Finding (the Right) Two-Year School for You

Most students going for two-year degrees look first to their local community colleges; you have all the benefits of in-person contact and plenty of opportunity for hands-on learning (just like you'd get at a four-year school), but you can also save on boarding costs by commuting from home, and class schedules are flexible enough to allow for night and weekend work around any job you may already have. In addition, online options are typically available for many courses through your local community colleges. Online-only programs are also available in other ways, although attendance in person is usually to be preferred (see below). If you have a particular program in mind that you'd like to try, and it is not readily available through any of the options listed below, try our tips for searching Vocational Schools.

Local Community Colleges

The five accredited colleges within easy driving distance of the DeWitt/Central Community Schools area are listed below. Click any name to see a full list of the academic programs available at that college:

Note: Clinton, Scott and Muscatine are all part of the Eastern Iowa Community Colleges (EICC) network, and they all share a website with program information. Programs are marked as 'CCC', 'SCC', or 'MCC' to point out which campus you have to go to for each program. Some EICC programs are also available at additional locations, e.g. the Blong Technology Center.

If you intend to move out of the area after graduation, but would still like to attend a community college near your new location, you can use the Big Future college finder to search for accredited colleges.

Online Degrees

Getting a degree online is an increasingly popular alternative to attending a brick-and-mortar college. This is certainly an option you can consider, but it's important to stress doing your research here, as not all online programs are reputable or even recognized by employers. The rule of thumb is that any as-seen-on-TV, online-only college will probably not be worth your time. Instead, what you can look for are traditional colleges that also happen to offer online programs — that is, any established college/institute with a physical location and classes that can be attended in person, but which also offers online-only programs. You could start by looking into the online options available through the local community colleges/institutes. If you want to study something not covered by any of those, search online (or Ask a Librarian) for programs that would better meet your needs, and then see whether they have a physical campus as well as an online option. If all else fails, at least make sure to carefully checked any online school's accreditation status; paying to get a degree will be no good to you if employers and other schools won't accept it. And actually, we'll repeat that again: ALWAYS CHECK THE ACCREDITATION STATUS before paying giving anyone your money. If you're not sure how, we can help. One final thing to keep in mind is that, depending on what you study, in-person work may be required and a totally-online degree may not be possible. For instance, don't trust any program promising an all-online degree in something like mechanics, or any subject that cannot possibly be learned well without consistent in-person demonstrations and hands-on practice. Would you trust a hair stylist that had watches lots of YouTube videos but had never touched hair? Would you hire an electrical worker who had only ever looked at diagrams and never actually wired anything? At a certain point, it's just common sense that some things can only be learned by doing, so don't let an online-only college promise you the world if what they're offering isn't possible.

If you've chosen a school, then you're so close to getting started! As some final ways to prepare, you can check out our Financial Aid section for ideas on how to help with the cost of college, or you can look at tips on Planning for After College.

Best of luck!

Frances Banta Waggoner Community Library

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