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Taking the Community College Path

Are you planning on studying abroad in the United States? Good news: Four-year colleges and universities aren’t your only option. Keep reading to learn more about community colleges. 

What are community colleges?

Also known as junior colleges, community colleges are two-year schools where you can earn an associate degree or complete a certificate program. You can also transfer from a community college to a four-year school to earn a bachelor’s degree. This means that credits you earn at a community college can be used at a four-year school. (It’s important to be aware that some credits may not transfer, but your advisor can help you plan if you want to transfer schools.) 

Many students opt to take their general education requirements (like English, history and math) at a community college before transferring to a four-year school, where they can take major-specific courses and complete their bachelor’s degree. Community colleges also tend to be more regional—typically, most non-international students are local. 

Community college advantages

Studying at a community college in the United States has multiple benefits for international students. First, they are often more affordable than four-year schools. Community colleges also tend to be smaller, which means smaller class sizes—and a more personalized experience for students. Also, many community colleges offer open-access admissions, meaning their admissions standards are non-selective, and most applicants are accepted.

Attending a community college can also be a good way to transition to living and studying in a new country. Most schools offer support for English-language learners and English courses, so you can improve your language skills while earning your associate degree or completing a certificate program. 

Visa status

In order to study abroad at a community college in the United States, you need to obtain a F-1 Student Visa. To get this visa, you must be a full-time student—if you are not studying full time, you will not be eligible for the visa. 

Start your journey

Take the next step toward studying abroad by registering for the TOEFL® Essentials™ test, the TOEFL iBT® test or TOEFL iBT Home Edition. And to hear more about studying abroad at a community college in the U.S., check out this interview with Jocelyn Paz, a Guatemalan student at Los Angeles City College (LACC)—a community college in California—and Darren Grosch, the dean of academic affairs at LACC. They give great insights into the educational system in the United States, the importance of taking TOEFL tests and prepping for them, what it’s like to study abroad in the United States and more. 

Accepted by 11,500+ institutions in more than 160 countries, the TOEFL iBT test is recognized as the gold standard of English-proficiency tests. Institutions trust TOEFL iBT scores because of the exam’s academic focus, established high standards of quality, and fair and unbiased scoring. Get more information about registering for the TOEFL iBT test here.

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Last update: 01 Nov 2022

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