How to pick a community college

Do your research to pick the best community college in your area, advises CNN Money. There can be big differences in graduation and transfer rates.

“Somebody who is choosing a community college should be as careful as they are in choosing a four-year college,” says Thomas Bailey, director of the Community College Research Center at Columbia University.

Community college shoppers can look at the school’s success rate, as compiled by College Measures, and check graduation and transfer statistics on the federal College Navigator site.

More tips:

Call the four-year college or university you’d eventually like to transfer to, and ask which community colleges they accept the most students from.

Ask the community colleges you are considering if they have an honors program for which you could qualify. Many community colleges with low or average overall success rates have separate honors programs that graduate or transfer a high percentage of their students, notes Bailey. A list of colleges with honors programs can be found at the National Collegiate Honors Council site.

Ask the community college if they have any guaranteed transfer programs to four-year universities and what course and grade requirements you must meet to qualify. If they don’t have guaranteed programs, ask which universities have “articulation agreements” that will at least give you some guaranteed credits.

Call the office for a specific program you’re interested in and find out about their success rates. “Just because the [community] college’s overall graduation rate is low doesn’t mean their nursing program isn’t great,” says Schneider.

If you’re likely to need basic skills classes in math, writing or reading, ask the college how they teach remedial courses. Is there a way to move quickly through catch-up classes or start at the college level with extra help?

POSTED BY Joanne Jacobs ON June 15, 2012

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