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This summer, get ahead with college courses

Community colleges offer great opportunities to keep studying.

Your local community college is an excellent place to pick up some additional credits this summer, even if you're enrolled somewhere else.

Several types of people take advantage of the convenience and low costs of summer courses at community colleges, according to Penny Sawyer, director of admissions at Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell, Pa.

The biggest group is students who are enrolled in a degree program at a different institution the rest of the year. "They're looking to get a jump start on completing their degrees sooner rather than later, at a more affordable price," Sawyer says.

High school students who want a challenge -- and a taste of college-level work -- can also benefit from a summer course at their local community college. A third group is recent high school grads who will be entering the community college in the fall, but who want to get a head start on their program.

People going back to school for a master's in a new field may also benefit from economical courses at a community college to take care of prerequisites for their graduate studies. "For instance, if you have a degree in history but plan to go for a master's in nutrition, you'll need to take biology," Sawyer says. "Or if you want to get an MBA, you may need accounting or statistics before you start."

Know your credits




Students planning to use the credits they earn at the community college for a degree program at a different institution should do their homework in advance. "It's up to the home institution to decide what credits they will accept," Sawyer explains. "It's usually straightforward -- we have transfer agreements with many schools in the region -- but you should check before you take the class." Some schools may require preapproval, for instance.