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.
View the most popular articles in Getting Started:
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Spotlight: Rio Salado College Innovation Shines on Student Success
In Arizona, the Rio Salado College bucks the national trend, boosting graduation rates and student success stories through innovative assistance for its community college students.
In the face of many difficulties, which include massive budget cuts, low graduation rates, and students that need an abundance of guidance and support to stay on track, community colleges throughout the nation are finding ways to keep their doors open and graduate students on time. No school has been more successful in making the most out of a less-than-ideal situation than Rio Salado College.
 
Rio Salado is part of the Maricopa Community College District, a ten-campus system in Phoenix that offers over 10,000 courses for it’s 250,000 students on campus and online. It is one of the largest higher education institutions in the United States. Rio Salado accounts for roughly 60,000 of the system’s students, many of which attend part-time in order to accommodate work schedules and family needs due to economic disadvantages.
Students who come from poverty have the odds stacked against them with regard to graduation. The graduation rate for community college students in the United States is at most 40 percent, but that number falls drastically for poor and working-class students. According to the New York Times, only about one-quarter of college freshmen born into families in the bottom half of the income spectrum will go on to get an undergraduate degree within six years. Yet, 90 percent of students in the top one-quarter of the income spectrum will obtain their degree. Quite simply, socioeconomic status will greatly determine whether a student gets a
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 Low Standards Mean Higher Failure Rates at Community Colleges
We look at a recent study by the National Center on Education and the Economy that indicates standards are too low at community colleges today. That low bar results in a high failure rate in the job market.
Disturbingly low standards at community colleges nationwide translate to lower chances of success in the job market after college, a new study finds. Researchers discovered that although community college instructors appear to be lowering the bar for first-year students, many were unable to even meet the lower academic standards in math and literacy. This dismal picture suggests multiple layers of reform may be necessary to ensure students are ready for the professional workforce at graduation time.
 
Report Gauges College and Career Readiness
 
The new report, titled, “What does it Really Mean to be College and Work Ready?” was compiled by the National Center on Education and the Economy. The non-profit groups studies academic standards, instructional systems and assessment. Researchers looked at seven community colleges in seven states, looking at tests, textbooks and assignments given to first-year college students. Colleges were chosen at random and school size ranged from 3,000 to 30,000 students, according to Inside Higher Ed.
 
The study focused on popular career training programs offered by community colleges across the country, including accounting and business, automotive technology, criminal justice, early childhood education and information technology. Researchers focused on first-year students in these programs, and focus was placed on reading, writing and mathematics skills necessary to master these early college courses.
 
Lower Standards Still Not Met by Many Students
 
Researchers discovered that the bar set by college instructors in first-year courses was fairly low in terms of both reading and writing expectations. However, Education Week reports that many students are
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Recruiting: Bringing Youth To Community College Campuses
We look at the many opportunities teens and kids can explore the local community college campus, through college-sponsored classes, camps and other activities.
A community college campus is typically filled with adults of all ages, books, and backpacks in hand, moving from class to class. However, some community college campuses are adding a more youthful flavor to their ivied halls, with programs of all kinds designed for the younger set. Check out these innovative ways community colleges are giving younger students a taste of campus life, with special programs created just for them.
 
Science Olympiad Attracts Young Scientists
 
Mott Community College becomes a hot spot for young scientists every year when it hosts its annual Region V Science Olympiad. According to mLive, the event attracts middle and high school students from Livingston, Lapeer, Genesee, and Shiawassee. Students compete in a variety of events constructing machines, flying helicopters and designing robotics.
 
High school students participate during morning events, and middle schoolers compete in the afternoon session. Many of the events are open to the public, and the event draws a crowd of parents, teachers and interested community members. Students who come out on top in their events will advance to the state tournament of the Science Olympiad. The statewide event is to be held later this spring at Michigan University. There is also a national competition for those who do well in the state contests, which takes place at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, in May.
 
Budding Artists Find a Venue
 
Sussex County Community College finds a very different way to attract younger students from around the county. This New Jersey school is
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The Rise of International Students at Community College
We explore reasons behind the increasing number of international students at community colleges across the country and what those schools are doing to accommodate students from overseas.
Community colleges have been diversifying their student populations in recent years to include students from other states and even other countries. As some two-year schools become known for specific programs, transfer agreements with four-year institutions and even partnerships with local businesses, their appeal is expanding as well. International students interested in a U.S. community college may enjoy a number of benefits, but face unique challenges in making their higher education dreams a reality.
 
Why International Students Choose Community College
 
There are a number of reasons why international students are looking at community colleges today, according to a report at U.S. News, including:
  • Lower Tuition Rates – Students from a distance find affordable higher education through America’s community college system. For example, U.S. News and World Report cites the average cost of 24 credits from Diablo Community College in California at around $6,000, while the same number of credits at San Jose State University, a neighboring four-year school, is around $16,500 for the same number of credits.
  • Transfer Options – Many community colleges across the country now have transfer agreements with four-year schools, ensuring students that begin their education in a two-year program can finish their baccalaureate degree at a nearby institution.
  • Smoother Transition – Students coming from other countries often find community college is an easier transition to the American way of life. Many community colleges provide English language courses and other services to help international students adapt to a new language and culture.
  • Easier Requirements – For
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A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing to Attend Community Colleges
We perform an in-depth overview of the community college system, including their primary purpose, history, benefits, and their changing role in today’s society.
Community colleges are not a new addition to the world of higher education, but they have certainly received more attention in recent years. As the current administration strives to increase college graduation rates across the country, community colleges are primed to play an important role in meeting that goal. For adults looking for an effective way to make a career change, or high school seniors weighing all of their options in the next phase of their academic career, understanding the full picture of community college can be an important component in the planning process. What are community colleges and what is their primary purpose? Read on to learn the basics of these essential institutions of higher education.
 

What is a Community College?

According to the Department of Homeland Security, community college is a “two-year school that provides affordable postsecondary education as a pathway to a four-year degree.” These schools also offer industry specific training that helps graduates land jobs in the community directly after graduation. As the economy in the U.S. has changed in recent years, the quest for affordable, practical education has been on the rise. Community colleges tend to fit that bill to a “T” from trade-specific training to higher education that can stand alone or take the student directly into a four-year program.

Degrees offered by community colleges are typically associate degrees, which take two full years of coursework to complete. However, many certification and licensing programs may also be available through
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Recent Articles
To accommodate students' schedules, along with growing enrollment rates, community colleges are offering classes in the late evening. Learn more about why you may be taking midnight classes at a campus near you.
An interesting case arose this week over a community college student in North Carolina that posted a rant about a new campus policy on his Facebook page. The student was suspended for two semesters, but quickly reinstated amid a flurry of protests over his free speech rights.
We examine the advantages and disadvantages of using online classes to earn your two-year degree.
Choosing a School

Getting Started