If yes, will there be any complications? In either way, could you please let me know what things will be involved so that I will be prepared beforehand.
    4) Also, I have one query from the job perspective. If I get OPT after completion of Associate degree and if it gets converted to a full-time opportunity, Will I still need to continue another degree after completion of associate degree so as to cover the 4 years of Bachelors or I can continue doing job with Associate degree only.

  4. will d embassy issue visa for an Indian student who is aiming for community college considering immigration for Indians became strict & visa failure rate is high currently ?
    Consultancies told me there’s zero percent chance for visa to be approved if we apply for community colleges…they’re advising me to go for reputable 4 year university….is it true ?

  5. This is a great article for students to have a better understanding of what Community Colleges offer. I do think there was one key element that did not get addressed, and that is OPT.

    After or before finishing an Associates degree students are able to take part in Optional Practical Training (12 months of work authorization in your area of focus). This is a huge perc for those who need a little extra money before they start their Bachelors program. Using OPT will also help establish a students resume making them more qualified in the eyes of future employers.

    If anyone wants to know more benefits of studying at a community college feel free to email me!

    1. thanks for your comment, anyone has a list for community college that are certified to provide OPT to students? is there any rule worth knowing regarding OPT and Community Colleges?

  6. Thanks for the interesting article that highlights the benefits of community colleges, Raghuram! I just wanted to provide some additional info regarding cost. Many (but not all) community colleges are public, meaning that they will have in-state and out of state tuition, much like public universities do (think the UCs, SUNY etc.). International students studying on a student visa typically pay out of state tuition. It is pretty rare for tuition and fees to be in the $4000 per year range as quoted in the article. A more realistic budget for tuition and fees is closer to $5,500-$10,000 per year (and don’t forget to budget for housing and other costs!) I represent De Anza College, mentioned above, and our annual tuition and fee structure is just over $6,700 per year. With this said, community colleges are still an excellent way to earn a bachelor’s degree from top ranked universities at half the cost.

    – Foothill + De Anza Colleges International Programs
    (Silicon Valley, CA)

    1. Hello Jen – Thanks for clarifying the tuition fees about Community College.
      Even with 10k per year, it’s still a huge saving compared to an Univesity, when same courses can be transferred to a 4-year University.

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