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​How to Apply to Community College

Last updated February 27, 2022

Interested in attending community college? Here’s what you need to know about applying.

Research community colleges

Look into your local community colleges. Make note of their different application and enrollment deadlines, tuition costs, and other class fees (lab equipment, textbooks, etc.). In general, if you are aiming to receive an Associate's degree in ~2 years time, you can enroll to attend any semester or quarter that works best for you. Some specialized programs might have specific class start dates, so be sure to fully research and understand what will be expected of you upon starting.

Need some help staying organized during your college search? Use our free college application requirements tracker!

Think about how community college aligns with your career goals

When researching community colleges near you, think about your career goals and how attending college can help you reach them. Does this college have specialized programs (IT, nursing, computer science, etc.) that interest you and could set you up for career success in the future? Does the college have (or lack) majors or areas of study that interest you? Take these things into consideration during your research to help narrow down your search and find a program that works best for you. To learn more, visit Career One Stop to read about projected employment needs for your state, wages, and other resources to help you explore a future career. 

Gather required documents

When you fill out an application to enroll in community college, you will need provide:

  • Personal information: state IDs, social security cards, birth certificates 
  • Proof of residency: rental/lease agreements, utility bills, etc.
  • Academic history: high school diploma, GED, or certified high school transcripts, SAT/ACT scores, any previous college credit
  • Citizenship status: passport, Permanent Resident Card (green card), proof of DACA status

If you're unsure about how to obtain any of these documents, check in with the admissions/enrollment office at your intended community college for help. 

How to Apply to Community College

Enrollment and placement exams

After you complete and submit the enrollment application and pay any application fees, you will need to take placement exams. The exams will test your academic skills in math, science, and writing. After completing the exam, you will be placed into classes based on your performance on these exams. 

Apply for financial aid

Visit your intended college's Financial Aid office to learn more about receiving financial aid. They can help answer your questions and assist you with submitting your FAFSA or any state-based financial aid applications. To apply for financial aid, you will need to provide some personal financial information - like household finances, pay stubs, your tax returns, etc. Be sure to check in with the financial aid office to see what exactly is required to submit.

Looking for extra aid for college? Check out our lists of scholarships available now!

Orientation and registering for classes

Whether it’s online or in-person, going to orientation is important to help you get familiar with the campus and essential resources like the financial aid office, library, places to eat, and more. After you register, you should receive an email from the college to attend an orientation -be sure to check your email often, and actually open the email when you receive it, as you might have to register for the orientation to attend it. During your orientation, you will also most likely meet with an academic advisor, who will help guide you through the class registration process and help you choose classes that align best with your intended major/area of study and career goals. If you're still unsure about how to register, check out our guide on registering for college classes!

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