Community colleges are 2-year colleges which exist in few other places in the world, which is why they are little known outside the United States. There is a similar concept of 2-year technical education in Germany, but it is not the same. Community colleges or 2-year colleges offer the same classes as 4-year colleges, but at a lower cost. The quality of education depends on the faculty and student body – some colleges are more competitive than others, in particular fields. The important thing is to find the gems among them – and there are many. There are more than 1000 such colleges in the United States and most offer an excellent education.
Advantages for U.S. citizens: 2-year colleges have become popular among Americans because they offer less expensive education to citizens and residents of the particular state. President Obama has decided to invest further in these colleges as they fill an important gap in the U.S. economy and education. For most Americans, they are a useful and cheaper transition to a 4-year school. They are 25-35% the price of a 4-year college. They also teach English to immigrants, provide vocational/professional skills (dental hygiene, nursing, welding, technical certificates, etc.), and offer flexibility so that most people can work full-time and attend classes in the evenings.
Advantages for International Students: EducationUSA believes there are many advantages to attending community colleges for international students. In many cases, starting at a community college can be not just a cheaper, but smarter option for many students.
Here is why:
- Admission is easier. You do not need to take the TOEFL or the SAT to attend a community college. Most 4-year colleges require the TOEFL and SAT.
- Admission is faster. You are likely to receive an answer from a community college in as little as 2 weeks. Most 4-year colleges or universities will take 2 to 3 months to reply.
- Short-cut to a competitive 4-year universities. Applying from a community college may give you better chances to be admitted a competitive university than if you apply directly to that university. For example, if you apply to the University of California straight away, your chances of acceptance are 5-30%. If you apply from one of the associated community colleges, the admission rate is 75%-90%.
- Guaranteed Admission: Many community colleges have agreements with the public university that enable them to guarantee you can continue your study at that university, provided you have the required GPA. Smart kids at community colleges go straight to the state or other universities. Be sure to ask colleges for information on Transfer Pathway Programs. Most Indonesian students can achieve the GPA needed to transfer.
- Saving money. You would be saving about 25%-35% of the cost.
- Smaller classes. You will get greater individual attention than in most popular university classes.
- No teaching assistants. Many reputable universities (Harvard, Stanford, Brown, Michigan) have graduate students teach some of the classes. Community colleges have professors teach.
Ask an EducationUSA counselor for a list of appropriate community colleges. You can also check the list of community colleges that have visited Indonesia and have a good number of Indonesian students already (Green River Community College, San Mateo College, Shoreline and others).