According to the Institute for International Education (IIE) Open Doors Report, almost 9% of international students in the U.S. were enrolled at associate-degree granting institutions last year, with students coming mostly from China, South Korea, Vietnam, Japan, and Mexico. Community colleges are increasingly appealing for international students from more price-sensitive areas of the world and both two-year and four-year educational institutions are taking notice of the trend. “We have found recruiting international students from community colleges to be very beneficial for our campus. Our experience is that the geographic diversity represented by international enrollments allows us to meet students from across the globe in one location,” Lisa Przekop, director of admissions at UCSB, told ICEF (International Consultants for Education and Fairs) Monitor. “Transfer students have had a little more life experience so they bring a nice level of maturity and they have also successfully completed transfer preparation so we know they can adapt to upper division coursework on our campuses.”
Many community colleges have also implemented programs that allow international students to learn English as a second language and obtain high school diplomas while taking college credit courses. These two-year institutions traditionally leave much of their international student marketing to word of mouth amongst local immigrant communities. However, recently there has been a trend in community colleges to actively recruit internationally through both online “armchair” recruiting methods and collaborative relationships with foreign partner institutions. Some schools with online curriculum allow international students to obtain a U.S. Associate’s degree without ever leaving their country. Charlotte Bui, a current international student from Vietnam at Edmonds Community College, began her U.S. education at a two-year institution and is transferring to a four-year college next year. “A few colleges like mine actually allow international students to take college-level classes while finishing their high school program, which can save a lot of money and time. Community colleges have most of the general courses for all majors within the first two years, and have a lot of resources for students as well. All at the same time, their cost is more affordable than many four-year universities,” Bui told ICEF Monitor.