What is a Community College?

A community college is a two-year school that provides reasonably priced higher education and is a pathway to a four-year degree. Many international students are attending community colleges for the first time and are curious about what it is called in the United States.

In the U.S., a community college is a two-year school that students can attend after high school to study and save money before transferring to a four-year university. One of the most popular benefits of attending a community college is that it is much less expensive than a 4-year university.

Community college, also known as a junior college, is a great place to start your education. They offer certificates and degrees that allow students to enter the workforce faster than a 4-year university. They give you the same opportunities as a 4-year college at half the cost. 

What are the Differences Between Community Colleges and Universities?

Community colleges offer associate degrees, which are typically less expensive than four-year degrees. Many students apply to community colleges as a way to “test the waters” and see if they can succeed in a more competitive academic environment.

Aside from the type of degree, community college and four-year college differences lie in programs and population.

If you’re worried about going to a four-year school because it might cost too much, consider a community college. It’s a great way to explore your options and learn how to fit in at a university before making such a big commitment.

It is a school that grants associate’s degrees and certificates. 

Community colleges are usually commuter schools and do not have housing for students. Almost all of them are open access, which means almost anyone who applies is accepted. 

Small class sizes, affordability, convenience, and faculty who are focused on teaching – as opposed to research – are often cited as the main benefits of attending a community college. It provides that good, affordable option in higher education. 

Community College Requirements

These are a great choice for students who want to work and earn their associate’s degree.

The classes typically offer more flexible class times, allowing students to work while attending school. 

  • Earn a high school diploma or GED 
  • Take a school required placement test such as the ACT, SAT, or ACCUPLACER 
  • Fill out a college application 
  • Submit proof of residency 
  • Apply for financial aid (if necessary) 
  • Complete new student orientation 
  • Register and pay for courses 

Community College Examples

Community colleges are unique institutions that enroll about 12% of undergraduate students in The United States. Students attend top community colleges for a variety of reasons, not least because they cost less than four-year institutions.

Additionally, they often partner with universities, allowing students to easily transfer credits and earn a bachelor’s degree. 

The best community colleges also prepare graduates to begin working in their respective fields sooner, which appeals to nontraditional learners or those with professional responsibilities.

Students who choose this route can also acquire professional experiences and establish themselves within organizations sooner than students who earn four-year degrees. 

Do you reside in Canada? Here are 13 Best Community Colleges in Canada 2022

Top 10 Community Colleges In The United States

#1 Walla Walla Community College


Walla Walla Community College is a full–service, open-access college with courses in academic transfer education, professional/technical education, transitional studies, and extended learning. 

We offer over 250 academic courses each semester and have a current annual enrollment of over 13,000 new, returning, and international students.

With a current annual enrollment of over 13,000 new, returning students and international students, Walla Walla Community College offers courses in Academic Transfer Education, Professional/Technical Education, and Transitional Studies. 

#2 Santa Barbara City College


SBCC is a community college in Santa Barbara, California that serves south coast residents. It offers more than 50 certificate programs and 80 degrees, with an average class size of 28. 

The junior college has an enrollment of 20,000 students, of which 7,500+ are full–time. 57% of full–time students at SBCC transfer to four-year colleges; more than half of those ultimately earn a bachelor’s degree. 

Agreements with 76 colleges (in and out of California) guarantee that SBCC credits are accepted for transfer; several schools ensure admission if a student meets academic requirements. 

The college’s Transfer Achievement Program helps students make informed decisions in their planning for the transition from SBCC to a four-year university. 

#3 Lake Area Technical Institute


Lake Area Technical Institute is in Watertown, South Dakota. Lake Area Tech has 29 study programs and 11 E–degrees. The junior college serves more than 1,700 full–time, part-time and online students. 

The school boasts low tuition costs and a 99% graduate placement rate. The first–time, full–time LATI students graduate or transfer to a four–year college within three years; the national average is 40 percent. 

76 percent of LATI graduates recently averaged 40 percent in earnings than other new hires in the area. 

Read: Salt Lake Community College Tuition: Scholarship, Acceptance Rate & Cost of Living in 2022

#4 East San Gabriel Valley

Regional Occupational Program & Technical Center WEST COVINA, CA 

East San Gabriel Valley ROP/TC is one of 72 regional occupational programs (ROPs) in the state of California. 

It focuses on practical, hands-on career preparation and career guidance while providing high school and adult students with the technical skills required for specific jobs. 

Most of the classes offer community–based internships, in local business and industry sites. 

#5 New Mexico Military Institute


New Mexico Military Institute is a state-supported, coeducational, military boarding school in The United States. It offers a college preparatory, four–year high school, and a two–year junior college. One of only six military junior colleges in the U.S.

New Mexico Military Institute’s organization and architecture are based on Virginia Military Institute. The campus encompasses 40 acres of land, including an 18–hole golf course.

Students at New Mexico Military Institute are referred to as “cadets” and the school averages 975 cadets, 95 percent of whom go on to four–year universities. 

You can learn more about New Mexico Military Institute by visiting their website or watching their video above to see what a day in the life of an NMMI cadet is like. 

Central Virginia residents are not left out. Here are Central Virginia Community College: Acceptance Rate, Admission, Courses, Tuition, & Aid

#6 North Central Kansas Technical College


North Central Kansas is a technology school, offering degree and certificate programs. The main campus is in Beloit, KS and the branch campus is in Hays, KS. 

Graduates have an outstanding reputation for job placement with salaries comparable to graduates from 2 year and 4-year colleges. 

#7 Valencia College


Valencia College is Florida’s largest institution of higher education and the country’s most outstanding community college. It offers more than 60 non–degree certificates and has a diverse student population. 

Valencia ranks first among the U.S.’s two–year colleges for the total associate’s degrees awarded and its graduation rate is triple the national average of other two–year colleges. 

#8 Snow College


Snow College is a two-year state college located in rural Ephraim, Utah, about 120 miles south of Salt Lake City.

The college has two campuses: the main campus in Ephraim and another campus in Richfield. It serves a six-county area in Utah. 

If you reside in Bay Area, here are Top 10 Community Colleges In Bay Area | 2022 Ranking

#9 Saint Paul College


Saint Paul College (SPSC) is a community and technical college located in St. Paul, Minnesota. The school was established in 1910 and has about 10,000 full–time and part-time students.

SPSC provides courses and programs related to technology, business, health, trades, and industry.

The Power of YOU scholarship program is available to qualified students who graduate from Saint Paul or Minneapolis public schools. Student Life at SPSC provides many social, wellness, educational, and cultural services and opportunities for students. 

#10 Mayland Community College


Mayland Community College is located in Spruce Pine, North Carolina. It operates the Avery Learning Center in Newland, North Carolina, and the Yancey Learning Center in Burnsville, North Carolina. 

It is part of the North Carolina Community College System. 

The college offers 35 programs. Students can pursue an Associate in Arts, an Associate in Fine Arts, or an Associate in Science degree. 

How to Choose a Community College?

If you’re interested in pursuing a college degree but are put off by the thought of hefty tuition rates, community colleges might be the perfect fit for you. While you may have to commute, you’ll get a lower rate than if you were to go to a traditional four-year institution. 

Still, want the college experience? Consider applying to a community college that offers on-campus housing packages. With larger campuses comes more networking opportunities, and with smaller campuses comes more opportunities to network with your professor. 

With the right college, you can complete an associate’s degree and transfer those credits to your university of choice. The best part? You won’t spend a fortune to do it.” 

Do you live in New jersey? This is an information you need. Community Colleges in New Jersey and their Tuition Fees

Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between community college and regular college?

The main difference between a community college and a university is that most degrees at a community college only take two years to complete, while degrees at a four-year university take four years to complete. Instead, community colleges award certificates and associate degrees. 

What is exactly a community college?

Community colleges, sometimes called junior colleges, are two-year schools that provide affordable postsecondary education as a pathway to a four-year degree. Open access to postsecondary education. Preparation for transfer to four-year college or university 

Is community college as good as a university?

Community colleges today have quality academic programs that prepare you for career certificates or a future transfer to a four-year university. Even if you want to get a four-year degree, starting at a community college can save money and give you a boost in your academic career. 

Is it bad to go to a community college?

Going to community college is not bad. There can be great benefits to attending a community college. One of the biggest advantages is saving money. The cost of community college is significantly less than most universities. 

Are community colleges free?

When community college is described as “free,” it generally means there are no tuition costs to take courses. However, you should be mindful of the additional costs (not generally covered by the state) associated with attendance, including transportation costs, living expenses, textbooks, and supplies 

Why does community college have a bad reputation?

Because their completion rates are low and the faculty tend to be weaker than those at 4-year institutions. Because professors at four-year colleges belittle them, and the Pavlovian response of students is mimic the attitudes of the professors. 

Does community college have dorms?

Most community colleges in the United States do not offer on-campus housing for students. These institutions were established primarily to provide low-cost education for students who commute from their homes. 


There are about 8 million students that attend community college each year. Students attend top community colleges for a variety of reasons, not least because they cost less than four-year institutions. 

Additionally, community colleges often partner with universities, allowing students to easily transfer credits and earn a bachelor’s degree. If you are passionate about learning while you earn, you should probably give a community college a try. 



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