Enrolling in community college is easier than most other college choices, but you still need to follow a plan.
1. Find out what is out there. In many states students apply to community colleges located in their county or region. Applying outside of that area can incur higher out-of-county costs as these schools are funded at the county level. In some states the majority of funding is from the state government, making it possible for students from anywhere in the state to apply and receive the same rate as local students.
2. Learn what programs are available. What do you want to study? Are you looking for a diploma, a certificate or an associate degree? It is important to have a good idea about what path you want to take. If you are seeking a specific job, such as an automotive mechanic, compare the training programs available. If you plan to transfer to a four-year college, find out if there is a clear path to make that transition. For instance, does the community college have a working relationship with a public university? If so, you may benefit from a priority transfer option.
3. Fill out an application. Applying to community college is much easier than most other colleges. The reason is that community colleges have open enrollment and welcome students regardless of how well they did in high school. You’ll still need a diploma or a GED, but entrance examinations are usually not required. Keep in mind that if you did poorly while in college, you may have to take some extra (remedial) courses while in community college.
4. Submit official high school transcripts. Whether you are a high school graduate (diploma) or completed your GED, the community college will need official record of that information. That means contacting your high school and having your transcript forwarded directly to the community college. The same action should be taken for your GED. And, if you previously attended college and would like those credits counted, you must submit your official college transcripts.
5. Apply for financial aid. As you send off your application, you should apply for financial aid. That means completing your Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) and getting that in before the deadline. You can also apply for aid from the college once your application has been accepted and processed.
6. Register for classes. You’re ready to register for classes as soon as your application is approved and the registration period opens. It is good practice to register as soon as you can as classes may fill up quickly. You may still get the classes you want, but your time and schedule may not be to your liking. If needed, meet with an advisor as you register for classes to ensure that you’re following the college’s protocol. Plan to attend your college’s freshman or new student orientation too.
7. Pay tuition and fees. At the time of registration you’ll be expected to pay for tuition and fees. Your final cost will reflect student aid, what you must pay for the semester. Some colleges allow for deferred payments, meaning you can pay as you go.
After paying tuition and fees, you should obtain your textbooks. You can buy these at the student bookstore or online. You can also rent your books from Chegg or some other company. Obtain both your student identification card and your parking permit, and you’re ready to start attending classes.