Community colleges are often overlooked in study abroad discussions. And yet, in the United States, more students attend community colleges than any other higher education sector.
However, international students enrolled at community colleges only account for approximately 10 percent of all international students enrolled at degree-granting higher education institutions in the US.
Perhaps local students know something that international students don’t?
If you’re an international student interested in the benefits of studying abroad, we think community college could be the perfect place to study - especially when your grades are modest or your budget is tight.
Here are 4 reasons why you should study abroad at community college:
1. You’ll be exposed to greater diversity
By design, community colleges are accessible to students of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. This "open door" policy means that you’ll be studying alongside real people from different walks of life.
As a result, community colleges are able to offer international students a richer, more diverse study abroad experience - one that maximises exposure to different ways of learning and working.
Coupled with specialized English language courses and tutoring services, community colleges also make for less intimidating environments from which international students can ease into a new language and culture.
2. You’ll stand out to potential employers
Many community colleges keep close ties with local industries. So employers often have a strong campus presence.
Candidates with global experience, who can communicate across language and cultural boundaries, are highly valued in today’s global job market. Many employers also look favorably on the initiative, determination, planning and multitasking you’ll have done just to study abroad.
This makes community college the perfect place for international students to meet potential employers, to find internships or to join workforce programs that might not be available at home.
3. You’ll enjoy more flexibility
Studying at community college is all about the options. Community colleges often cater to other priorities when scheduling classes. For example, many offer evening or weekend classes so that students aren't forced to choose between classes or work / family commitments.
In two short years, you could use your comprehensive degree or diploma as a catalyst for new or better job opportunities, or as kindling towards a bachelor's degree or other specialization - now or at some future point in time.
Or over a shorter, more intense period, you could complete one of various certificate courses or industry specific training programs designed to equip you with additional knowledge, skills, and experience.
For international students considering studying abroad at a community college, this high level of customization means more opportunities to fund your studies abroad through part-time work (subject to any visa restrictions that may apply).
You could also use the more generous schedules to plan longer trips, to visit sites located further from college and grow bonds with new friends between and around your study commitments.
4. It’s a good investment
Community college tuition fees are lower in absolute terms than at four-year institutions, even when out of state fees are factored in.
Community college not only costs less, but it offers you more. Community colleges routinely offer more personalized attention, smaller class sizes, better employment outcomes as well as more opportunities for blended learning.
That means lower student debt and a greater return on investment.
Together with all the other reasons we've highlighted, studying abroad at a community college makes for a hard-to-beat combination.
Planning on studying abroad at a community college?
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About the Author
Dean Ehrlich is a digital content editor at educations.com. He develops content to support product and site growth. Mainly from South Africa, he has also lived and studied in Botswana and France. He is currently based in Sweden after moving there to study abroad.