How do I take classes at the same time in a four-year university as well as a community college?
Do I apply as a normal student to a community college or is there a different process?
Due to the cost, I am planning to take core curriculum courses at a community college and degree -relevant courses at a four-year university.
You should be able to dual enroll and matriculate to two schools at once. However, you should keep in mind three things:
Financial aid — you are only eligible to receive federal student aid one school at a time. Since most financial aid packages rely on federal aid as their baseline, it will be more expensive to dual enroll than to go to community college and transfer later on.
Time constraints — you will likely need to enroll as a part-time student at both schools to take classes simultaneously (otherwise you'd have a full-time schedule with CC classes piled on top). This means you'd lose out on some aid and scholarship opportunities, as well as the ability to live on-campus. Keep in mind that the constant transportation and need to settle into separate environments will likely make you a less efficient student than if you only had one courseload.
Credit transfers — you need to be 100% certain your core curriculum classes will transfer over to the four-year university. I would recommend getting very specific answers about the process from administrators at both schools. Even if it's technically possible, there may be all kinds of delays and exceptions if the schools don't have an agreement in place, so you'll want to be sure what that looks like before you potentially lose a credit you've earned.
Other than that, it should be as easy as applying and matriculating to both institutions (however, you'll only get a final degree at one). If you've already matriculated, though, you'll need to make sure you have enough time to apply and enroll at the community college before you start your four-year degree.
Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any questions.
Thanks for asking this question. I'm sure there are plenty of HS students concerned with how to pay for their college education and want similar answers.
Here is my advice:
STEP 1 - Do some more research into your college list, specifically try to identify colleges that are the best fit possible to your family income/assets ability to pay. Many HS students know that if you are low income and high achieving you can get a hand up in to the very best colleges in America. Similarly if you are super rich you can as well. The real crux is with middle class families, even upper middle class families ($75,000-$200,000 incomes). Why? Because they feel they can't qualify for financial aid at their dream schools so why bother. This is tough exercise to do because your parents might encourage you to stay home or sweeten the deal with a car to stay home, or you might have a boyfriend or girlfriend you don't want to leave to go to college. Or a sick parent or sibling you have to help out with. There are many reasons why some applicants only apply in their own State. You can do this by either going to College Boards Big Future section and using their free Net Price Calculators or researching the colleges individually. Not all colleges are listed on CollegeBoard. I personally did this for about 75 schools and what I learned was shocking. The very most expensive schools for me turned out to be Public Universities out of State. While some of the least expensive ones were like Privates. I remember that applying to a UC school like UC Irvine would have been like $60K per year but applying to SOKA university more like $10K because they give out generous merit aid. And the schools are like 10 miles apart and SOKA is right near the Ocean. Financial Aid is improving at some really good college like Colgate University in NY. It's free tuition if your family makes $80K or less, only 5% of income between $80-125K, only 10% of income between $125-$150K, and on a sliding scale for families over $150K. My point is that you might find excellent colleges you can attend that do not require to pay 2 tuitions, one to your state school and one to your community college.
STEP 2 - Once you know what you revised college list is, apply to as many as you can handle because you never know exactly what the financial aid packages will be. If you apply to your in state colleges, you do not not have to apply to the Community College schools yet. Hold off on that until you get in. Also, you need to make sure your Community College course credits will perfectly align and transfer as 1 to 1 college credits toward your instate college major. It's a mistake to assume that so make sure ahead of time.
STEP 3 - Sometimes it is NOT better to go to 2 college concurrently because it's inconvenient, lots of driving, and you have to settle into 2 different environments. Sometimes it's better to go ALL-IN at your community college, then transfer after 2 years into a better college.
For example, if you live in Los Angeles, CA, and not the best student but your dream college is UCLA, you know already with a 10% acceptance rate, you may not get into UCLA. So lets say you decide you will go to CalState LA (77% acceptance rate) and LACC (los angeles community college) concurrently, similar to your plan above to save money. CalStateLA is $6750 and LACC is $1250. So lets say you save some $$$ but not a huge amount since both schools are inexpensive. You do this for 4 years, and graduate from CalStateLA where the average starting salary is $38000. Not great, not bad.
But if you went to Santa Monica CC for 2 years and paid $3880 per year and got great grades that would be exponentially better for you. Why? Because SMCC has an auto-admit feeder program into UCLA if you are in the Honors program. The TAP alliance transfer program in to UCLA works for about 25 community colleges. And doing this gives you either an auto-admit or a 80% transfer admit into UCLA. If you graduate from UCLA, starting salaries are about $75,000 or nearly double of CalStateLA.
IMO, it matters more the last school you attended than where you started off at. The wonderful thing about having 4300 4 year colleges to choose from is that you do not have to stay at 1 school for 4 years, you can play the transfer game. I know someone who transferred from Fordham to Barnard, from Franklin & Marshall to Boston University, and so forth and so on. There are countless stories of students who turn around their entire academic narrative in community college and apply to an Elite College or and Ivy League school and get in. So keep an open mind and remember that applying to college out of HS is not a "do or die" binary option. It just means, that at some future date, if you want to improve your outcome, you may have to apply as a transfer or wait until grad school to get into your dream college.
I hope this helped answer your question.
To keep this community safe and supportive: