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.
View the most popular articles in Choosing a School:
An In-Depth Guide to Choosing the Right Community College
Students considering a community college should start first with this guide to ensure they choose a school that will meet their educational and professional goals.
Community college has become a viable option for many who want to expand their educational experience, but don’t feel that a four-year university is the right fit for them. As President Obama continues to make community college a focus of his presidency, most potential students are giving these two-year schools a second look as well. There is a wealth of community colleges available today, and the broad spectrum of schools can make it difficult to know which institution will meet the specific needs of a student best. If you are about to embark on a journey into the world of higher education, we have the information you need to ensure you select the best school for you.

Reasons to Choose Community College
 
For those who are still in the process of choosing between a community college and four-year university, it is important to weigh the advantages of a community college before making your selection. Some of the reasons to opt for a community college include:
 
Cost
 
The average cost of tuition at a community college is significantly less than that at a four-year institution, even with recent tuition rate increases at many two-year schools across the country. Students who want a four-year degree can choose to begin their adventure into higher education at a community or junior college, where they can earn credits for a lot less money. If all the credits transfer to a four-year school after the first two years, students enjoy the same bachelor degree as . . . read more

New Community College Transfer Programs Putting Students on Fast Track to Success
More college transfer programs are streamlining the process of transferring from community colleges to four-year universities. Learn about some of the newest programs and how you could possibly benefit.
While some community college students focus on a two-year vocational program to launch their career, others look ahead to additional education to make their desired career path a reality. To make the second path more efficient, many community colleges across the country are teaming up with four-year universities to streamline the transfer process. While this is a pattern that has been gaining steam, new community colleges are joining the ranks this year to offer even more options to community college graduates. We’ll take a look at some of the latest community college transfer programs launching around the country.

The Big Transfer Push in California
 
One of the biggest transfer programs to make headlines this year is in California. Currently, the state has 112 community colleges. Of that number, more than half have developed an associate degree program designed for transfer to CSU schools. According to a report in the Sacramento Business Journal, the goal of the plan is to provide guaranteed associate degrees for transfer at every community college in the state. Chancellor of California Community Colleges, Jack Scott, said that the new program is still in the early stages and that much more is planned. Students that are currently enrolled in participating community colleges, and have taken 60 credit hours in an approved associate degree program, will be able to transfer to a CSU school with a similar major and a junior standing.
 
According to California Community Colleges, the transfer program will save the system $160 million each . . . read more

University Leaders Report: How to Increase Transfers from Community Colleges
Many students start their academic careers at a community college, hoping to transfer to a four-year university, but find themselves missing the mark. Thankfully, a new report surveying university leaders provides ideas on how to help students make the transfer successfully.
While community colleges offer a wealth of options in associate degree programs and practical career training, the majority of students that grace a community college campus for a period of time are not content with a degree from these schools. In fact, the large majority of community college students has plans to further their education by eventually transferring their credits to a four-year institution. This is the precise subject of the latest report by College Board that looked at the high number of community college students that want to transfer to a four-year university and why.

About the Report
 
College Board is a non-profit organization committed to equality in education, from the early primary years all the way through a postsecondary education. This particular report, titled, “Improving Student Transfer from Community Colleges to Four-Year Institutions,” was designed to emphasize the importance of smooth pathways between community colleges and other institutions of higher education. The College Board website estimates that more than 7 million students enrolled in community colleges – up to 41 percent of all college students across the country - at any given time. With so many students enrolled in community colleges, it is important to assess what the choices for these students might be should they decide to continue to pursue their education after their initial degree program is completed.
 
To compile this report, College Board interviewed 21 education leaders at 12 institutions of higher education across the country, according to an article on the New . . . read more

Why More Students are Choosing Community Colleges over Traditional Four-Year Schools
Community colleges are quickly becoming a key competitor against four year universities – and for many good reasons! Learn about why more students are opting to enroll in their local community college, rather than going straight to four year institutions.
In the past, four-year universities always seemed to carry more prestige and practical professional preparation than their two-year counterparts. However, as prices for universities continue to rise and community colleges expand their fields of study and improve their quality, the field of higher education appears to be changing. Today, community college enrollment is increasing exponentially at schools across the country, while four-year institutions have seen a small drop in student population within the past year. We’ll take a look at the numbers and explore some of the reasons why more students might be choosing to go to community college today.
 
Changing Times or One-Time Blip?
 
According to a recent story in the Courier-News, national college enrollment figures dropped last year by about two percentage points. While a single-year statistic is nothing to write home about, many financial experts see this downturn as the beginning of a trend – the burst of the bubble on higher education. Some attribute the lower enrollment to fewer jobs and higher tuition rates that make parents and students alike question the real value of a bachelor’s degree today.
 
At the same time, enrollment numbers for many community colleges across the country continue to rise. And enrollment isn’t the only statistic that is going up. The Courier-News also reported that Waubonsee Community College in Illinois graduated its largest class in history this past spring. Elgin Community College followed suit with their most recent graduating class. 
 
Waubonsee spokeman Jeff Noblitt told the Courier-News, “That’s . . . read more

Are You Attending a Top 10% Community College?
How well is your community college ranked? We analyze the Aspen Institute's top 10% community college rankings to see where your current or prospective campus stands.
Community colleges have come to the forefront of higher education in recent years, since President Obama has made them one of the priorities for his administration. To help the process along, the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program recently published a list of what it calls the nation's 120 best community colleges – which is the top 10 percent of all community colleges in the country. This list comes after extensive data collecting and analysis that attempted to accommodate the broad variations within community colleges while adhering to a general standardization that accurately compares schools.

The Contest for Top Spot
 
Now that the top 10% college list has been completed, the Aspen Institute hopes to continue the process by choosing 10 colleges out of the original 120. From the list of 10, the organization will select a single, top-performing school to award a $1 million  for excellence in school performance. According to the Aspen Institute's website, the purpose of the contest is to raise awareness of the value of community colleges, as well as reward those institutions that are committed to maintaining the highest standards of excellence in their educational pursuits.
 
To help them achieve this goal, the Aspen Institute recently appointed a high-profile jury to select the 10 finalists for the prize. The co-chairs of the jury are former Michigan Governor John Engler and former Secretary of Education Richard Riley. Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan attended the announcement event. The Aspen prize had . . . 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.