Community College

Community colleges – also know as junior colleges – provide associate degrees, professional certificates, and even non-credit classes in life skills. Most community college programs serve as a foundation to other higher degrees and are typically completed in 2 years or less. Community colleges can be a economical way to receive college credits for general education courses required by most bachelors degrees, e.g. math and English, or to complete remedial classes for those who are not ready for the academics at a university.

Many community colleges partner with local universities to get pre-approved for transferring credits to a a 4-year degree program. Additionally, many high schools provide dual credit (i.e. high school and college credit) for college level courses taken in high school.

Who should consider attending a community college?

  • Students who would like to work in a career that only requires an associate’s degree
  • Students who aren’t sure what they want to major in
  • Students who need remedial work in math or English
  • Students who are intent on attending an in-state university, but would like to save money by completing their generals at a community college before transferring to the state university (keep in mind that it is often harder to be accepted as a transfer student than a high school senior. See Transfer Students: 8 Things You Need to Know)

Typical Programs

  • Associate degrees for entry-level support positions (see the Glossary of Associate Degree Programs)
  • Remedial liberal arts, e.g. math, English, science
  • Specialty certificates and continuing education for professionals
Pros Cons
  • Lower cost
  • Less time required to complete degree (most A.A. or certificates are 2-year programs)
  • Open enrollment (generally only require a diploma or GED)
  • Usually do not have on-campus housing
  • Most programs only award certificates or associate degrees
  • An increasing number of jobs are requiring a Bachelor’s degree. Technical schools are a better bet for two-year programs.
Tip: Get Free Credits in High School
Check to see if you high school offers dual-enrollment classes or a post-secondary education option (PSEO), which will enable you to receive college credit while in high school. Dual-enrollment classes are typically taken at your high school, whereas PSEO enables you to take actual college classes on the college campus.
See our High School Checklists for how to prepare for community college while in high school.