How to Get a Bachelor's Degree in California - Community Colleges and Transfer - Pros and Cons

With the rising university costs community college transfer programs are gaining more and more popularity among American and international students.

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What are the advantages of attending community college first and then transferring to a four-year university? There are quite a few.


1. Cost

First of all, it costs much less to attend a community college than a four-year university, even if you pick a budget one. For example, compare the undergraduate tuition for international and out-of-state students for three California higher education institutions*:

  • Foothill College, part of California Community Colleges system: ~$7 000.00 per year;
  • San Jose State University, part of California State Universities system: ~$18 000 per year;
  • Stanford University, California private university: ~$44 000 per year;

* 2013-2014 (Source). Note, that these estimates include only tuition and do not include other costs like health insurance, books & college supplies, and room and board.

2. Applying

Second, applying to an American university can be a tricky and time-consuming process, not to mention that admission to many majors/programs is very competitive. While most universities offer guides and assistance, the amount of documents (transcripts, essays, recommendations) can quickly become overwhelming.

Although you do not skip all that by attending a community college first (because you still have go through university application process when you transfer), it is often less stressful to apply to a community college (where application process is easier) from you home country, and then make yourself familiar with American higher education system while completing the first two years of your bachelor degree.

3. Tools and assistance with transferring to your dream university

Finally, community colleges offer advising services to help you with transferring to the university of your choice. They help you choose the classes that you need to take, review application essays, and offer general tips. Some community colleges even have guaranteed admission agreements with specific universities, which means that you are guaranteed to be admitted to those universities if you maintain good grades and take the required classes.

In addition to these tools and assistance, you have two years to make yourself stand out among other university applicants by studying hard and participating in extra-curriculum activities: leading and joining the clubs, playing sports, volunteering.


Of course, there are some disadvantages in attending community college first versus going straight to a four-year university.

1. Less time to spend at a 4-year university

You will have less time to take advantage of the services offered at the university to which you transfer - for example, many universities offer a lot of research opportunities starting from the first year of your studies. This is especially important if you plan to continue your education - many graduate schools will expect you to have a couple of published papers when you apply for a PhD program (in addition to good test scores and recommendations).

2. Competition

Community colleges attract different types of students, including those getting an Associate degree or a professional certificate, undecided high school graduates, general public looking to expand their education, as well as students like you who are planning to transfer to a 4-year university. This means that some students do not participate in college life at all and some are not interested in studying and drop out in the middle of the semester. This might affect your results if you are not a diligent student and need extra push from your peers.

3. Transfer policy

Some universities (e.g., Stanford University) accept a very small number of transfer students. To be fair, those universities usually have very low acceptance rates overall. But if you have set you mind on a specific school, make sure to check their policy towards accepting transfers or consider applying to the university of your choice as a freshman.

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Posted in Home Improvement Post Date 07/12/2021






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