5 Reasons to Go to Community College First

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As an international student, attending a community college first before enrolling in a four-year institution may be a better option. ISV Ambassador, Da Hyun Kim explains why.

As international students, we have so many things to prepare for. The biggest one finding a school that will help you accomplish your educational goal. If you have graduated from a secondary school from your country, you will probably want to go to either a university or community college to get a higher degree. Can you distinguish the difference between a community college and a university?

  • Community college basically offers one or two-year degree programs, such as a certificate or associate’s degree
  • University offers programs to earn a bachelor’s master’s, and PhD

 A student who directly going to a university does not necessarily mean that person is smart.

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In America, community college students can be a non- traditional students, full time workers, or high-schoolers who take college classes that are equivalent for high school credits. The main goal of most university students is graduating minimally with a B.A. degree.

However, as international students, we are like a toddler who is learning a new language and culture as soon as landing in America. 

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Most international students come to the America to learn English, have better opportunities, and learn about the country’s culture. And yes, these were also my goals when I came to the U.S.A. My country, South Korea, has different perceptions looking at community college so I was reluctant to start my new journey at this type of school. I thought it would be not cool.

Well, guess what! I am writing this article to tell you why it’s super beneficial for international students to choose a community college!

Because the community college is literally best!!

I have FIVE reasons to explain why going to a community college is better choice than going to a university to study abroad.

 international student voice magazine_cc the best


1. Community College is cheap, inexpensive, and CHEAP!!

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My average tuition at a community college is about $3,000 per term (or even cheaper). Saving money never is wrong!!


2. America offers 2+2 program

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2+2 program is famous educational curriculum. As well, it’s a smart choice. You can TRANSFER to a four-year university. This means the credits you earned at the community college will transfer to the university. You come to the university as junior (third year student). So you can spend the first two years at a community college taking classes for less money and then transfer to a four-year university. Those credits will count toward a bachelor’s degree. Yes, you can save A LOT of money by spending your first two years at community college!!

**ADVICE: If you are thinking about this option, be sure to do your homework. While most credits from a community college will transfer to a four-year university, CHECK IN ADVANCE. Especially if you plan to transfer to another university in a different state. Sometimes the credits will not be accepted.


2. The classes are smaller

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You have more chances to interact with classmates and instructors! Your voice is more likely to be heard because the teacher can actually see you! From my experience, a smaller campus has a friendly environment that helps international students adjust to American culture.


3. You will have a lot of support from your peers, international student advisors and school.

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Students at a community college will have easier access to the friendly and supportive staffs/advisors. What’s more? They will even remember you the next time they see you and will start a conversation, “HI! How is your term going?”


4.  Oh, it’s not only advisors who will remember you, but also your classmates.

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A university already has thousands of students, so the American students don’t get curious of where you are from as much as the students at a community college do. For example: It’s like the short period of attention your friend had when she got the the new iPhone 4s. She had been the center of the attention, but now that the iPhone 4s is common and there are better devices such as 5, and 5s or galaxy’s, now you’re friend is not the superstar anymore!


5.You can take time figuring out your major, future and getting to know others!

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Many international students come to United States without assurance of what they want to do. But it’s totally normal that you don’t know yet. By attending a community college, you have the opportunity to explore interest that you were not aware of.

For example, I came to U.S. when I was just 18. I had no clue about what I want to do for the rest of my life. Therefore, I went to a community college and started to take all classes such as business, art, and world religions. I also joined several clubs such as Green Team and International Club. After couple of years, I realized that I was interested and happy when I learn about diverse cultures and politics, so I chose my major as international studies!

What’s more? You even save money at the same time taking general requirement classes for an associate degree, such as writing, reading and communication. A student can try many others things to figure out what he/she wants to do for a career. Also, you can switch your major easily.  All you need to do is talk to your international student advisor to change the major on your I-20.

I came to Portland Community College in fall 2011. Did I hesitate to come to community college? Yes I did. I was afraid that I wouldn’t have a good educational support. Do I still regret of my choice? No,No!NO!! I am actually glad that I came to PCC instead of any other English academic institute or university. There are way more reasons to back up my thought but I made it brief for you all! I hope this can be helpful for your great American Dream.

If you would like to search for a community college in the U.S., visit the Community College Finder provided by the American Association of Community Colleges.


Da Hyun KimDa Hyun Kim, South Korea

ISV Ambassador

Portland Community College

Portland, Oregon



*All .GIFS courtesy of BuzzFeed.

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