If you’re looking to build transfer credits, gain relevant career training, or attend a few college classes for fun, community college can help you achieve your educational goals. Community college is an affordable option for school students who can’t cover the tuition cost of a four-year school. If you’ve just begun your school search, you’re probably wondering how to get into community college.
In this article, we’ll give you tips for securing admission into community colleges that offer affordable tuition costs, career development, professional training, transfer programs, and even online courses. You’ll learn about community college admission requirements, as well as how difficult it is to get into community college.
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How Difficult Is It to Get Into Community College?
Gaining admission into a community college is easier than gaining admission into a university. Some community college students are able to find a school with a 100 percent admission guarantee. However, just because the admissions policies are more favorable, doesn’t mean community college classes have worse educational value or teach fewer career skills.
Community colleges are a solid option for students. Community college courses still have to meet the same academic requirements as those offered by traditional colleges and universities. Although the requirements and chances of admission may differ from school to school, here are some common community college requirements to prepare you for your application process.
Common Community College Requirements
- Age Requirement. Most community colleges require students to be at least 18 years old. There are exceptions for applicants who demonstrate advanced academic skill. Some colleges provide opportunities for students who are 16 years old interested in taking select college classes or who want to gain a college education on a part-time basis.
- Academic Requirement. Most community college applications ask for a high school diploma or an equivalent certificate to prove your academic performance. Some popular alternative certificates include a GED, SAT, or ACT. Some community colleges have certain education requirements, such as a high GPA. Poor grades causing below a 2.00-grade point average might affect your application.
- Transfer Student Requirement. Students from any language schools, colleges, or universities in the US who would like to obtain their associate degree or continue their academic career at a community college will most likely need to apply using official transcripts from their previous schools. Most colleges provide advisors to help with the admission process.
- Trade Student Requirement. Apprentices, who don’t have a high school diploma or any other equivalent certificate can contact the admissions office for placement testing and additional admissions criteria. Placement tests can be used to judge the competence of an applicant who doesn’t meet certain admissions requirements. These students generally apply to technical programs.
- International Student Requirement. Applicants from outside the US who want to earn college credit at a community college may need to apply with their English transcripts or certificates in IELTS, TOEFL, or Cambridge in addition to a school transcript. Some schools also demand F-1 visa information from international applicants before registration.
- Additional Requirements. Some additional steps you may need to complete, depending on the school or program type you’re applying to, can include providing recommendations or a portfolio. You may be asked to agree to file a background check or to drug screening, especially if you’re enrolling in a school of health science.
How to Get Accepted Into Community College: A Step-by-Step Guide
Below are the major steps you’ll need to follow to successfully enroll in a community college. These steps may differ slightly depending on the school and program you’re applying to, but those listed detail the most likely factors you’ll encounter during your community college application process.
Step 1: Make Preliminary Research
Every college is unique. As a prospective college student, you’ll need to conduct in-depth research about the schools you’re interested in to determine whether or not you stand a chance at being accepted. Review their entry requirements, taking into account the program you’re applying to and your prior academic records to see if you’re the right fit.
Your search will tell you what conditions you need to meet to be admitted as a full-time, part-time, or conditional student. This should also tell you which documents you’ll need to provide to secure your admission. Some schools don’t accept students with bad grades, so make sure your academic record is what the admissions committee is looking for.
Step 2: Complete an Onsite or Online Application
Once you’ve narrowed down your school of choice, the next step is to submit an online or onsite application, depending on what the school requires. Your application form may likely contain your personal information and academic history. Some schools may request your home residency details or social security number as part of the process.
Some colleges practice open admission, also known as a 100 percent admission rate, although this is mostly for unspecialized programs. If your goal is to apply for a legal or medical program, you may have to go through a selective admission process.
Step 3: Provide Educational Credentials
As part of your enrollment, you’ll need to submit your educational qualifications. There are cases when some of the required credentials can be waived or substituted. This depends on whether you’re accepted as a regular student or a conditional student.
Your educational qualifications include copies of your transcripts, diplomas, national test score reports for SATs and ACTs, and transfer credits. These documents are some of the factors considered by the admissions team when evaluating a student’s college preparedness and basic study skills.
Step 4: Provide Non-Educational Credentials
You may also be asked to provide your visa, passport, resume, work portfolio, and recommendation letters from your principal or mentor as part of your credentials for enrollment, although this isn’t true for most programs. Those applying to health or teaching programs may need to provide a Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) certificate, child abuse registry check, and Basic Life Support (BLS) certification.
You can get a BLS or CPR certification from the American Heart Association and American Red Cross Society. Child abuse registry checks are done through the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
Step 5: Take A Placement Test
Placement tests are assessment tests offered in courses like math and English to determine the overall academic knowledge or specific skill level of an applicant. Placement exams are issued after the student has been admitted into the school. However, failure to participate in an authorized placement test may lead to the loss of admission.
These placement tests are used to determine a student’s capacity to succeed in a specific program. Your program of choice may need to complete a placement test. Some schools allow you to take the test more than once. You might also qualify for a placement test waiver depending on your situation.
Step 6: Complete Any Additional Steps
Once you’ve been accepted into a program, you’ll need to attend an onboarding session, pay for tuition, and meet your college advisor to register for classes. Luckily, if you’re a resident of your school’s state, you’ll most likely enjoy lower tuition than students from out of state.
Some colleges provide financial aid programs to help students to pay for their education. You can immediately apply for FAFSA as soon as you gain admission into the school. Otherwise, you can apply for college scholarships, bursaries, or student loans.
How to Choose the Right Community College
The first step to choosing the right community college is deciding where you want to go to school and what you want to study. If you wish to go to school in California, start by searching through the best community colleges in California, then do some research to see if they offer the program you want.
Some of the factors you should consider when researching a school are the availability of your desired certificate or degree program, the student to faculty ratio, cost of tuition, quality of student services, class sizes, and what kind of career training they provide. You can also consider attending an online community college.
Top Tips for Getting Into Community College
- Make a College Checklist. Every school has a target demographic. They hope to attract a specific kind of student, so you should do the same in return. Make a list of the things your college should have including your preferred college location, tuition, career services, and facilities. This will help you narrow down your search.
- Apply to More Than One School. To increase your chances of being accepted into a good college, apply to more than one school. This is more crucial if you’re planning on studying in a program without guaranteed acceptance. These are programs in a specialized discipline such as nursing or criminal justice, which often require you to take a placement test.
- Send In Your Application Early On. Don’t wait until you’ve got a month before the deadline to start sending in applications. Sending in your application early helps you plan better, especially if you have to travel or source money for your college fund. Most community colleges provide acceptance within a few hours to a few days of submitting your application.
- Prepare for Placement Tests Before Taking Them. Don’t underestimate these placement tests. Try your best to prepare for them, especially if your school of choice doesn’t provide opportunities for you to retake the exam. Some colleges provide sample tests for students to practice with. You can also practice for placement tests on platforms like CollegeBoard, Test Prep Review, or Khan Academy.
- Take Advantage of Financial Aid. Keep an eye out for colleges offering college scholarships to students as well as federal grants so that you can substantially reduce your college cost. Check out the United States Department of State’s EducationUSA for a great list of schools offering financial aid programs.
Will I Get Accepted Into Community College?
Yes, you will. As long as you take advantage of the advice above, you will be accepted into your dream college. If for some reason you’re not accepted, there are many alternatives to attending a community college.
You can turn to career-oriented programs like a coding bootcamp to launch your career, especially if you are interested in working in the tech field. Coding bootcamps offer benefits like mentorships, career guidance, and even job placements.
Is Getting Into Community College Worth It?
Yes, getting to community college is worth it for many reasons. It’s a great way to cut down on the cost of attending college, build transfer credits, receive focused career training, and access a wide selection of course options. Community colleges offer more flexible classes, making it easier to work during your studies.
With a community college degree, you can access more job opportunities. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2020, community college graduates with associate degrees earn a median salary of $938 weekly, which amounts to $3,752 monthly, and $45,024 a yearly.
How to Get Into Community College FAQ
Under America’s College Promise Act of 2021, community colleges are free for college students who are also residents of that state. The Department of Education provides up to 75 percent of the total cost of tuition and fee per student. This makes them much more affordable than the traditional four-year school.
No, they don’t require scholastic assessment tests (SAT) from students. However, you’re not restricted from providing it as proof of your academic competence. Most of these colleges offer open admissions and those who offer selective admission still don’t demand SAT. Your high school diploma or GED should be enough to get you accepted.
No, not all community colleges have a 100 percent acceptance rate. The rate of acceptance varies from college to college. If you come across colleges like Colorado Mountain College with a 100 percent acceptance rate, it means that they have an open admission policy, meaning any applicant is automatically granted admission.
The education a four-year college provides is better in most cases because the degrees you can earn from them usually lead to a higher salary, higher career growth rate, and more industry recognition. Four-year colleges and universities usually offer more specialized courses than community colleges. These educational institutions provide more scholarships and financial aid programs than community colleges.
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