Choosing a School | CommunityCollegeReview.com

Whether you are a high school student, an adult student, or someone looking for retraining, we have all the resources you need to make an educated choice about the right community college for you. We’ll compare community colleges to other institutions of higher education, explore college rankings and the accreditation system, and provide useful tips to ensure your community college credits transfer easily.
View the most popular articles in Choosing a School:
For many community college students, the end goal is not simply an associate degree from their current school, but the ability to transfer to a university and earn a bachelor's degree. However, many community college students are dismayed to discover that the classes they paid for and worked hard in at their community college don't always make the transfer to the next step. To ensure the hard work completed at the community college level does not go by the wayside, we analyze the latest US News and World Report study that discusses the 10 most transfer-friendly universities around the country.

Transfer Rates
 
According to the US News and World Report study, more than a half-million community college students transferred into four-year colleges in 2009. There are a variety of reasons why students may choose to take this path to completing their education. Some like the more affordable tuition rates at community colleges and get as many of their credits at these less expensive schools as possible before completing their education at a university. Others find that after earning their associate degree, they want to pursue additional training and education in their field.
 
No matter what the reason for completing a transfer, students in this situation may discover that universities vary significantly in the amount of transfer students they accept and the resources provided to transfer students. For those who want to join this number in the future, it pays to research the best universities for transfer students, so they can . . . read more

Community colleges are available in nearly every city across the United States, helping high school graduates and professional adults alike get the training and education they need to succeed in their chosen careers. A key component in a quality education from a community college is the school's accreditation that ensures the degree and education received will be recognized by other schools and professional industries. However, not all community colleges successfully keep their accreditation status intact, leaving students and faculty scrambling to legitimize the education process without this important stamp of approval.

What is Accreditation?
 
According to the Maryland Higher Education Commission, accreditation is "a voluntary process of self-regulation and peer review adopted by the educational community." This means that educational institutions have agreed to evaluate one another to determine whether each has successfully achieved its stated educational goals.

When a school is accredited, it has been proven to provide a quality of education recognized by the educational community at large. Accredited schools are better recognized for their coursework and credits earned, and students who attend these institutions are more likely to be able to receive financial aid or transfer credits to another college or university.
 
It is important to note that while there are a number of different types of accreditation available to colleges today, the only legitimate accreditation organizations are recognized by the United States Department of Education. Not all colleges that are approved by their states are accredited as well. Prospective students should always ask whether . . . read more

Since he took office, President Obama has been pushing to raise the community college graduation rate as an answer to our currently sluggish workforce and economy. A recent study on the earnings of college grads proves that the president might be right on track – at least in the state of Florida. The study, reported in the Miami Herald, shows that community college graduates tend to earn a higher average salary after school than students graduating from state universities.

What the Numbers Show
 
According to figures that were included in a report to the Florida State Board of Education Meeting held in December, community college graduates who earned associate in science degrees from Florida community colleges earned an average annual salary of $47,708 right out of school. By the same token, students who graduated from one of the state's 11 public university earned an average annual salary of just $36,552. The difference, around $11,000 per year, is not insignificant for those just starting out in the professional world, particularly those who might be graduating with a decent amount of student debt.
 
Graduates of vocational programs offered through community colleges also seemed to do well after graduation, with much less time invested up front. According to a report at Community College Spotlight, students who graduated from programs that took six months or less to complete earned an average annual salary of $37, 356. Those who completed certificate training in a specific industry earned an . . . read more

Students who wish to earn a four-year degree but have limited funds to pay for a university have often been in a quandary over how to pay for their education. Some begin their college careers in less expensive community colleges, in the hopes of transferring to a four-year college once they earn their associate's degree. To expand the options for these students, some community colleges are teaming up with four-year institutions to provide dual-enrollment at both schools at the same time. We'll tell you how this dual enrollment works, what the benefits are and highlight some of the schools already using this model.

What is Dual Enrollment?
 
Students pursuing the dual enrollment option actually enroll in a community college and four-year university simultaneously. The student must be accepted into both schools before the dual enrolment can be complete. In most of these programs, students can take courses from either institution, and tuition rates are based on the college where the course is offered. In addition, students have access to facilities and services at both colleges, expanding their options in additional activities and resources.
 
Benefits of Dual Enrollment
 
There are many potential benefits of the dual enrollment model, including:

  • Simplified admission process that allows students access to both colleges with one application
  • Course planning and advising is coordinated for a more efficient degree track
  • Financial aid is streamlined between the two schools
  • Expanded options for student services, including counseling, libraries and computer labs
  • Transcripts may be sent automatically from one institution to the other . . . read more

Finding a community college can be a challenging prospect today, with many states boasting a large number of colleges that all promise the best training for today's workforce. Students may be hard-pressed to find reliable information about the various colleges in their areas, with little concrete information provided outside of the institutions themselves.  While Community College Review's goal is to provide students with concrete, valuable information on individual community colleges, a recent ranking of community colleges is stirring both appreciation and controversy. 

One publication, Washington Monthly, has created a simple ranking system of the top community colleges in the country.  Which community colleges are at the top of the list – and do the Washington Monthly’s rankings truly matter? 
 
The Rankings and the Controversy
 
Washington Monthly recently released its most recent rankings on community colleges across the country to the delight of many prospective students – and the chagrin of many educators who know better than to heed rankings alone when choosing a college. The publication offers a listing of the top 50 community colleges in the nation, based on a wide range of criteria and information taken from the Community College Survey of Student Engagement.
 
Interestingly, CCSSE is one of the most vocal opponents to Washington Monthly's rankings. In a press release issued shortly after the publication of the rankings, CCSSE director Kay McClenney states, “We commend the Washington Monthly for recognizing the importance of community colleges to America’s future, and we have long sought to prompt a redefinition . . . read more
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Choosing a School

Getting Started

This section provides an in depth look at choosing the right community college. We’ll cover the reasons why community college is a good choice and the best steps to take when making your decision. Find tips and resources to aid in your search for the perfect school.

Community vs. Other Colleges

With so many higher education options, we compare community colleges against other institutions to help you find the best option for your needs. We’ll look at how community colleges are outperforming 4-year schools, study the latest data on the ROI of community colleges and explore why more students are turning to them.

College Rankings & Accreditation

Are you attending one of the best community colleges? Do rankings matter? From the best schools in the US to those losing accreditation, we’ll provide you with the latest resources on community college rankings.

Transfer Process

Many community college students transfer to four-year institutions. Be prepared to make a swift and easy transfer with these articles. Determine the most transfer-friendly universities, learn why some 4-year schools are limiting transfer students, and get tips on ensuring your credits go with you.