Thomas B. Hassett
Director of International Admissions
The answer to this question largely depends on your goals and circumstances. Two-year schools come in two types or dimensions: vocational and academic. If you intend to pursue a vocational program such as culinary arts, automotive, or one of the major trades, then you will most likely go into a two-year, terminal program on an M visa.
If you intend to get a bachelor’s degree, then a two-year school should be selected only after making a number of considerations. First, and despite a common belief that courses readily transfer from two to four-year schools, you will need to be certain that all of your courses will transfer—the way that you intend. The assertion that all courses will transfer into a four-year school has little relevance if your real goal is to get your degree in four years; instead, you need to find out how many courses will transfer into your intended degree. Second, two-year schools are often community colleges, which are publicly funded by residents of a county, a subdivision within a state. Students who come from outside the county will have to pay out-of-county tuition, which may be considerably higher. Third, consular officers are increasingly becoming wary of two-year schools as a precursor to a bachelor degree. Certain regions of the world are not good contexts for obtaining your F visa if the consular officer believes that your intention to transfer is in question or that you need not be spending time at one school when you intend to go to another. Finally, two-year schools have “open admission” in their selection of applicants. This term means that one need only attain a secondary-school diploma as a basis for acceptance without regard to academic profile or test scores. Under this context, you could be in class with students who will need remedial or extra support.
To conclude, you will need to reflect on your educational goals and the considerations that may inhibit or promote your ability to attain them as a basis for your final decision.