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Applying to a Community College

Applying to a community college is a fantastic route toward an Associate Degree, and is also a wise option for high school graduates who want to improve their grade point average before applying to a 4-year college or university. It is helpful to know from the start whether you plan to obtain a two-year degree, or whether you wish to eventually transfer your credits to a 4-year degree program. Also be clear with the admissions office up front about how heavy of a course load you can take on. It is common for students at community colleges to work full time in addition to going to school, and in many cases the admissions office can help you develop a flexible course schedule to meet your needs. Generally, you can break down the steps to apply to a community college into:

  1. Research community colleges
  2. Gather recommendation letters
  3. Gather copies of official test scores, transcripts, and your high school diploma or GED
  4. Talk with faculty in your area of study
  5. Apply

1. Research Community Colleges
In many cases, if you opt to attend a community college there will be only one or two options within a reasonable distance from your home. However, if you happen to live in a major metropolitan area that offers multiple community college options, be sure to do your homework. Make sure the college you are considering will accommodate your work schedule or family commitments. And, if you are planning to transfer to a 4-year college or university, get information from the admissions office about how many credits you can transfer. It can also be helpful to find a community college that partners with a 4-year university. Your general education requirements will typically be covered at a lower cost at the community college, and your major courses and many electives will then be taken when you transfer into a Bachelor’s Degree program.
2. Gather Recommendations
Think about former high school teachers and mentors, employers, community and civic leaders, clergy, and others in your community, work, or educational relationships who know and respect your work and encourage your studies. These people make ideal candidates to write recommendation letters for your community college application, should your college request them (not all do, but you should have them on hand). Request letters of recommendation from these supporters early in your application process and give them plenty of time to write them.
3. Gather Copies of Official Documents
Gather several official copies of your SAT/ACT (or other standardized) test scores, your high school diploma or GED, your high school transcript, and any other official documents requested for your applications. Keep several copies of these on hand in case you decide to apply to more than one school.
4. Talk to Faculty in Your Area of Study
If you already know the area of specialization you plan to study at the community college you are applying to, contact faculty in that department directly. Many community colleges involve faculty from specialized programs in the application review process, and they can offer valuable insights into the curricula and what you can expect to learn and the skills you will gain.
5. Apply
Once you are ready to apply, gather all of the information you’ll likely need to have on hand:

  • Statements about any lapses in education or employment
  • Proof of any prerequisite courses or work experience
  • SAT, ACT, or other standardized test scores, depending on the requirements of the school
  • Proof of graduation (a copy of your diploma, when available)
  • High school transcript with your current or final grades and grade point average (GPA)
  • Names and contact information for your parents or guardians (if they are supporting you financially in any way)
  • Personal contact information
  • Statements about your academic and career interests
  • Demographic information about your household
  • Occupation and education level information about your parents or guardians (if they are supporting you financially in any way)
  • Names, addresses, and dates of attendance for all high schools and any other colleges you have attended
  • Information about your extracurricular activities and work experience
  • A writing sample and/or essay, if requested
  • Recommendation letters, if requested
  • Information about any criminal convictions or disciplinary measures that you have been involved with
  • Application fee, depending on the school

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