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​How to Apply to Community College

Last updated June 22, 2020

Interested in attending community college? Confused on the steps to apply? Here’s how to apply to community college.

Research community colleges

Look into the community colleges around you. What specialized programs do they offer and are you interested in them (IT, nursing, computer science, etc)? Visit Career One Stop to read about projected employment needs for your state, wages, and other resources to help you explore a future career.

Make a note of deadlines, tuition amounts, and estimated fees (lab equipment, other materials). In general, if you are applying for a standard Associate's degree you can enroll to attend any semester/quarter. For specialized programs, there are specific start dates in order to attend classes with other students in the same program.

Gather required documents

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

  • personal information - state ID, social security card, household info
  • proof of residency - rental/lease agreement, utility bills
  • academic history - a 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

The community college you apply to will provide you with a list of approved documents.

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. At the end of the exam you will be placed into classes based on your performance on these exams. This could mean being placed into introductory courses for subjects that you need to strengthen to prepare you for college level work.

Apply for financial aid

Visit the Financial Aid office and start the process of applying for financial aid. They can help answer questions and assist you with submitting your FAFSA application. Be prepared to provide information about your household finances, pay stubs, and your tax returns. The Financial Aid office can help provide a list of documents you will need to reference. Also, ask about scholarships and if they have a list or if they can direct you to further resources.

Orientation and registering for classes

Go to orientation, whether it’s online or in-person, to get familiar with the campus and resources. Check your email for a “next steps” type of email after you register and visit the college’s event calendar. Next, meet with an academic advisor to help guide you through the class registration process. Read, How to register for college classes to help you get ready for your meeting.

Learn more:

How to be successful in community college

Community and Technical Colleges

Get to College

Alternative Pathways

What Is a Trade School? Everything you need to know
Enlisting in the U.S. Military

See the whole series

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