International Student Affairs Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a community college, and how does it differ from a university?

A community college serves several purposes:

  • For students seeking a Bachelor's degree, it is the most economical way to complete the first two years of the degree and transfer to a university of their choice.
  • We provide skilled workforce training for those who seek to upgrade their skills to enhance preparedness for economic opportunity.
  • Southwest Tennessee Community College offers lower tuition rates, smaller classes, and more personalized instruction.
  • We also provide excellent English as a Second Language classes at lower cost tuition than most private schools and universities.

Do I have to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) test before I can be admitted to Southwest Tennessee Community College?

Yes, if your native language is something other than English, a TOEFL test is required.

Is an international student eligible to work?

Yes, you can work up to 20 hours on campus, if you are in good academic standing. Special permission to work off campus must be granted by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and your Designated School Official (DSO). After twelve hours in your major field of study you are eligible for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and in your last semester you may apply for Optical Practical Training (OPT). Please see the DSO for further info on these programs.

When does school start, and when should I physically be in town?

At Southwest Tennessee Community College, you can start school three (3) times a year: in January, in May, or in late August. We recommend that you be in Memphis two weeks prior to starting school, so you can get settled in before classes begin.

How many classes must I take?

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires international students take at least 12 semester hours, which is a full-time course of study, each fall and spring semester. Normally, four classes constitute twelve semester hours.

Do you have student clubs or organizations?

Yes we do! We have numerous student clubs and organizations for you to choose from. They are ethnically, academically, and socially diverse. This is a great way to make new friends and learn about college student activities.

Do I need health insurance?

Yes, Southwest require international students to purchase Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) Health Insurance. Please contact the DSO for further information.

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