Community colleges have "open admission"; that is, anyone may be admitted. They are supported with public funds, and their tuition costs substantially less than that of a traditional four-year public or private college or university. For these reasons, low-income students and students not yet academically prepared for a university curriculum are attracted to community colleges. Community college students can range in age from teenagers who just graduated high school to working adults taking classes at night to complete a degree.
A typical program at a community college involves two years' study leading to an Associate's degree or diploma. Upon successful completion, students may transfer to a four-year college or university to obtain a bachelor's degree. Certificates commonly cover a wide variety of vocational training in technical or otherwise specialized fields. A certificate generally takes less than two years to complete, and students who earn a certificate usually enter straight into the workforce.
Community colleges also offer a number of services to other members of the community, such as job placement, adult continuing-education classes, and developmental classes for children.