What Are U.S. Community Colleges?

What Are U.S. Community Colleges?

August 23, 2019 8 By Stanley Isaacs


VIKTORIA KOLESNIKOVA: One of the
myths, I think, concerns the financial side. There is a conception, or a
perception, I guess, that United States education is quite
expensive and is not affordable and out of reach
for many students. So the two-year college system
actually helps to dispel that myth by providing outstanding
opportunities to cut the cost of the bachelor’s degree
in half, at least. So most two-year community
colleges would cost between $5,000 and $7,000 a year. And Foothill and De Anza
colleges right now are about $5,300 for a whole
year of tuition. And while you’re studying there
for two years, you’re completing for same courses of
major U.S. Universities, particularly those that are on
our articulation agreements — for example, UC Berkeley — or
even private instutitions, like University of Southern
California and Pepperdine, St. Mary’s, for example,
or Santa Clara. And you’re not paying
their tuition for the first two years. So when you transfer, you
receive course credit. But you’ve saved the difference
on the costs. And another interesting
characteristic is that there are more scholarships available
between second and third year while you can
already establish your academic performance. You participate in
extracurricular activites, which are plentiful at many
college campuses. You can build up your resume. And you already appear as a
well-rounded student with significant experience studying
in an American insitution. And you are then able to receive
more partial and sometimes full scholarships. It actually provides a wonderful
opportunity for a student to get a bachelor’s
degree, sometimes from a very prestigious university, while
not having to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars. So that’s probably one
of the most important myths that I hear. PAUL McVEIGH: It’s true that
community colleges in the United States are both technical
and vocational kinds of institutions. But the big difference from the
typical community college in other countries is
that they also have the transfer capacity. What I mean by that is that, a
student can start here, do the first two years of university
education, and then move on for the third and fourth year at
the university, attain the bachelor’s degree. Most community colleges have
articulation agreements with these institutions. So it’s a seamless process. And it’s the same degree
in the end. The difference, however,
is to the international students’ advantage. Because you get the associate
degree in the first two years, and you have a year of optional
practical training available to you. You get the second degree, the
bachelor’s degree, and you have another year of optional
practical training. So two work permits, you might
say, for two whole years in the United States. That student, with that
language ability and experience with the education,
going back to their homeland for work has terrific
opportunities that the student that stayed will never have.
So that’s one of many. The other, of course, is
the value proposition. They are much less expensive. NOVA is 1/3 the price of the
nearest university, which is a very good one. And that’s probably the
least expensive of the universities around. So already we’re talking
about one whole third of the tuition price. A community college has smaller
classes, teachers that are not preoccupied
with research. They are engaged with
the student, one-on-one most of the time. There are supportive student
services that help the students adapt to the
United States. And writing centers and tutors,
all which are free here, are what the student
can use to kind of help with their studies. So you’ve got student clubs,
as well, associations, so forth, that the student can,
here, become a better-prepared university student while they’re
at the community college, all for less expense. So that’s just part
of the picture. But I think it’s an
important part. PATRICIA GORDON: We have
international student counselors. They’re available for them
throughout their two years or if they’re here longer. We have a career counselor. And we have a transfer
counselor. And all the faculty, really,
are available. That’s the uniqueness of
a community college. The classrooms are small. The faculty are available. Students writing essays to
transfer to four-year schools, faculty, staff, counselors are
all available to advise them, review their essays. We have a writing center, also,
for just getting some help in writing essays. In student activities, if
students are eligible for the honor society, that offers
transfer scholarships. A lot of four-year universities
across the country offer scholarships for
Phi Theta Kappa members . Not all of them offer them for
F-1 status students, but there are some, like American
University that’ll offer $12,000 or $15,000
off tuition. Now, they are looking
at leadership. It’s competitive. They’re looking at community
service. Marymount University offers
$6,000 off for any Phi Theta Kappa member, including
international students. The largest scholarship
across the country is Jack Kent Cooke. And it’s very pretigious. There’s only 50. And last year, there was
only 30 given out. In the past four years, our
campus had three Jack Kent Cook scholars. And two of them have been
F-1 status students. And we have another
one nominated. We only nominate two
from the college. And we have another F-1 student
nominated this year, which we’re hoping wins it. So one of those students went to
Columbia University on the scholarship, which can
also carry them into graduate school. And another went to Georgetown
University. Not guaranteeing Jack Kent Cooke
scholarship, but we have faculty committees that will
work with these students on their essays and draw out
information and help them to present themselves
in the best way. So everyone at the campus
is available to them for information and support. KARIMA BEN AYED: In my case,
not necessarily. But definitely, by time, I found
out that it’s definitely an advantage for lots of
students, simply because there are specific agreements with
universities in the area which make it a bit easier for you
to be accepted right away. You don’t have to be on the
waiting list, in a way. At the same time, it also gives
you the security that, once you’re done with the
community college, you already at least have one or two
possibilities afterward. So it’s not like you’re
stuck somewhere. It’s definitely something
you can pursue. Personally, I felt like
it’s not that complex. I was surprised. I expected it to be
much more complex. And I think there is this kind
of image that it’s complex. I think the more complex part
of it is to take a decision where to go and to really have
an understanding why you want to go there. Once you have clarified that,
the next things to do are things to do. But it’s not as complex
as you may expect. VIKTORIA KOLESNIKOVA: I would
definitely recommend doing some research themselves on
different college websites. And if students are considering
a community college option but are choosing
between different colleges, if they’re interested
in a bachelor’s degree and the transfer option,
I would look at the scope of their agreements with
transfer universities. That you can most often either
find on the website or contact the transfer center at each
college or contact the international office, who may
have that information to share with specific focus on
international students. For example, there may be some
agreements with transfer universities that apply to
international students and additional scholarships for
international students. That would be an important
consideration to see which agreements exist, which
prestigious universities come to the campus to organize
visits and workshops. Because you want to know how
many options you will have when you graduate from
and to your system. So I would look at the transfer
center activity, the transfer center resources, and
the scope of the relationship. Another point of consideration
would be the academic side and the connection to the
industry and the location of the college. Community colleges very often
work very closely with industry and companies,
developing customized programs, offering the
latest technologies. So if you’re interested in one
of those areas, I would definitely recommend looking
at the location — Silicon Valley, for example, Southern
California for, maybe, film industry — to see how many
companies are around there and what’s the scope of the collaboration with the college.