Community Colleges

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					              Community College as a Post-Secondary Option


The first thing to realize about community colleges is that they are NOT an extension of
high school! Most community colleges have open admission policies (anyone may
attend), which lead some people to believe that community colleges don’t have the rigor
or standards of 4-year colleges. All community colleges require that you take placement
tests before enrolling in most credit earning core classes (English, math, science, social
studies). There is definitely a level of expectation and the placement tests are geared
toward making sure that you have the skills to be successful in the classes you need.
Additionally, some programs within community colleges are selective programs.
Nursing, law enforcement, engineering technology and computer technology programs
often have waiting lists for admission or a core set of courses that you have to take (and
be successful in) before admission to the program.


What is a community college? Community colleges are two-year, or associate degree,
institutions. They are public schools. They offer liberal arts and professional programs
designed to transfer to four year institutions. Dentistry, education and law are examples
of these types of programs. While they offer associate’s degrees in vocational or
technical fields, too, they can also offer certificate programs in these areas.


There are several things that make community colleges unique. First, their mission is to
provide learning opportunities for members of the local town, city , county, or region.
They respond to the needs of their community and may therefore offer more courses in
a particular discipline than a community college located fifty miles away. A community
college located in the city of a hospital may offer more health care courses than a
community college in a city with no hospital. Second, community colleges tend to be
more diverse than traditional colleges. This is especially true for the range of ages of the
people attending a community college. Third, class sizes tend to be smaller than class
sizes at a 4-year college. Fourth, the faculty often consists of people still working in the
field in which they teach. Fifth, cost! Community colleges usually cost much less than
traditional colleges. Financial aid based on need is available and there are many
scholarships targeting students who attend community college. Some 4-year colleges
offer scholarships that are only available to transfer students.


Community colleges can be a terrific choice for the right student. Visit a community
college and take a look at the “Is Community College for Me?” handout to help decide if
it’s the right choice for you. While most students in our area choose Lansing Community
College, Montcalm Community College or Grand Rapids Community college, visit the
Michigan Post-Secondary Handbook in our “Links” section to learn more about all of the
community colleges in Michigan.

				
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