Tag Archives: community colleges

Enrolling in Community College – Here’s How It Works

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Returning to school as an adult can be a little frightening. Being prepared and knowing what to expect are your best defense. Your local community college is a good place to get your feet wet. A good deal of their student body is made up of returning adults and they have the staff and the programs on hand to help you succeed.

Admissions

Most community colleges require students to be 18 years or older to attend classes. Some courses of study require that you provide proof of completion of high school or that you have acquired an equivalency certificate. You will need to check the requirements with your school and for your field of study before enrolling.

You will need to provide your social security number, name, address, date of birth and if not a U.S. citizen, show a valid immigration card.

Assessment

In order to place you in the proper classes, you will be asked to take an assessment test. The test is given by appointment and covers reading, writing and math. A week or so later, you will receive the results of your test. It will contain scores on each part of the test and will state what level of classes you are prepared to take. In some cases, you may need to take classes to prepare you for the classes that apply to degree program. These preparatory classes will not count toward your degree, but without them, you may not pass the higher level classes.

Registering for Classes

Many community colleges ask you to meet with a counselor when you enroll for classes. They will have access to your assessment test scores and later to the list of classes you have completed. They can talk with you about your long term plans and how your class choices might affect them. For example, not all classes offered by a community college will transfer to a four year school. If you intend to pursue a higher level degree, they can help you select the right classes to keep you on your education path.

Regardless of whether you are attending full time or part time, you are free to pick whatever classes you desire so long as the prerequisites have been met. Prerequisites are those classes which teach basic or lower level information that you need to know before moving on to more complex classes such as taking basic math before studying algebra. You can take one class per semester or more. That choice is yours.

Tuition and Fees

After the enrollment process, you are responsible for paying any fees or tuition costs before classes begin. If you have applied for financial aid, this is the time to use it. You will be given a list of books and materials needed for your classes and it is your responsibility to get them prior to the start of class.

Every school has their own rules and policies, but this is a pretty standard idea of what  you can expect when you enroll in community college. You should check with your admissions office to see what they specifically require.

What Are the Differences between Colleges and Universities?

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When people talk about a college education, they are referring to the learning that goes on at institutions above and beyond the twelve years of schooling most Americans are required to take. The word college has the connotation of being a place of higher learning. A number of institutions can fulfill this definition including colleges and universities.

College

Though there are many definitions for the word ‘college,’ the one that fits for our purposes comes from Merriam Webster and states “an institution offering instruction usually in a professional, vocational, or technical field.” Categorized among these are junior colleges, technical colleges and community colleges. These schools generally provide an associate’s degree upon completing a two year course of study.

Often students attend one of these schools because they are less expensive than other college options. They may also be located closer to home avoiding the need for housing. They tend to be smaller in size and offer fewer areas of study than their larger counterparts.

University

According to the same dictionary, a university is “an institution of higher learning providing facilities for teaching and research and authorized to grant academic degrees; specifically: one made up of an undergraduate division which confers bachelor’s degrees and a graduate division which comprises a graduate school and professional schools each of which may confer master’s degrees and doctorates.”

That sums it up pretty nicely. A university requires four years to complete the course studies to earn a bachelor’s degree. They offer a much broader range of studies and a more in-depth learning experience. A bachelor’s degree is looked at with more respect than an associate’s degree.  It also paves the way for a master’s degree or doctorate, degrees which require even more years of study.

Colleges within Universities

Some universities are so large and diverse that they actually group students by their field of study. These dominant areas of study exit within their own colleges on the university campus or within its scope of organization. So it is possible for a student in these cases to attend both a college and a university at the same time.

Some might argue that a university is better than a college. Certainly each has its pros and cons. What really matters when choosing a school is its ability to provide you the education you seek in order to pursue your career. For many, cost is also a factor in the decision and universities are far more expensive than colleges.

Community College Issues You May Face

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Community college is an obvious next step for many because of the low cost and accessibility. Community colleges have a more open admissions system than universities meaning people who didn’t do well in high school can still get into college. Often this presents problems. Other factors can limit who gets in and into what programs. While community colleges basically accept anyone who has completed college, there can be some unexpected setbacks.

Past Study Habits

If you did not have good study habits in high school, college will be challenging. Just because it is a “community” college doesn’t mean the work load will be lighter or easier than any other college. While community colleges provide higher education for all, they still have performance standards that students must meet to advance academically.

Placement Testing

Depending on your high school grades and how long it has been since you attended school, you may be required to take a placement test. Some colleges use state-specific tests while other might use ACT or SAT scores to determine placement. Testing covers basic academic subjects and identifies weaknesses. Sometimes a remedial class will be required before you can enroll in the curriculum of your choice. This is to prepare you for coursework ahead and help assure you of success.

Specialized Programs

Some community colleges offer specialized programs such as nursing, law enforcement, engineering technology or computer technology. Entry into these programs may have separate and more stringent requirements. Separate testing of Sat/ACT scores of a particular number may be required for admission to these types of programs.

Transfer to Four-Year College

If your goal is to ultimately transfer to a four year college, class selection is critical. Not all classes offered at the community college level are eligible for transfer and some that are eligible to transfer, don’t transfer to all four-year colleges universally. Several associate degrees may be available in English but which one allows you to transfer and go on to earn a teaching certificate. These and other issues can cause a good deal of heartache an unnecessary expense if not properly addressed during enrollment.

Your community college experience by and large can be a good one if you know what to expect and are prepared for it. This is not an extension of your high school days; it is the next level up and should be approached seriously, with commitment and diligence.

Admissions Process for a Community College Degree

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So, you’ve decided to attend a local community college to earn a certification or degree. It’s close by; you’ve worked out your financial and child care arrangements and are ready to get started by enrolling and completing the admissions process. As a single mom you know that the time you have to invest in the admissions process and getting started are nothing compared to the effort and juggling it will take to actually earn your certification or degree so you may be champing at the bit to get started.

The first step is of course determining whether you qualify to attend a community college. While community colleges usually have an open door policy where anyone who can afford the classes can attend, there are generally two requirements: The student must be at least 18 years old and hold either a diploma or a GED.  If you have not completed high school you can get a GED before you begin your community colleges admissions process.

Most certificate or associate degree programs through community colleges require that you complete an application and pay an application fee. You will also need to present your accredited high school transcripts or GED scores. Many times these programs also require placement tests, so that they know exactly where you need to be to earn your degree.

It may take a while to get everything you need for admissions to a certificate or degree program at a community college, but schedule your placement tests and get them out of the way as soon as you can, then you can begin working through the paperwork requirements.

Schedule a meeting with a counselor to help you with all of the details of being admitted to the program and your class scheduling needs. Community colleges are pretty flexible and used to working with single moms. The counselor can tell you if you’ve missed any of the financial aid opportunities and go over the information for your program with you.

Once all the paperwork is done, tests submitted and course chosen, you can register for classes, pay your tuition and get your books. You are now officially a student!

Different Types of Schools for Single Moms

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When a single mom makes the decision to go back to school she has many choices to make. She needs to first decide what sort of school she wishes to attend because this option will affect many of her other choices from the financial aspect to child care and class scheduling.

What every single mom should know about universities and colleges is basic information that will allow her to arrange financial aid, schedule classes and make a plan for child care, goals and other aspects of going back to school. The type of degree or certification she chooses to obtain will also affect which type of school she needs.

Community College

For continuing education community college is often the first step. Most community colleges offer 2-year associates degrees which can be transferred to another college or university in order to obtain a bachelor’s degree. While community colleges don’t typically offer dorms or student housing plans for a single mom the lower cost and flexible scheduling for both physical and online courses make them a viable option to get started.

Undergraduate Colleges and Universities

Undergrad colleges and universities generally allow students to earn a BA or BS degree in a 4-year program. There are different levels of undergrad colleges and universities all across the country.

  • Public- are funded by the state and often offer lower tuition for state residents.
  • Private – are not state funded and provide equal tuition costs regardless of state residency.
  • Specialized- private colleges and universities that specialize in offering single sex education, religious education or a specific topic of education such as culinary arts or engineering.

These colleges and universities offer hundreds of classes related to many different majors unless they are specialized schools.

Graduate Colleges and Universities

Graduate schools allow students to earn the next level after a bachelor’s degree which is known as a masters or a doctoral degree.

A single mom needs to evaluate the benefits of each type of school and decide upon a course of action determined by what type of field she wants to work in and what sort of degree she wants to earn.