While cost was a motivator, Greg Zdanowski from Poland says his final decision to attend community college came after lackluster meetings with two US universities. He felt more welcome to Harper College, an Illinois community college, where he says the admissions process for him was incredibly smooth.

“I remember my first meeting with the admissions office, where people had the time and knowledge to answer all of my questions. There was no hesitation or stress involved,” says Zdanowski, who obtained a Associate of Science with a major in Biology / Chemistry in May. School 2019.

Community colleges are two-year schools that are a popular option for international students. Almost all offer free admission, which means almost any eligible student can attend. According to The data from the Institute of International Education, approximately 94,562 international students studied at US community colleges during the 2017-18 academic year.

“Students should consider community colleges for many reasons – they can save a lot of money by attending community college, they can transfer to a university and find a different place in the United States, they can adapt to a new environment with smaller classes. Said Martha M. Parham, senior vice president of public relations at the American Association of Community Colleges.

Here are some things international students should know about community college admissions.

Transcript of records and grades. Prospective international students are usually required to send a transcript from the high school they graduated from, and it must be translated into English if it is in another language.

“International students applying to Pasadena City College must submit official transcripts from the last school attended, ”says Olivia Loo, director of international students at the two-year school in California. Loo says that if students are currently enrolled in a high school or college or university, then they should send in those transcripts.

“Because community colleges are open access, it may be easier to get admitted than if you first apply to a university,” says Jill A. Izumikawa, Coordinator of International Student Services at Harper College.

English requirements vary. English proficiency requirements for international students at community colleges may vary.

While Westchester Community College in New York does not require the TOEFL, applicants must prove proficiency in English to be accepted directly into a degree program, and students will need to take entrance exams in reading, writing, and math to determine college courses that they can follow. AT Richland Community College in Illinois and Pasadena City College, English proficiency test scores are not required if students attended a high school where English was the language of instruction.

“There are a number of ways to be proficient in English for our students to apply,” Loo explains.

She says applicants to Pasadena City College can meet the skills by meeting minimum standards for exams such as TOEFL, IELTS, STEP Eiken or iTEP; be taught primarily in English for at least three years or attend an American high school for at least one year with enrollment in English classes; complete the highest level of English in an accredited ESL program in the United States; or complete specific levels of English at one of the college’s partner ESL schools.

Application fees and tuition fees. While US community colleges may offer affordable tuition compared to four-year universities, international students should be aware that application fees and tuition fees may vary.

At Harper College, Izumikawa says international students pay the same application fee as US students, $ 25.

Much like the application fee, tuition fees may vary at community colleges. For example, at Edison State Community College in Ohio, the tuition for international students and the fee for a full year is $ 8,608. At Austin Community College, tuition and fees for 12 credit hours are $ 5,208, and at Rockland Community College, tuition and fees for international students are $ 10,500.

Overall, community colleges are less expensive than four-year universities in the United States, Parham says. According to the nonprofit College Board, the average tuition fee for community colleges for 2018-19 was $ 3,660, compared to $ 26,290 for a four-year university for international students.

Affordability is a major factor that brings many international students to community colleges. Loo says international students represent around 70 different nationalities at Pasadena City College and are one of the most active student groups on campus. She said that just last year, the chairman of associate students, an elected body that represents all students at the school, came from Korea, “and several members of the student council were also international students.”

No longer a student at Harper College, Zdanowski now helps students in the school’s emergency medical technician program. Having worked as a paramedic in Europe, he provides laboratory assistance to student paramedics from Harper College to Northwest Community Hospital. He will start school in the fall as a transfer student in premedicine at Aurore University in Illinois.

“I am a strong believer in the community college system because of their versatility and the wide range of possibilities they offer,” says Zdanowski.