Choosing a School

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.
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In these times of tighter family budgets and increased competition for admission to four-year universities, community college students may worry about their prospects for transferring to a university after earning an associate’s degree.
 
However, many students can put their mind at ease, especially if you live in an area where your local community colleges have entered into guaranteed admission agreements with four-year state universities. What follows is an overview of some states that are leading the way in guaranteed-admission and articulation agreements:
 
Hawaii
 
The Honolulu Star-Bulletin reports that starting in the 2010-11 school year, students who earn an associate’s degree from any of the seven community colleges under the University of Hawaii system will automatically be accepted to the University of Hawaii-Manoa, University of Hawaii-Hilo, or University of Hawaii-West Oahu.
 
The University of Hawaii will also waive admission fees for these students, and it will make these students eligible for early registration at any of the state system’s four-year colleges.

New Hampshire
 
The state of New Hampshire offers its community colleges a similar guarantee. Its Connections Program, according to the Community College Times, allows students who take at least 12 credits per semester for two consecutive semesters at any of the state’s seven community colleges to automatically be accepted to the University of New Hampshire or other state schools, as long as the students earned a grade of “C” or better in all of their classes. As in Hawaii, students who are automatically accepted to the state university do not have . . . read more

The face of college education in America is changing, especially on community college campuses. While community colleges were once unfairly labeled as “13th grade,” these two-year institutions now provide plentiful opportunities for high-achieving students to challenge themselves.  Indeed, a growing number of high school valedictorians and honors students are enrolling in community colleges afterhigh school
 
Community Colleges Increasingly Serving the Best and the Brightest
 
Prompted in part by economic concerns, a number of top high school students are choosing to forego enrollment at prestigious four-year universities in favor of spending their first two years in an honors program at a community college.  Indeed, the savings can be dramatic, and these students can save $80,000 by attending community college first, instead of a private college.  
 
These honors programs, most of which are highly selective and academically rigorous, are designed to provide academically talented students with intellectual challenges for an affordable price, and they are more popular now than they have ever been.

Honors Programs at Two-Year Colleges Are Thriving


A recent article in the Washington Post reported that applications to community college honors programs are growing at a quicker rate than general applications, which are also on the rise. Honors programs of particular note include:

* The Montgomery Scholars program of Maryland's Montgomery College. This highly selective program, which is ten years old, has only 25 seats available and received a record 275 applications for Fall 2009, according to the Post.

* The Rouse . . . read more

While community colleges provide an excellent opportunity to transfer to four-year institutions, the latest statistics are not optimistic. In fact, according to the most recent accountability report released by California's community college system, only 40% of community college students who seek four-year degrees are successful in transferring to one of the state's four-year universities.

In California, 60% of community college students who intended to transfer to four-year universities never meet their goal - which has led to the formation of a state task force charged with finding ways to improve the transfer rate, as reported by the Mercury News.
 
The obstacles facing community college students wishing to transfer to four-year universities are formidable.  Overcrowded community college campuses make enrolling in required pre-requisite courses difficult. Rising tuitions at public universities means four-year degrees are now unaffordable for some students. In addition, a lack of standardization in transfer requirements statewide makes the transfer process feel like a confusing maze to many degree-seeking students.
 
Indeed, there is much room for improvement in helping more community college students transfer to four-year universities. 
 
Why Some Students Never Make It to Four-Year Universities
 
Community college students who wish to transfer to a four-year university in today's educational climate face a number of potential roadblocks - a fact which may account for the high number of community college students who never make it through the doors of a four-year university.
 
Overcrowded Community College Campuses
 
Many community colleges in California and across the nation are struggling to cope with a recent surge of . . . read more

Today's students enjoy more programs and degree opportunities at community colleges than ever before! However, with so many choices, finding the right community college can be overwhelming.  While there are many factors to consider in choosing a community college, there are four specific checklist steps you can take to choose the perfect community college for your future.

Step 1: Consider Your Professional Pathway
 
Before you enroll in community college, it is important to understand what your long-term professional goals are. Do you want to be a nurse? Would you like to be a scientist or engineer? Does being a wine taster fit your professional fancy? Based upon your projected professional goals, create a list of community colleges that offer reputable programs and degrees in your field. This will help you narrow down your choices based upon campuses that will propel into professional success.
 
In addition, keep in mind that even university-bound students can benefit from attending community college first. Instead of being an ?undeclared? major at a four-year university, explore your options at community college first. University courses often cost twice as much (or more) than the average community college classes. Students who are eager to explore different subjects can save thousands of dollars by enrolling at a nearby community college before wasting tuition costs at a university.
 
Step 2: Investigate the Industry
 
Once you have made a decision about your professional goals, experts strongly recommend meeting with an employer in your field of interest. For . . . read more

Historically, community colleges were established to help students develop vocational skills. However, in today’s academic environment, America’s top universities are specifically recruiting directly from community colleges!
 
Four-year universities traditionally evaluate a student’s overall GPA, standardized test scores, and extracurricular involvement. However, these high school progress points do not always accurately predict how a student will perform at the collegiate level. 
 
Subsequently, a rising number of universities are specifically recruiting students who are enrolled or who have graduated from a community college. Many university leaders assert that community college students and graduates have accurately proved their collegiate skills and abilities. Therefore, students hoping to attend a four year institution may want to start at their local community college first to add a competitive edge to their application. 
 
Why are Universities Seeking Community College Students?
 
Proof of Student Success and Excellence
While many students who are seeking affordable, convenient, and program-specific courses often pursue degree pathways through community colleges, many higher education leaders are striving to shift motivated community college students into a university education. 
 
A central catalyst for this new focus on community college applicants is most notably based upon studies that reveal the soaring success rates among students who transfer from a two year institution to a four year school. In fact, as the Longview News Journal reveals, “Studies show that students who complete community college course work before going to four-year institutions tend to graduate at a higher rate than those who begin their college educations at four-year institutions.” Unlike a high school graduate’s short term results, . . . 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.