| APPLYING TO A COMMUNITY COLLEGE IN LOUISIANA
| The process of applying to community colleges is the similar from state to state. Therefore, the information on the application process below is a guide for students applying to American community colleges in general and is relevant to schools in all states. For the most current and specific details, students should therefore also refer to individual state higher education agencies, as well as individual colleges.
Applying to community colleges in the USA should begin well before your chosen program starts. Application requirements can differ from college to college even within a state; some have limited-enrollment programs with competitive admission, others offer open admission on a first-come, first-served basis. Therefore, applications can vary greatly depending on the school and the program.
How to apply
Step 1: find out what's required
Community colleges in the USA each set their own admission requirements. Once you have decided where to apply, contact the registrar or admissions office at each institution to find out exactly what's required from international students. Most community colleges provide this information online, and usually have a special website section for international student admission requirements.
Requirements and supporting documents
American community colleges can range from "open admission" (requiring only a high school diploma or simply that you be over the age of 18) to more specific academic requirements, such as certain grades in particular subjects. Requirements are usually specified on a program-to-program basis. Additional requirements may include reference letters, current résumé, criminal record check, CPR certification, health and immunization record, personal essay or letter of intent. The main required supporting documents are official high school transcripts (or any post-secondary transcripts, if relevant). Students applying directly to ESL programs may not be required to submit educational documents.
International students are generally required to submit proof of English proficiency, which can be through standardized language test scores or a college's own admissions test. Different colleges accept different tests and require different scores, so be sure to find out the specifics.
International students must also show that the quality of the education they received is comparable to that of US institutions. Community colleges in the USA each have their own criteria for recognizing international student qualifications. Therefore, applicants should contact the community college's admissions office to ask about assessing international qualifications. All international documents must be clear and legible, and must be official documents issued by your last-attended institution. Certified translations into English for all documents in other languages are usually requested, and the college admissions office can inform you about requirements for translation and exactly what qualifications they recognize. You can also consult one of the US's credential evaluation services. For a fee, these offices provide an evaluation that shows you how your credentials compare with American credentials. The purpose is informative only and does not guarantee recognition of your credentials. Know that there is no federal or state regulation of these services. However, there are two national associations of credential evaluation services with published standards that members must adhere to. Choosing a credential evaluation service that has membership in one of these national organizations is a good way to ensure they are legitimate and professional. The two national organizations are the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES) and the Association of International Credentials Evaluators (AICE)..
Step 2: know when to apply
Intake at community colleges generally operates on a traditional fall/winter semester system. Applications therefore may have cut-off dates with specific deadlines after which applications are no longer considered. For instance, for a term beginning in September, your application may be due by anywhere between February and June. Some community colleges have "rolling admission," in which applications are accepted all year round and processed on a first-come, first-served basis. Additionally, international student applications may have their own specific deadlines. Community colleges with internal scholarships and bursaries may encourage early application in order to qualify for these awards. Make sure you know when any required tests are offered (such as language tests) so that you can be sure to get the scores to the college by the deadline. Some exams are only offered at certain times of the year, so make sure you find out when you can write the one(s) you need.
Step 3: submit your application
Community college applications themselves generally consist of a downloaded form or a form completed and submitted electronically on the school's website or by mail to the institution. The application also usually includes a non-refundable application fee of anywhere between $25-$100, as specified by the institution.
Some colleges may request the initial application form by a certain deadline, followed by all other supporting documents. Other schools require all documents to be sent together with the application form. A college will then review the application, and if acceptable, will send you a provisional letter of acceptance. Often, international students are required to pay a tuition deposit (up to 50% of the fees for your first year), which can be paid by Visa, MasterCard, check, or wire transfer. Admission is considered confirmed when the community college receives your signed acceptance of their admissions offer along with the tuition fee deposit. Be advised that most international student fees are non-refundable.