The often-overlooked advantages of community colleges in the US

There’s a reason why the United States hosts the most foreign students in the world. From its internationally recognised schools and cultural diversity to the prestige of having a US-certified degree, the US is packed with tons of great opportunities for those looking to pursue their studies abroad. If you’re contemplating pursuing your higher education in the US, you have two kinds of HEIs (higher education institutions) to choose from: you could either attend a community college, which primarily caters to its surrounding community, or a university, which will most likely have a much larger community and campus. 

While many foreign students tend to be drawn to the traditional universities, studying at a community college actually has its own unique set of advantages — especially for foreign students. If you’re still trying to determine which kind of institution is best for you, here are some of the most significant advantages of studying at a community college that you should take note of. 


Across the board, community colleges offer much more affordable tuitions and fees. On average, the tuition at a community college is about half that of a public university. This is because community colleges get to avoid costs by having smaller campus infrastructure and extracurricular programs. Moreover, since most degrees at a community college only take two years to complete (whereas university degrees usually take four), foreign students can also save more or less two years’ worth of their living costs abroad. All this could make community colleges a much more practical option, especially now that so many students, domestic and international alike, are facing affordability crises due to rising inflation and widespread economic downturns. 

Holistic growth 

Many community colleges in the US are well-known for their commitment to supporting students not just academically, but also through mental health services, community services, language-learning, and small class sizes. Several student representatives who were interviewed for a recently released report by the IEE also shared that their community colleges would help them with their doctor visits, transportation, social security cards, and finding jobs on campus, among other things. 

Open access enrolment

Community colleges in the US usually offer open access enrolment, meaning that they are non-selective in their admission standards. Rather, they believe that everyone around the world should have access to high quality education, and thus welcome all members of a community. This open access movement among HEIs arrived at the same time as growing calls for the democratisation of higher education. According to the same IIE report, community colleges in the US often practice open access enrolment by helping them adapt to US education and culture with English language development and academic preparation. 

Stepping stone for students who want university degrees

After graduating from a community college, students have the option to transfer to a four-year university or college to complete an undergraduate degree. This is referred to as the “2+2+ model,” and is unique to the US higher education system. 

Attending a community college first gives students the chance to improve their overall grade point average (GPA) in case their grades weren’t the best in high school. It’s also a great way for them to focus on their general education classes so that they only need to worry about their major courses once they transfer to a four-year school. 

GSP community colleges in the US

Ultimately, there’s no one path to success when it comes to higher education in the US. But if you find that a community college is the best fit for you, reach out to GSP so that we can help you find the perfect one for your goals and needs. Here are just a couple of our most popular community college partners in the US:

  • Butte College, California – Taking pride in its state-of-the-art facilities, thriving student life, and quality instructors, Butte College enjoys a top four ranking in the state for offering a quality and affordable education. Its tuition only costs $270 per unit (plus enrollment and service fees), and it also offers various financial aid and scholarship opportunities for those who need the extra help. Butte’s campus also rests on a beautiful 928-acre wildlife refuge, making it one of the largest community college campuses in the state.
  • College Lake County (CLC), Illinois – Several CLC graduates have gone on to top universities in the US, including Northwestern, the University of Illinois, and even Harvard. This community college offers 40 transfer degree programs, 200 career certificate options, Guaranteed Transfer Admission, honours classes, financial aid, and more.
  • College of the Canyons (COC), California – Established in 1969, COC has developed a reputation for innovation, excellence, partnerships, and student success during its service to the community. It offers 242 associate degree and certificate programs, and apart from meeting the academic needs of its students, the college also plays a key role in developing the economy of its service area by generating about $4 million per year to provide training for thousands of employees and numerous local companies. 

If you’re interested in studying at a community college or would like to discover more options, don’t hesitate to contact our recruitment experts here at GSP. There’s a whole world of knowledge and experience waiting for you across the globe. 

In addition to meeting the academic needs of students seeking transfer and career technical education, the college also plays a key role in developing the economy of its service area. 

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