How to Enroll in Community College (2023)

How to Enroll in Community College (1)

Timothy Peck7College Application Tips,College Lists

What’s Covered:

  • FAQs About Applying to Community College
  • How is community college different?
  • What kind of degrees are available at community colleges?
  • How to Enroll in Community College

From offering an affordable college option to providing a place to bolster grades and improve profiles, community colleges provide an abundance of opportunities to students. The majority of community colleges have open admissions, which means they accept nearly everyone, and enrolling is done as easily as three simple steps.

FAQs About Applying to Community College

Is admission to community college competitive?

Most community colleges have open admission policies through which almost everyone who applies is accepted. Normally the primary requirement for enrolling in community college is having earned a high school diploma or GED certificate. That said, it’s not unheard of for more in-demand programs at community colleges to practice more selective admissions.

Is applying to community college difficult?

The process of applying to community colleges is generally easier than that of four-year institutions, as they typically don’t require students to submit standardized test scores, compose essays, submit letters of recommendation, or meet GPA standards to gain admissions.

Do community colleges have any testing requirements?

(Video) How To Apply To Community College The Right Way!

It’s common for community colleges to require students to take placement tests in subjects such as math, reading, and writing before enrolling. Schools use the results of these exams to determine the academic preparedness of students. Depending on a student’s performance, they might have the option of skipping introductory courses or may need to take remedial classes to improve their college readiness.

When should I apply to community college?

The majority of community colleges practice rolling admissions—meaning they accept applications year-round—and don’t have the firm deadlines common at four-year colleges and universities.

Can I receive financial aid at a community college?

In general, the same financial aid that is available to four-year college students is available to two-year college students, including Pell Grants, state and institutional aid, and federal student loans.

Not only is financial aid available to community college students, but in many cases, students can obtain a community college education for free. According to the Community College Research Center (CCRC), 41% of full-time public two-year college students pay no tuition or receive money to cover other expenses and another 12% pay something, but less than $1,000.

Can I attend community college part-time?

It’s very common at community colleges to take just one or two courses at a time. In fact, according to the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), 66% of community college students attend part-time.

Can I attend community college outside of my home district or state?

(Video) How to Apply to Community College-Step by Step

Typically, community colleges don’t have any geographical restrictions about where students can come from. That said, students usually choose the most convenient community college—it helps avoid added costs like out-of-state tuition and the need for room and board.

How is community college different?

Types of Degrees Offered

Customarily, community colleges offer two-year (associate’s) degrees and certificates while traditional colleges and universities offer four-year (bachelor’s) degrees along with even more intensive master’s and doctoral degrees. Associate’s degrees can provide access to career paths on their own or lay the foundation for earning a four-year degree.

A popular strategy for cutting college costs is for students to complete their general education requirements (gen eds) at a two-year school before transferring to a four-year institution. Most students at four-year colleges and universities spend their first two years fulfilling their gen eds and then moving on to classes in their major.

Tuition Costs

As a rule, community college is more affordable than traditional four-year colleges and universities. According to the Education Data Initiative, the average cost of community college attendance is $7,460, while the average cost of a four-year college is $35,551.

College Experience

Four-year colleges and universities usually provide a more robust college experience, with students living on campus, a multitude of student organizations, and competitive athletics.

That said, many community colleges offer vibrant campuses. According to AACC, a little more than a quarter of community colleges feature on-campus housing (although only about 1% of community college students live on campus), with many of them providing numerous athletic opportunities, clubs, and facilities that enhance the college experience.

(Video) How to Apply to College | How to College | Crash Course

Class Size

The class size of community colleges is small compared to the often large and crowded gen ed classes that are a hallmark of the first two years of four-year college students—crowded lecture halls and packed auditoriums are an oddity at community colleges.


Because community colleges cater to commuters and non-traditional students, they tend to offer more flexible schedules than traditional four-year institutions—whether it’s part-time, evening, hybrid, or online class options.

What kind of degrees are available at community colleges?

Community colleges primarily award associate’s degrees and certificates. Associate’s degrees are normally awarded when a student completes 60-semester units or 90-quarter units. There are three main types of associate’s degrees, each of which puts students on slightly different paths:

  • Associate of Arts (AA) provides a foundation of general education and career skills and is used to either continue on in a bachelor’s program or to enter the workforce.
  • Associate of Science (AS) is similar to an associate of arts, however, it focuses more on science, math, and technology. Much like an AA, AS recipients either go on to four-year degree programs or directly enter the labor force.
  • Associate of Applied Science (AAS) focuses on providing career-specific skills and preparing students for immediate entry into a career.

Associate’s degrees are available across a broad spectrum of fields ranging from the arts to high tech. Popular associate degrees include:

  • Liberal arts and sciences
  • Nursing
  • Business administration and management
  • Computer science
  • Biological sciences
  • Criminal justice
  • Accounting
  • Radiologic technology
  • Psychology
  • Information technology

Community colleges also often provide a variety of non-degree programs that award certificates. These programs can last anywhere from weeks to months or between 12 and 36 credits and are focused on specific skills and fields. Certificates are available in fields such as:

  • Accounting
  • Athletic administration
  • Computer programming
  • Human resources management
  • Massage therapy

Community college is also a launch pad for four-year colleges and universities. Transferring from a two-year school to a four-year institution is becoming an increasingly popular and cost-effective strategy for many students. Many states even have agreements in place or established pathways for moving from community college to a four-year degree program.

For example, the University of California System’s transfer admission guarantee (TAG) program ensures admission of qualifying students at six of its nine campuses (Davis, Irvine, Merced, Riverside, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz).

(Video) Step by Step Application Process for USA Community College

Similarly, Massachusetts’ MassTransfer program ensures the transfer of a minimum of 60 credits to students who complete an associate’s degree at a Massachusetts community college and enroll in a bachelor’s program at Massachusetts state universities or a University of Massachusetts campus—qualifying students may also receive guaranteed admission or discounted tuition.

How to Enroll in Community College

1. Find Community Colleges

Comparatively, enrolling in community college is straightforward in relation to the majority of four-year schools thanks to their nearly 100% acceptance rates, minimal requirements, and rolling admissions. However, it’s still important to research your community college options.

A few important considerations when deciding what community college to enroll in are location, program offerings, and flexibility.

  • Location: Selecting a school that’s close to either home or work makes it easier to attend class and take advantage of on-campus resources, and allows you to spend more time on your studies and less time traveling back and forth to school.
  • Programs: Search the community college’s website and speak to an admissions officer to make sure the program you’re interested in is available.
  • Flexibility: If you have unique schedule challenges, make sure the school offers the classes you need when you’re available. For example, if you work a full-time job during the day, you’ll want to make sure the courses you’re interested in are available at night, on the weekend, or online.

CollegeVine can help you find community colleges in your state. Our free Schools Hub allows you to search schools using a variety of filters, program length, location, and even whether or not they have a D1 football program.

2. Create an Account and Complete Application

Most community colleges have their own online applications which require creating an account. Compared to the intense applications used by many four-year schools (e.g., the Common App and Coalition App) the process is relatively easy and generally requires submitting basic personal information like your name, address, and where you attended high school.

3. Provide Academic Information

Different schools have different requirements for admission, however, most community colleges will want you to submit your high school transcript and present your high school diploma or GED. More competitive programs—like nursing—may also require you to submit SAT/ACT scores.

4. Proof of Residency

Because community college is often more expensive for out-of-district and out-of-state students, a common requirement is to provide proof of residency. A driver’s license, vehicle registration, voter registration, or tax return will typically satisfy the requirement.

5. Submit a FASFA

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) tells colleges that you’re interested in receiving financial aid and makes you eligible for federal grants, work-study programs, and student loans. According to the AACC, one in five community college students doesn’t apply for federal financial aid, and about one-third don’t apply for any financial aid. Don’t miss this excellent opportunity and make sure to fill out the FASFA.

Unlike the rolling deadlines of most community colleges, the FASFA normally opens on October 1 and closes on June 30—funding and grants are limited, so submit your FASFA early to ensure you don’t miss out on any valuable aid.

(Video) Steps to Enrolling at Prince George's Community College

6. Take Placement Tests

Many community colleges demand that students take placement tests before enrolling. These tests don’t affect whether you get into the school or not, rather, they’re used to determine what academic level you’re at. In some cases, schools will waive placement tests if a student provides satisfactory standardized test scores.

7. Meet with an Advisor

Sitting down with an advisor can provide you with a bounty of valuable information and ensure you’re on the proper academic path. Your academic advisor can help make sure you take the right classes to meet your goals, whether it’s earning an associate’s degree or progressing to a four-year college. They can also provide insight into campus culture—sharing information about interesting clubs or available support services.

8. Sign Up for Classes

The final step in enrolling in community colleges is to sign up for classes. After that, all there is to do is hit the books and start making your academic dreams a reality.


How to Enroll in Community College? ›

what are Community college requirements? Community colleges don't require essays or SAT scores. They just need your high school diploma, basic information about you, and some proof of residency to qualify for discounted tuition.

Do you need to write an essay for community college? ›

what are Community college requirements? Community colleges don't require essays or SAT scores. They just need your high school diploma, basic information about you, and some proof of residency to qualify for discounted tuition.

How to apply for American Community College? ›

How to apply?
  1. The college's application form.
  2. Their application fee.
  3. Your high school diploma translated to English.
  4. A copy of your passport.
  5. Proof that you can finance your studies.
  6. Proof that you have the required English level, for example a TOEFL or IELTS test.

What is the difference between a community college and a university? ›

The main difference between community colleges is that universities offer four-year bachelor's degrees and graduate and doctoral-level degree programs.

How many colleges can you apply early decision to? ›

You can apply early decision to only 1 college. If the college accepts you and offers enough financial aid, you must go to that college. That's why these plans are referred to as “binding.” Some colleges have 2 early deadlines, called early decision deadline I and early decision deadline II.

Is it too late to apply for college? ›

So no, it's not too late to apply to college. Some schools have late application deadlines, others have rolling admission timelines, and some have last-minute unfilled seats in their freshman class. With these options, you won't have to worry about trying to submit a late college application.

How long is an essay in community college? ›

College essays are usually pretty short: between 150 and 650 words. Admissions officers have to read a lot of them, after all! Weigh your words carefully, because they are limited!

Is community college free in the US? ›

Some community colleges in the United States offer free tuition, but the vast majority are not free. As of 2022, 20 states provide tuition-free community college, meaning that if you are a resident of that state and meet certain requirements, you can attend classes free of charge.

How much does it cost to go to community college in the US? ›

For the 2021-22 school year, public community colleges charge approximately $5,155 per year for in-state students and $8,835 for out-of-state students. The average yearly tuition for private community colleges is roughly $15,477 per year (Community College Review, 2021).

How many years is community college USA? ›

Community colleges offer two-year programs leading to the Associate of Arts (AA) or Associate of Science (AS) degree. These colleges also have technical and vocational programs with close links to secondary/high schools, community groups, and employers in the local community.

What are the disadvantages of a community college? ›

Con: Fewer Programs

You'll probably need to attend a four-year university. While community colleges usually offer dozens of degrees and certificates, they don't provide as much variety as a four-year college. On the other hand, community colleges offer more vocational and technical programs.

What are the pros and cons of going to a community college? ›

The Pros & Cons of Community Colleges
  • Cost of Tuition. The most obvious reason that students attend community college is for the financial advantage. ...
  • Flexible Schedule. ...
  • Give students an opportunity to explore major options. ...
  • Smaller Classes. ...
  • Qualified Professors. ...
  • Transitional. ...
  • Limited Curriculum. ...
  • Lighter Workload.

Are community colleges harder? ›

While many community college courses are not as rigorous as university courses, there are a lot of community college courses that are right on par with universities. This comprehensive guide will show you 5 important ways studying in a community college will make life easier for you.

What happens if you get accepted to college but don't go? ›

Most college acceptances have a kind of “expiration date” to them. For example, if you do not formally commit to attending the school by submitting a deposit, then your acceptance will be canceled for the year in which you applied. Schools will also rescind any financial aid packages they offered you.

What happens if you don't go to your early decision school? ›

Nothing, If You Back Out With Good Reason

Yes, early decision is binding. However, if you have a good reason for backing out of an early decision offer from a college, the school will often let you leave without penalty. A common reason for being released from the offer is due to finances.

Can you back out of college after accepting admission? ›

Can you reject a college after accepting? Certainly! From the day you accept your acceptance offer to the day of your graduation, you can choose to no longer attend the university you're currently at. This is even true for those who accept an early decision acceptance offer, which are usually binding.

How long does it take for a college to accept or reject you? ›

Every college has its own timeline for evaluating student applications. It's not unusual for a college's application process to take four to six weeks. Colleges that have an application portal allow students to go online to check the status of their applications at any time.

How long before college should you apply? ›

When should I start applying to college? Start the application process the summer before your senior year. You can also do a lot of prep work your junior year, such as taking the SAT, researching campuses and visiting them, getting recommendation letters, and adding to your extracurriculars.

What time of year is best to apply for college? ›

We recommend beginning the application process during the summer before your senior year. Starting in the summer gives you plenty of time before a majority of deadlines near the beginning of winter. If you want to be more proactive, you can even begin some college applications during your junior year.

How long are college classes? ›

Some classes might be three hours long and meet once a week, while some may be as short as 50 minutes and meet three times a week. Lab classes and discussion classes will vary in length depending on the subject and number of credits they provide; they are usually between 2 and 4 hours long.

Is 700 words a lot for a college essay? ›

Many schools set a word count or page limit for college essays and personal statements. If the program that you're applying to doesn't have a limit, you'll want your essay to be around 500-700 words. Either way, you should keep your essay concise, while at the same time fully explaining your main points.

Is 400 words good for a college essay? ›

Most college application portals specify a word count range for your essay, and you should stay within 10% of the upper limit. If no word count is specified, we advise keeping your essay between 400 and 600 words. You should aim to stay under the specified limit to show you can follow directions and write concisely.

What is the cheapest community college in us? ›

Most Affordable Community Colleges
1American River CollegeSacramento, California
2Luna Community CollegeSan Miguel County, New Mexico
3Antelope Valley CollegeLancaster, California
4Taft CollegeTaft, California
1 more row

Do community colleges in the US 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.

Why is college is so expensive? ›

Are you ready to discover your college program? Why is college so expensive? There are a lot of reasons — growing demand, rising financial aid, lower state funding, the exploding cost of administrators, bloated student amenities packages.

How many semesters in a college year? ›

There are generally two semesters per academic year: Fall (beginning in August or September) and Spring (beginning in January). Some semester-based schools also offer a Summer session that is shorter than a regular semester and is not a part of the regular academic year.

How many US students go to community college? ›

In the fall of 2019, there were 5.3 million students enrolled in community colleges. 41% of all undergraduate students in the US attend community college. The average age of a community college student is 28 years old.

How many units is one class in college? ›

Most standard college classes are awarded 3 or 4 units. Some very difficult, labor-intensive classes might be awarded a high number of units. For example, a challenging, upper-division class with a lab requirement might be assigned 5 units.

How old are most community college students? ›

Approximately half of California community college students are traditional aged (24 years old or younger) and half are adult students (25 years old or older).

What type of degree is typically learned at a community college? ›

Most community colleges do not offer a bachelor's degree. Instead, community colleges award certificates and associate degrees. An associate's degree is designed to be finished in two years (after about 60 credits) and is made up of core classes like English, history, math, government, arts, and science.

Who goes to community college in the US? ›

Community colleges emphasize the needs of local students and the local job market. Students who could not afford campus or off-site housing at a four-year college, or for other reasons cannot relocate, can attend courses while staying in their local community (though some colleges do offer student housing).

Why do people avoid community college? ›

Costs were too high. Direct financial costs were the most common reasons for early exit from community colleges, even though the colleges are typically more affordable than four-year schools. Over half of the former students in our survey, 53%, said they left due to the cost of tuition and fees.

Why you should go to a community college instead of a university? ›

Community colleges have many benefits. These local colleges offer professional certificates and basic courses you can use to replace the first two years of university credits. If the idea of going to a four-year university seems overwhelming, community colleges provide an easier and more cost-effective option.

Which is better college or university? ›

Both are equal academically, but if you prefer a school with a wider choice of classes and programs, a university may be a better fit. If you prefer small-sized classes and being able to interact more with their professors, a college might be a better option.

Is community college actually worth it? ›

Are community college degrees worth anything? Yes. Many students go to community college to earn a quick associate's degree and earn more than $50,000. They can even transfer to a university and complete a bachelor's degree later if they choose to do so.

What are 5 advantages of attending a community college? ›

Top Five Benefits of Community College
  • It's More Affordable. Overall, tuition is going to be significantly cheaper at a community college than it will be at a university. ...
  • There Are Smaller Classes. ...
  • You'll Have More Flexibility. ...
  • You Can Transfer Your Credits. ...
  • You'll Have More Job Opportunities.

How much do you pay in college? ›

How much is tuition?
Type of CollegeAverage Published Yearly Tuition and Fees (2022-23)
Public Two-Year College (in-district students)$3,860
Public Four-Year College (in-state students)$10,940
Public Four-Year College (out-of-state students)$28,240
Private Four-Year College$39,400

What is the hardest class in college? ›

Here 12 Of The Toughest College Classes:
  • Calculus.
  • Quantum Mechanics / Physics.
  • Philosophy / Metaphysics.
  • Thermodynamics.
  • Statistics.
  • Theory.
  • English Literature.
  • Psychology.
Apr 19, 2023

What are 3 disadvantages of attending a community college? ›

List of the Cons of Community College
  • It is not an option for a 4-year degree in most circumstances. ...
  • The workloads are often lighter at a community college. ...
  • It can be difficult to stay invested in the program. ...
  • There is no campus life at most community colleges. ...
  • It is usually paid for directly.
Aug 10, 2018

Can you apply to college as a freshman after going to college? ›

So, can you apply as a freshman if you already attended college? Technically, a student with a previous college experience who applies to a different college is regarded as a transfer student, not a freshman.

What to do if college rejects you? ›

How to Deal with College Rejection
  1. You Can Write an Appeal Letter. ...
  2. Know You are not alone. ...
  3. It's not personal. ...
  4. Don't Dwell on the “what ifs” ...
  5. Celebrate the acceptance letters. ...
  6. Embrace the schools that did accept you. ...
  7. Consider Your other options.
Dec 22, 2022

What is the first step to going to college? ›

Once you decide on a college, you have to apply, get accepted and enroll at the college. This process varies slightly depending on the school, but a general checklist includes: Determine if standardized tests or placement tests are required by your college. Submit your application and application fee if necessary.

Can colleges reject you for being too good? ›

While there is some anecdotal evidence that overqualified students get rejected, these students aren't usually turned down because of their better-than-average grades or test scores. Most likely, the overqualified student isn't the right fit for a school or they haven't shown enough interest to admission officers.

Does anyone get rejected from early decision? ›

You may not apply to more than one college under early decision. If you are not accepted, you will either be rejected or deferred. Rejected applicants may not apply again that year. Deferred applicants will be reconsidered during the regular admission period, and are free to apply to other schools.

Can you get out of early decision if you can't afford it? ›

Admitted students who can't afford the cost of attendance can often back out of their early decision contracts without penalty. Alternatively, you may be able to negotiate for more aid by contacting the school's financial aid office and informing them of your situation.

Can you commit to two colleges? ›

Double Deposits

Double depositing means putting down a deposit, and thus accepting admission, at more than one college. Since a student can't attend multiple colleges, it is considered unethical.

Do grades matter after being accepted to college? ›

Colleges consider your fall and final semester grades even if you've already received admission; that's how much your final year grades matter.

Can colleges change their mind after rejecting you? ›

While it's extremely rare for a college to overturn its decision, you may recommend that rejected students write a letter of appeal explaining why they deserve to be reconsidered. This action will give students the peace of mind of knowing that they have done everything possible to make a strong case.

How bad do your grades have to be to get admission revoked? ›

How Bad Do Your Grades Have To Be To Get An Admission Revoked? A moderate decrease such as straight A's to straight B's will not induce a college to revoke your acceptance, but a dramatic decrease of grades such as straight A's to C's, D's, and E's will give a college enough reason to revoke your acceptance.

Do community colleges require personal statements? ›

You still have to submit basic personal information (age, birth date, address, etc.), but this process allows you to avoid the essays and personal statements that are a staple of applications for most 4-year universities.

Do all college courses require essays? ›

Not all schools require students to submit an essay. Some institutions may require students to submit a supplemental essay or additional information.

Are college essays necessary? ›

Many frustrated applicants often find themselves asking “are college essays important?” Generally, the answer is “yes.” But how important will depend on the selectivity of schools you're applying to. Remember, most colleges in America accept a majority of applicants.

What if a college does not require an essay? ›

If a college says the essay is “optional,” you should still send one. It can only help you. The reason essay optional schools include that option is so when they are deciding between students with similar qualifications, they can look to see if there are other possible factors to judge.

What majors don t require papers? ›

Here's a list of degree programs that require the least amount of reading and writing.
  1. Architecture. The bachelor's in architecture is far from writing-intensive, primarily focusing on: ...
  2. Chemistry. ...
  3. Computer Science. ...
  4. Criminal Justice. ...
  5. Economics. ...
  6. Engineering. ...
  7. Mathematics. ...
  8. Music.

Which colleges don t require personal essay? ›

  • Case Western Reserve University.
  • Clemson University.
  • DePaul University.
  • Drexel University (essay for Westphal College of Media Arts & Design and custom-designed majors)
  • Fordham University (optional personal essays)
  • Miami University—Oxford.
Oct 11, 2022

What colleges don t need a college essay? ›

Colleges and Universities in the United States that Don't Require an Admission Essay
  • University of Alabama.
  • Alabama State University.
  • University of Alaska.
  • Arizona State.
  • Arkansas State University.
  • California State University.
  • University of Colorado - Denver.
  • University of South Florida.

What not to put on a college application? ›

What should you not write in a college essay?
  1. Never rehash your academic and extracurricular accomplishments.
  2. Never write about a "topic"
  3. Never start with a preamble.
  4. Never end with a “happily ever after” conclusion.
  5. Never pontificate.
  6. Never retreat into your thoughts.
  7. Never hold back.
  8. Never give TMI.

Will a bad college essay matter? ›

A bad essay will prompt an admission officer to assume one of two things: 1) either you don't care enough about your future at their school to take the time to write a good essay or 2) you aren't academically up to attending their college or university. Neither of those assumptions will help you get admitted.

Is it OK to say you in a college essay? ›

Don't Use “You”

As we said, feel free to use “I” or “we” in your college essays. This is your story, so tell it. But it would be very rare for you to have a reason to address the admissions officer directly, unless you are somehow writing a note to a specific person.

How long is a college essay? ›

The primary essay for your college application, often called a personal statement, is typically around 400-600 words. The Common App personal statement — which is used as the primary application essay by more than 800 colleges — must be 250-650 words.

Can you get into college without papers? ›

You Can Go to College

The first thing you should know is that no federal law prevents U.S. colleges from admitting undocumented students. And only a few states — including Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama — have placed any kind of restrictions on undocumented students attending public colleges and universities.

Can you go to college if you don't have papers? ›

All undocumented students in California can go to college and receive private or institutional scholarship—even if they don't meet eligibility for AB 540/SB 68 or the California Dream Act.


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