I had an interview the other day with a reporter from Voice of Vietnam (VOV), Vietnam’s national radio station. The topic? US Community Colleges (CCs). After citing a litany of reasons why CCs have become so popular in recent years among Vietnamese and other international students (e.g., much less expensive than four-year schools, open admission policy, smaller class sizes, excellent transfer opportunities, the chance to experience two very different regions of the US, etc.), the reporter asked me to mention some disadvantages. The first one that came to mind is the fact that most CCs do not offer on-campus housing. This is changing, slowly but surely, among many CCs that recruit internationally.
There was a excellent question about rankings and how students and parents can determine the quality of a given CC. Since CCs are not ranked – for all of their imperfections and shortcomings, rankings are a useful tool for US and international students who are attempting to create a short list from among thousands of colleges and universities – this is a problemtic issue. Yes, they’re all regionally accredited, which provides a baseline, but there’s a wide range of quality among RA institutions of higher education in the US, be they CCs or four-year schools. Among the reasons I mentioned, this is probably the most important: Find out which four-year schools most students transfer to.
What about the visa issue? Another challenge for students. I shared what a former consular chief told me about the need for consular officers to put on their “admission officer’s hat” to determine whether or not the young woman or woman standing in front of them is a bona fide student who has a well-thought out plan that makes sense (e.g., study at CC X, transfer to certain school to major in subject Y and complete a bachelor’s degree). The bar is set even higher for students entering high school completion programs, which are all the rage in Vietnam.
Feel free to add to the above, dear reader.