Globalize your academic journey!
Attend a Community College in the United States with AFS.
The AFS-USA Community College Program offers high school graduates an opportunity to kick-start the next stage of their academic journey in the United States - under the care and guidance of AFS.
Community colleges provide an exceptional introduction to higher education while AFS ensures that you have the tools and support needed to thrive in a new country.
Improve your English or start your degree program!
The AFS Community College USA Program is perfect for intensive English language study or for a serious academic program as part of your university level education.
AFS has designed this program to meet the needs of young adults (18-20) who have completed the high school diploma equivalent in their home countries. In general, the program works best if you're planning to pursue your education in the United States (or any English-speaking country) and are looking for a way to bring your English-speaking skills to the level needed for college admission - while also enjoying an introduction to college life.
An easy transition when you go with AFS!
With the support and guidance of AFS, you won't have to worry about starting school in a new country and in an unfamiliar academic environment. Likewise, your parents are able to relieve their level of worry knowing that you are not embarking on this adventure alone.
A perfect way to start your education abroad.
The AFS Community College USA Program offers a great cultural environment within which you can:
- Improve your English
- Enrich your intercultural awareness and global competency
- Experience family life in the USA through a home stay, or, if desired, a weekend/holiday home stay.
AFS offers two different program options:
Option A – Intensive English Program (IEP)
This track works best if you are interested in improving your English with courses in Writing, Grammar, Reading, and Pronunciation. You'll be placed in classes with other international students and, in turn, your intercultural experience goes far beyond simply learning about the USA. Some students prefer to start with Option A and then move to Option B for the spring semester.
Eligibility: High School graduation. No English test required, but some proficiency is helpful.
Option B – Academic Track
This is a great opportunity for you to try what it's like to study abroad. Since US community colleges have agreements with most US 4-year universities, it's easy to transfer credits. In other words, while these are two-year institutions, the course credits are generally recognized by and, in most cases, transfer quite easily to four-year colleges and universities. If, after a semester or year in a community college, you decide to study elsewhere, the credit for courses you have completed will benefit you wherever you choose to study.
Academic Track Eligibility: This version requires that you take and pass your English/TOEFL test in order to qualify for credit classes. Many international students that qualify for this track may still be required to take English as a Second Language (ESL) classes with non-native speakers. However, you will also be eligible for some academic classes with American students. If you choose Option B, you must take the TOEFL test prior to submitting your application to AFS.
Sample qualifying TOEFL scores for course enrollment:
- Paper Based TOEFL (PBT): 500+
- Computer Based TOEFL (CBT): 170+
- Internet Based TOEFL (iBT): 60+
If you have a sufficient TOEFL score, you can usually enroll directly into an academic credit/ degree program. But, if your TOEFL score isn't high enough, not to worry - you will first be enrolled in an intensive English study program to prepare for full course work.
English language skills, TOEFL, and coursework
We encourage you to provide some form of language proficiency test. However, the TOEFL is not required for Option A (IEP).
If you do not have access to the TOEFL test within the required timeframe for applying to the AFS program, perhaps one of the tests listed here is accessible and, likewise, may also be accepted by the community college.
AFS Community College Locations
AFS-USA has identified a number of well-established and reputable institutions with which to partner. We have also focused our efforts on locations that offer, at minimum, a basic level of public transportation.
The following colleges are being offered for Fall 2015:
- Cabrillo Community College, Aptos, CA
- Fulton-Montgomery Community College (DORM Program Only), Johnstown, NY
- Howard County Community College, Columbia, MD
- Northern Virginia Community College, Alexandria, VA
- Portland Community College, Portland, OR
- Roane State Community College, Harriman, TN
- State Fair Community College, Sedalia, MO
AFS Community College Program students are enrolled through an F-1 visa facilitated by the community college via the I-20 form. Colleges have their own requirements for granting the I-20 form and you will need to provide this information during the application process.
In many cases, colleges will require a bank statement showing that you have at least US$2500 in personal spending money. You may want to include the bank statement with your application to save time if the college requests it.
The Form I-20 (also known as the Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status-For Academic and Language Students) is a United States Department of Homeland Security, specifically ICE and the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), document issued by SEVP-certified schools (colleges, universities, and vocational schools) that provides supporting information on a student's F or M status.
Since the introduction of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) run by SEVP, the I-20 form also includes the student tracking number (SEVIS ID number) and school code. The Form I-20 is only for F-1, F-2, M-1, and M-2 statuses. J-1 and J-2 status holders have an equivalent Form DS-2019 which is issued by a United States Department of State-designated J exchange visitor program.
For complete details regarding the visa process, visit our Visa Information site.
All AFS Community College Program participants are supported by experienced AFS staff and volunteers. In other words, you're never alone if you have problems or just a simple question. AFS will also contact you regularly to find out if your experience is going well and to make sure you're happy, healthy, and safe. (Of course, you're an adult, but your parents will still feel better knowing that we're making sure you're ok while you're so far away from home.)
Host Family Accommodations
Students will live with a host family that receives a small monthly payment that assists them with a few of the basic costs for having an additional person in their home. Even though they receive a small payment, AFS families host students because they are interested in sharing their homes and their lives with an international student.
While community colleges are typically populated with students that commute from their homes, some community colleges also offer dormitory accommodations. AFS participants have the option of living in a college dorm with other American and international students. You will be assigned to an AFS host family for some weekends and holidays. You will share a room with another student, take your meals at a nearby school cafeteria, and have adult supervision in the building. The international dorm has organized evening and weekend activities which are optional for students.
Most campuses (except for the dorm placement) are situated in cities where there is some form of public transportation. But, you should be aware that public transportation in the USA is available, but not always convenient. Some students may wish to drive, and if so, should come prepared with an international drivers license that can be converted to a state license. Students who choose to drive assume the operational and insurance costs to do so.
Application schedule and arrival
Application deadlines vary depending on locations and when you want to study. The AFS office in your country can give you more information on application procedures and deadlines.
Generally, colleges on the east coast will require an arrival, for the first semester, in mid August. For west coast colleges, the arrival should occur in early September.
For students choosing to start with the second semester, most colleges will require an arrival in mid December, although some may be able to allow for an arrival in early January.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I choose which campus I will attend?
You may indicate a preference, however, AFS-USA will make the final decision based on factors determined by individual colleges.
Will I have to return home in order to obtain a new F1 visa if I extend their program?
No. The same F1 visa will be extended with a new I-20, and you do not need to return home.
What expenses will I need to pay?
You are responsible for textbooks and can obtain them at full price at the college bookstore, or at a discount through internet sites. You will also be responsible for purchasing your own lunches if you do not pack a lunch from home. Transportation will also be your responsibility, either via public transportation (if available) or by making friends and obtaining rides from them. Host families may also assist, but they are not required to provide transportation.
Will the college want to have any enrollment paperwork?
The college may wish to schedule a Skype interview with you to verify your level of English-speaking ability. All students are tested after arrival.
Will I be able to take “academic” classes, such as history or economics or computer science?
Most students, even those with strong English skills, find that they must take additional language classes with non-native speakers prior to starting an academic curriculum. If you provide a qualifying TOEFL score, you may qualify for credit classes from the beginning of your program. In some cases, you may qualify for credit classes in the spring semester, but this cannot be guaranteed and is dependent upon testing results and the requirements of the college.
What do I do during the January school break?
AFS Volunteers will be offer community service opportunities for you during the month-long school break in January. You can also use the break as a chance to explore a different part of the country, if you wish.
Hear what these former students have to say about their AFS Community College USA experiences!
Questions? Ready to apply? Need help deciding?
To find out more information or to start your application, contact us today!
The AFS Community College USA Program is an intercultural study abroad experience offered by AFS-USA, the world's oldest and largest student exchange organization. We've been conducting quality student exchange programs for more than 65 years. To learn more about our organization, visit www.afsusa.org.