When looking into achieving a community college education there are many things to consider. Community colleges are generally conveniently placed, making it easy to find something that is in your community and, therefore, able to meet your convenience needs. Some people go the route of community college education online. The beauty of engaging in community college classes is they offer the ability to get a number of needs met. Some people take one class a year, slowly working towards their goals, while others are on a fast track to transfer to a four-year accredited college or university. Some people take classes at their local community college for personal enrichment, or to up the skills needed for their current career.
How We Ranked the Best Community Colleges for 2022
The College Consensus Best Community Colleges 2022 ranking features only accredited community colleges and technical colleges. For the Consensus ranking, we combined community college rankings from Wallet Hub, Niche, and Grad Reports.
This combination of data gives prospective students a sense of how real graduates view the value of their community college experience. Our ranking of the 2022 Best Community Colleges describes the programs and unique qualities of some of the country’s best schools.
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College of San Mateo
Since 1922, the College of San Mateo in California’s Silicon Valley has provided educational prep for careers, professional advancement, university transfer, etc.
College of San Mateo has a comprehensive curriculum that runs the gamut from Accounting to Sociology degrees. You have a wide choice of majors, including math and science, language arts, nursing, humanities, and more. Over 10,000 students enjoy active student opportunities in campus life, competitive men’s and women’s sports events, clubs, and organizations.
Two-year degrees at CSM include Associate of Arts (AA) and Associate of Science (AS), as well as the Associate in Arts Degree for Transfer (AA-T) or the Associate in Science Degree for Transfer (AS-T) as academic tracks to apply to the California State University (CSU).
Of Note: The College of San Mateo counts politicians, professional athletes, and writers among its alumni
Kapiʻolani Community College sits on the island of Oahu in on beautiful Diamond Head, which opened in 1946 when Hawaii was still a territory.
Now part of the University of Hawaii System, over 6,600 students attend this nationally recognized college. The school’s programs are standouts in the study of business, arts and sciences, legal education, hospitality, and healthcare. The school is home to the award-winning Culinary Institute of the Pacific.
Kapi‘olani Community College offers online learning with Associate degrees available with concentrations in Hawaiian Studies, Business Administration, Secondary Education, Social Work, etc. Other pathways include Information Technology, Paralegal, Human Development, Family Studies, etc.
Of Note: Kapi‘olani CC has a diverse student population with students from over 100 countries enrolled
This California community college is located about 75 miles north of Sacramento. Butte College offers everything any of its 17,000 students could want, from academics to an active student life.
Academics at BU include over 200-degree studies in Public Health and Human Services, Business Arts and Design, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), Social and Behavioral Studies and Communications, and Industrial Technologies and Agriculture. The school has a library available online and in-person which provides students access to articles, books, textbooks, and more. The library also offers laptop and wi-fi check-outs.
Butte College gives students a well-rounded experience outside of the classroom with a strong student government, student clubs, athletics, etc.
Of Note: This community college is a national leader in sustainability with 25,000 solar panels, green jobs development, LEED-certified buildings, and renewable energy
Here’s another member of the Hawaiian University System, Kaua’i Community College opened as a vocational school in 1926.
Today, Kaua’i CC offers lower-division transfer courses for students wanting to transfer to a 4-year university or college. The school provides over 50-degree programs with several pathways in accounting, liberal arts, nursing, education, culinary arts, and more.
The college has Student Services that include library access, academic advising and counseling, student computer workstations and Chromebook check-out, and tutoring services. The Hale Mālama Care Center provides mental health counseling and supports programs. Uniquely, the school offers Human Needs (Support & Outreach Services), providing various personal assistance.
Of Note: The only higher education institute on the Hawaiian island of Līhuʻe
Calling Alexandria, Minnesota home, Alexandria Technical and Community College is a two-year public college offering Associate degrees, certificates, workforce development training, and diploma programs.
This college has 44 program majors available in areas designed to prepare students for the workforce or advancement to a 4-year college or university. Beyond academics, the college has a vibrant Customized Training Center (CTC) providing training opportunities in Fire Training, Farm Business Management, Nursing Assistant, and Senior College featuring a substantial lecture series on various topics.
ATCC offers, in collaboration with funding partners, the Retraining, Academic Instruction, and Skills Enhancement (RAISE) initiative. RAISE provides educational opportunities for Douglas County, MN residents regardless of cost.
Of Note: The college recently joined with Thomas Edison State University to provide a pathway for Alexandria College graduates to transfer into the university’s Nuclear Energy Engineering Technology program
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One of California’s best and largest community colleges, Mt. San Antonio College, has educated over 1.5 million students since its 1946 opening. California students pay one of the lowest tuitions of any school and offer nearly 400 flexible degree and certificate programs.
Academic and training programs are offered in-person or online and include Associate degrees and Associate degrees for transfer and Certificate and Career Training programs. Students have access to 25 support programs in tutoring, transfer services, daycare, academic and career advising, and student health services. Along with support programs, students have access to over 60 clubs in various areas to enrich their college experience.
Of Note: This community college has supported The Randall Planetarium at Mt. SAC since 1968 and maintains the 35-foot-diameter hemispherical dome for students as well as area communities
The public, two-year Santa Rosa Junior College offers associates degrees and workforce training programs. SRJC has a range of degree majors in agriculture, math, creative arts, health sciences, environmental studies, business, computer science, etc. SRJC works with community businesses and offers employee certificate training options. The college has programs for older adults and adult basic education classes for individuals for lifelong learning experiences.
Depending on the program, students can attend in-person or online. The school provides well-rounded student services, with assistance in financial aid, help for educationally disadvantaged students, counseling, disability resources, international student help, tutoring, etc. Santa Rosa Junior College is extremely student-centric and is dedicated to providing a well-rounded college experience for all its students.
Of Note: Santa Rosa Junior College celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2018
North Dakota State College of Science opened in 1903 and is the second oldest, residential community college in the nation. The school has campuses in Fargo and Wahpeton and an active online academic program.
The school’s 90 Career Pathways has academic programming that includes 34-degree programs, as well as 8 diplomas, and certificate programs in 14 areas. Academics are organized in occupational clusters. A snapshot demonstrates studies in education and training, health sciences, agriculture, natural resources, information technology, culinary arts, and more. Students have access to over 30 clubs and organizations and can attend cheer for the school games in football, basketball (men and women), softball, volleyball, and baseball teams.
Of Note: Nearly half of the Wahpeton full-time students live in campus residence halls.
Approximately 30 miles north of San Diego, California, is the main San Marcos campus of Palomar College. The college also has educational centers in Fallbrook, Escondido, and Rancho Bernado, with four additional education sites.
Palomar College has been training and educating Californians since 1945. Students can choose from over 200 associate and certificate programs. Programs are organized in divisions such as Counseling Services, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Arts, Media, and Business Administration.
Palomar College has a diverse student community and offers a fitness center, children of Palomar College students, faculty, and staff have access to childcare, food pantry, athletics, as well as the arts, an arboretum, and more.
Of Note: Palomar College has an enrollment of nearly 25,000 full-time and part-time students
Located in Appleton, Wisconsin, Fox Valley Technical College has been open for over a century and now provides over 200 programs of high-tech occupational training designed for today’s workplace.
Along with academic associate degree programs, FVTC offers diplomas and certifications. Whether you’re looking to train for a career in culinary arts and hospitality, management and finance, health sciences, manufacturing, engineering, etc., you’re apt to find it at this community college. The college also provides apprentice programs in various trades (plumbing, electrical, tool and die, maintenance, and more). Going a step further, this college supports the Venture Center, offering seminars and training programs for business startups.
Of Note: Uniquely, this top community college offers an Aeronautics pilot training program
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In 1955, Cerritos College was established on 135 acres in Norwalk, CA, providing an educational option for Los Angeles county. Today, the school boasts nearly 22,000 students and 87 degree and certificate programs in the 180 areas of study.
This is another California community college that offers low tuition for California residents, which helps make a 4-year California university more affordable. Cerritos College has a solid commitment to its students’ development and success. This college caters to first-generation college students and offers numerous services from veterans affairs, counseling, student health, and more. The school has won multiple awards for its academic excellence and its faculty members’ work with students and extracurricular programs.
Of Note: Cerritos College is 9th in the top 25 community colleges with the highest Hispanic enrollment in the country
You might find it hard to study at California’s Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa which is near Southern California’s famous beaches. Established in 1947, this school now has an enrollment of 22,000 students each semester. OCC offers 135 career and academic programs, with nearly half of the students enrolled in Career and Technical Education programs. The college uses Guided Pathways, which develops a structured plan and supportive services to help students succeed in their studies.
This OCC ranks as the top college in Orange County and the state of California. OCC was the first community college in Southern California to feature student housing.
Of Note: Orange Coast College has one of the nation’s largest and most recognized public nautical programs
Maryland’s Anne Arundel Community College receives high marks from the nation’s ranking services and professional organizations.
Students can choose credit or noncredit programs from the college’s 11 “Fields of Interest” in Health and Human Services, Law and Criminal Justice, Business, Science, Technology, and more. Classes are taught by doctorally prepared faculty members with real-world experiences. Students have access to support services, college organizations and clubs, internships, athletics, and study abroad programs.
AACC is a consortium member with four universities, allowing students to earn their bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Anne Arundel Community College.
Of Note: ACCC is Maryland’s largest single-campus community college with a student enrollment of over 35,000
Whether online or in-person, students in the LaCrosse, Wisconsin, area have access to a quality community college at Western Technical College. Established in 1912, WTC has grown to include six regional campuses and offers over 100 associate degrees, certificates, and technical diplomas.
WTC has introduced Competency Based Education (CBE) which gives students greater flexibility in their studies, pacing, and credit for prior learning and experience. Academic programs are divided into clusters in several areas such as Education and Training, Associate of Arts and Sciences, Human Services, Information Technology, Transportation, Distribution and Logistics and several more.
Students can also find non-traditional career support at WTC for career options where men and women represent less than 25% of the workplace.
Of Note: WTC provides real-world apprenticeships in the school’s Apprenticeship and Industry Training Center
One of the first things you see on the San José, California Evergreen Valley College website is, “At Evergreen Valley College, we’re all about our students…”
Evergreen Valley College has six educational pathways in Health and Human Services, Behavioral Sciences and Humanities, Industrial Technology and Transportation, Arts and Media, Business, and STEM. Students are supported in every step of their education with one-on-one navigation of the college system, guided pathways providing tools as students advance through their programs, as well as resources to meet basic needs such as housing, food, mental health assistance, etc.
Associate degrees and certificates are awarded.
Of Note: In Spring 2022, EVC offers free tuition and zero student fees for all California residents
Carroll Community College is one of Maryland’s best and has been providing low-cost education for over 3,000 students in the Westminster area since the early 1970s.
Offering two-year associate degrees, professional job training, certificates, and personal enrichment programs, Carroll Community College is student oriented and offers courses in-person or online. Associate degree graduates have transferred to over 800 4-year universities and colleges across the country. Or, students are job-ready to enter the workforce or advance in their current careers with new skills.
The college provides a comprehensive slate of student resources, including clubs and organizations, leadership opportunities, and volunteer programs.
Of Note: Carroll Community College offers lively extracurricular programs, including athletics, music, theatre, and art exhibits
Located in beautiful Shoreline, Washington, near Seattle, Shoreline Community College was established in 1964 and has grown to nearly 9,000 enrolled students and approximately 6,000 enrolled each quarter.
Student educational pathways are divided into primary adult education and professional training/technical certification and taught by one of over 500 faculty members. The school supports a curriculum that includes associate degrees in Child Development, Music, Manufacturing Engineering, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Nursing.
Campus life at SCC includes on-campus housing, theatre, organizations, clubs, etc. Students also enjoy on-campus food services, a comprehensive library, personal and career advising, and a multicultural center promoting diversity and inclusion.
Of Note: Students from over 50 countries make up the student body attending in-class or online
Since 1961, State Technical College of Missouri has always been devoted to the success of its students from the very beginning of their State Tech experience.
Known in Missouri as the “Employers’ Choice,” this school has a remarkable 99% job placement rate and an impressive 73% graduation rate (higher than any other school in Missouri). Students have options to study business, agriculture, construction, health sciences, industrial and transportation technology, and more. Associate degrees and technical certificates are available, and students have access to support services.
State Tech sits on 500 acres with desirable amenities and opportunities. The bucolic campus provides on-campus housing, an activity center, a library, a swimming pool, on-campus lakes (and fishing!), and more. The school is situated close to the Lake of the Ozark and its many activities.
Of Note: To demonstrate State Tech’s “Employers’ Choice” tag, over 500 employers partner with the school to the benefit of State Tech students.
Providing education for students in the South Bay area of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Harbor College offers 2-year academic programs transferrable to 4-year institutions. Additionally, LAHC occupational training programs.
Degree-oriented students have a wide choice in sciences, journalism, astronomy, culinary arts, oceanography, physical sciences, etc. Students seeking certification or technical training can study office administration, business, computer technology, nursing, etc.
LAHC works to empower its student body with support services in academic and mental counseling, tutoring, and a computer lab for students with special needs.
Of Note: With 2,300 enrolled students, LAHC can offer personalized attention
As a conduit for students to enter over 2,000 4-year colleges and universities across the nation, Honolulu Community College is part of the University of Hawaiʻi system.
Founded in 1920, the main HCC campus awards an Associate of Arts liberal arts degree. Campuses close to the Honolulu International Airport and Sand Island provide Associate in Science, Associate in Applied Science, Associate in Technical Studies degrees, and over 20 Career and Technical Education certificates. Students don’t lack support at this college. Academic and degree planning advising, career and job services, and financial and food services are readily available. The Student Life and Development Office supports campus events and has something for everyone.
Of Note: Distance education is available for students requiring scheduling flexibility.
There are two locations for Yuba College, the main campus in Marysville, CA, and a center at the Sutter County Center located in Yuba City.
Part of the Yuba County Community District since 1927, YCC uses guided pathways to structure student onboarding, clearly mapped, individual academic development, career management, etc., for associate degrees and certificates. Studies in healthcare, math and science, public safety, fine arts, social sciences, and more are among the academic programs available.
Yuba College has an active campus community, with activities in athletics, clubs, theatre, fine arts, numerous clubs, etc. Students also have support in tutoring, academic advising, library services, and much more.
Of Note: Yuba College welcomes Dreamers, AB540, and DACA students
This is considered the best community college in Maryland and has over 140 degrees, programs, and certificates. Over 400 credit classes are offered online.
Montgomery College has locations in Germantown, Takoma Park/Silver Spring, and Rockville and boasts a diverse student population. The school is consistently recognized as providing the best associate degrees, online programs, and a veteran friendly school. Montgomery College is more than a school; it considers itself a community with services to help students get the most out of their collegiate experience. Students have access to health and wellness services, student clubs and organizations, volunteer opportunities, athletics, etc. The college provides library and food services, campus stores (including bookstores), and transportation/parking.
Of Note: 40% of the school’s full-time faculty hold doctoral degrees
In 1970, Howard Community College joined the community colleges in Maryland with two-year associate degrees and one-year certificates.
Located in Columbia, MD, HCC has over 30,000 students who enjoy studying in one of the school’s academic divisions, with options ranging from the arts and humanities, health sciences, sciences, education, and social sciences. Coursework is offered in-person, online, or hybrid opportunities, and the school has a very supportive 19:1 student-faculty ratio. HCC offers “earn while you learn” apprenticeship pathways in biomedical engineering, electrical skills, construction management, HVAC, information technology, and software development.
HCC students have access to an array of support services such as tutoring, a fitness center, a wellness center, recreation, and much more.
Of Note: The average age of a Howard Community College is 24
With nearly 300 degree and certificate programs, City College of San Francisco has something for every one of the school’s 60,000 full-time and part-time students.
CCSF provides free tuition for any San Francisco resident. Established in 1935, CCSF now has eleven locations throughout San Francisco and prides itself on being an essential part of the city. The school offers an online option for many classes anywhere in California. Through the Technology Learning Center (TLC), CCSF offers technology education and applications training for non-degree-seeking students.
This school supports its students with all manner of help, from academic counseling to career counseling and everything in between. Students can also utilize health services and wellness/fitness along with clubs, organizations, art activities, etc.
Of Note: This school welcomes DACA students and serves as a Sanctuary College
Opened in 1945, Los Angeles’ Pierce College is situated in the San Fernando Valley on 426 acres. The school is proud of its suburban campus environment with a forest of 2,000 trees (including giant redwoods), a nature preserve, as well as a botanical garden. The school is also true to its agricultural college roots and maintains a 200 acre “farm in the city.”
This school offers 85 academic degree programs in 145 disciplines for its over 20,000 students and has an increasing roster of non-credit and free certificates. Pierce College has one of the highest transfer performance rates in Southern California. Through the Los Angeles College Promise, Pierce College guarantees admission for first-year, fulltime students and waives tuition fees.
Of Note: Pierce College has an impressive 87% acceptance rate of its honors students to UCLA in 2021
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Located in the scenic San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles Valley College opened in 1949 and is within spitting distance of Hollywood, Santa Monica beaches, Beverly Hills, and Malibu.
California residents can attend this public, two-year college at a base tuition cost of $46 per unit. Besides the 140 associate degree and certificate programs, this school has a terrific reputation for its vocational programs in business, nursing, computer science, and others. A $704 million renovation and expansion program is underway featuring new buildings.
The school offers classes during the day, evening, or online and offers special support services for veterans, first-time students, Dreamers/DACA, educationally disadvantaged, etc.
Of Note: LAVC honors students have a 90% transfer acceptance at 4-year colleges and universities
Founded in 1959 in Sheldon, Iowa, as a vocational training pilot program, Northwest Iowa Community College has grown into a school providing on-campus, hybrid, and online educational programs.
Today, NICC offers over 40 programs and services, including associate degrees and certification. Among the studies presented are manufacturing, health, and transportation. Northwest Iowa Community College commits to its community and provides economic development, outreach programs, and training solutions for local businesses and the community.
A recent $14.1 million funding referendum supports several infrastructure and academic improvements for NICC. The school plans to grow its training for the local community, enhance educational opportunities for veterans, and answer the demand for training and education of healthcare professionals.
Of Note: Northwest Iowa Community College receives national recognition for its high graduation rates
Santa Fe College isn’t located in New Mexico as you might assume, but in Gainesville, Florida, and has been offering associate degrees and certificates since 1966,
From a modest 1,000 student enrollment on a single campus when it opened, Santa Fe College has grown to over 12,000 students in three locations. It offers in-person and online associate, bachelor, and certificate programs. The school has a wealth of programs of study in sciences, liberal arts, health professions, education, information technologies, computer science, etc. Santa Fe College also has a trades educational commitment.
Students at Santa Fe College have access to various activities, including a teaching zoo, fine arts, Museum of Earth Science, art galleries, the Jean Klein Rock Cycle Garden, and the Kika Silva Pla Planetarium.
Of Note: Santa Fe College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
Northern Virginia Community College, nicknamed NOVA, is the largest community college in the country, with a whopping 80,000 students spread over its six campuses (Annandale, Manassas, Woodbridge, Loudoun, Alexandria, and MEC). That doesn’t include the educational center in Reston and NOVA Online.
Over 150 countries are represented in NOVA’s student body enrolled in one of the 160 associate and certificate programs. NOVA’s resources support students in academic advising, military support and outreach, mental health and wellness, accessibility, etc.
Student life at NOVA offers a multitude of activities for every interest. Clubs and organizations range from special interests, cultural, athletics, and governmental/political. NOVA also commits to the arts, theatre, and other creative outlets.
Of Note: NOVA has a solid commitment to accessibility and accommodations for students with special considerations
Largo, Maryland has been home to Prince George’s Community College since 1958 and the school has grown to five locations.
A snapshot of PGCC shows a student enrollment of 11,357 enrolled in associate degrees in allied health and nursing, business, liberal arts, education, technology, and several more. Continuing Education certificate programs are also offered for professional and personal growth. For students who weren’t able to finish high school, PGCC has free GED preparation. For adults 60 years or older, the school has the SAGE (Seasoned Adults Growing Educationally), offering free non-credit and credit programs.
The school coordinates community volunteer experiences, athletic opportunities, social and academic clubs, as well as tutoring services.
Of Note: PGCC is located in the greater Washington DC area
As the first technical school in South Dakota, Lake Area Technical College will celebrate its 55th anniversary in 2022.
From a modest start, LATC has grown into an area leader with a study body of 2600 students and 31 programs (12 of which are online.) The college awards associate degrees, diplomas, and certificates in a wide range of nursing, agriculture, law enforcement, building trades and technology, medical assisting, computer technology, robotics, and many more.
Located in Watertown, SD, LATC students don’t miss out on the school community experience with options in clubs and organizations, drone racing eSports clubs, and others. Counseling services are readily available, as are health and disability services. Studying online? No worries. LATC extends student support services to virtual students as well.
Of Note: 99% of LATC’s 22,000 graduates are continuing their education or are employed
Calling Branchburg, NJ home, Raritan Valley Community College is rightfully proud of its national reputation as the best community college in New Jersey.
Annual enrollment at RVCC is approximately 6,700 students (2021-22) attending in-person or online. The college’s most popular associate degrees are liberal arts, business, health sciences (specifically nursing), and social sciences. Students continuing their education frequently go on to attend New Jersey’s Rutgers University, Montclair State University, and Kean University, among the top schools.
RVCC believes college is more than just classes and exams. In addition to student organizations and clubs, students can enjoy campus events in performing arts, dances, athletic events, and many more. The college provides student services with tutoring, child care, career counseling, and discounts on campus and the Branchburg community.
Of Note: RVCC has a diverse student body and a near-equal gender population
In 1924, Pasadena City College opened its doors in the San Gabriel Valley to 267 students. Today, the college is home to nearly 30,000 students earning associate degrees and certificates and engaged in transfer programs.
Considered one of the best community colleges in California, PCC offers more than 105 areas of academic study. Students can enroll in what the college identifies as career pathways in liberal arts, arts, communication & design, STEM, business, health sciences, and social & behavioral sciences. Certificates are offered in training programs and/or occupational skills. Hundreds of classes are offered as distance education for students who need scheduling flexibility.
As with other community colleges, PCC provides students with educational and social support with counseling, tutoring, and special services.
Of Note: 57% of PCC students have their tuition waived or reduced
Wisconsin’s Moraine Park Technical College is an expansive college with three campuses and two regional centers.
This college offers more than 100 associate of applied sciences degrees, certificates, apprenticeships, or technical diplomas, which are provided in various formats in-person, online, or hybrid. Career clusters of programs include studies in finance, architecture, health sciences, hospitality and tourism, STEM, and manufacturing, among them. Boot camps provide certificates through the college’s Manufacturing Skills Academies, offering pathways for six areas.
MPTC believes college activities benefit students’ academic success and provide dedicated Student Life Specialists on each campus who coordinate activities. Students also have access to counseling services, tutoring, employment services, etc.
Of Note: Over 83% of graduates find employment within six months of graduation in their field
Golden West College students will be within a stone’s throw of Huntington Beach’s “Surf City.”
Academic programs at GWC encompass pathways in STEM, health sciences, visual and performing arts, education, business, etc. Career education studies include programs such as automotive technology, health information technology, nursing, etc. The college has a well-earned reputation and has an open admission policy. If students are 18 years old and have a high school diploma or equivalent, they’re welcome at GWC.
This vibrant campus has student activities and resources readily available in academic and career counseling, tutoring, and a writing and reading center. Social activities are abundant at this school as well as in the Huntington Beach community.
Of Note: GWC is dedicated to student safety and well being and offers services for those at risk of food anxiety or homelessness
Joining the ranks of quality schools in Hawaii is Windward Community College, located in Kāne‘ohe, within the city of Honolulu. The college supports on-campus, evening, and online studies.
The school offers a varied slate of programs, including an online associate degree in business, CNA training, Information Security Specialist certificate, Hawaiian studies associate degree, performing and visual arts, veterinary technology, and a marine option program providing networking opportunities with the marine education. WCC respects the history and culture of Hawaii and awards an associate degree in Hawaiian studies and certificates in Hawaiian music and dance.
This campus has a bookstore, counseling center, childcare center, library, as well as a career center, peer mentoring center, and other services to support its students.
Of Note: A small school with a little over 2,5000 students, Windward Community College offers personalized attention
With four campuses and online options, Minnesota State Community and Technical College have students’ academic and career success as the number one priority.
Established in 1960, MSCTC offers six areas of study, associate degree transfer, award associate degrees, certificates, and diplomas. Classes are presented on one of the campuses in Detroit Lakes, Wadena, Fergus Falls, Moorhead, MN, or online. The Fergus Falls campus has on-campus housing, while students at the Moorhead campus can live in on-campus residence halls at nearby Minnesota State University Moorhead.
An MSCTC student is never far from academic support and student services. Student services are offered in basic needs support, veterans support, counseling, and social workers. Each campus sponsors clubs and organizations and offers men’s and women’s athletics in several sports.
Of Note: There are 30 online majors and programs available at MSCTC
Naugatuck Valley Community College is a two-year public college with a 110-acre campus in Waterbury, CT, and a 20,000 sq ft facility in Danbury, making the college easily accessible for students.
NVCC’s top programs are nursing, business management, computer information systems, psychology (CSCU transfer), and general studies. The majority of the 4,815 enrolled students attend part-time, with the average student age between 18-and 21. In addition to associate degrees, students can earn certificates in one of the many safety training and workforce education programs. Certifications and training can be obtained in roles from computer web design, event planner, and healthcare technicians and assistants programs.
Students can sign out laptops and take advantage of counseling and tutorial services, onsite childcare, and other college-supported help.
Of Note: Ed2Go offers online career training and accelerated non-credit courses in computers, non-profit management, personal development, and more
Located in Mission Viejo, California, considered one of the nation’s 50 best places to live (Money Magazine), Saddleback College has educated over 500,000 students since it opened in 1968.
The college has 190 program areas offering over 270 associate degrees, occupational skills training, and certificates. Students at SC are given opportunities to study abroad, participate in cooperative work experiences, or study online. Saddleback College is in the top 10 of California community colleges in transfers to 4-year colleges and universities and ranks first in students transferring to schools such as USC, UC Berkley, UCLA, and others.
As one would expect from a flourishing community college, students at Saddleback College have open access to a variety of services and educational support.
Of Note: Saddleback College has one of the most progressive arts programs in cinema, theatre, music, etc. among California community colleges
With nine online programs, transfer options, six academic pathways with 90 degree and certification options, and in-person classes, it’s little wonder St. Cloud Technical Community College is one of the best in Minnesota’s community colleges. SCTCC customizes continuing education and workplace training as well as personal enrichment classes.
The St. Cloud campus features dining services, a bookstore, and a library. Students have support in academic and nonacademic advising, mental health services, tutoring, and other help when needed. While housing isn’t available on campus, the college has an arrangement with close by St. Cloud State University to offer a limited number of dormitory rooms for SCTCC students. Students facing food insecurity have the Cyclone Cupboard Food Pantry or can donate food for fellow students.
Of Note: 96% of graduates find work in their fields
Rightfully proud of being named the best community college in Connecticut, Northwestern Connecticut Community College, might be small with 1299 students, but mighty in academic pathways and an enviable 14:1 student-teacher ratio.
Students can choose from 23 fields to earn associate degrees or certificates. The most popular disciplines are liberal arts, the humanities, engineering technology, and health-related professions. One or two-year certificates offered are in business, communication, education, computer science, etc., preparing students for professional advancement.
NCC offers distance education, on-campus classes at the Winstead campus, and numerous student services. The college also provides employment services for students.
Of Note: Students may receive academic credit for life experiences
In 1967, Aims Community College opened in Greeley, CO. Today, the “aim” of Aims Community College is to provide accessible education. and has expanded to encompass four campuses in Greeley, Loveland, Fort Lupton, and Windsor campuses.
Over 200 associate degrees and certificates help make up the school’s broad academic offerings. The college features training and enrichment programs in professional development as well as personal enrichment courses for lifelong learners. Whether looking to advance in a current job or maintain certification in employment, ACC can help. The college has custom corporate training with ACC community and industry partners.
Of Note: The college has a College for Kids (C4K) during the summer designed to introduce career possibilities for 13-15 year olds
As the first independent, New Mexico junior college, New Mexico Junior College, located in the small town of Hobbs, NM. NMJC capitalized on its small size to have a big presence with its online and in-class presence in the community.
The college has popular programs in nursing, liberal art and humanities, mechanic and repair technologies offered on-campus or online. There are hundreds of online courses offering associate degrees, basic adult education and online seminars. Students have access to NMJC’s library whether on-campus or online. While you study, you can tune into the school’s KNMJ radio, with playsets from the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 2000s.
Of Note: The Hobbs campus hosts the Western Heritage Museum dedicated to the heritage of Southeast New Mexico and West Texas
With over 200 transfer agreements with more than 60 colleges and universities, the College of Southern Maryland is a good choice for students wanting to go to a four-year school. But that’s not all. There’s a broad range of excellent programs in the six Guided Pathways in humanities, science, health, education, business, or trades training. Associate degrees, workforce training, or certifications are offered.
CSM has four campuses, each providing student services in tutoring, academic support, libraries, disability support, and much more. Academics aren’t all CSM provides its over 18,000 enrolled students, and offers theatre, music, and art activities. Clubs and organizations help round out the college experience.
Of Note: CSM is the sixth largest community college in Maryland
For more than 50 years, Capital Community College in downtown Hartford, CT, has provided higher education opportunities with over 60 associate degrees and certificates and online and in-person classes. Continuing education and workforce training in computers, security, healthcare, social services, and trades. Additional professional development classes are available in business, grant writing, etc.
Academic offerings are in the humanities, health and public safety, science and mathematics, nursing, and social and behavioral sciences. Students have access to the college’s Academic Success Center with tutoring, tech support, and academic skills support. The college offers a library featuring a wealth of services with books, articles, newspaper subscriptions, wifi access, and study rooms.
Of Note: Two mentoring programs, Sister-2-Sister and Brother-2-Brother, assist in the academic success of Black and Latina students
In Central Minnesota, is Central Lakes College which began in 1938 and now boasts a student enrollment in excess of 5,000 with campuses in Brainerd and Staples.
The school is an open entry college, where students can choose from ten career areas in liberal arts, law enforcement, dental and nursing, business, information technology, and many more programs. Associate degrees and certificates are available with classes offered on-campus and online. The college’s varied academic programs are sure to meet the needs of any student.
With a wealth of campus clubs, an on-campus theatre open to both CLC students as well as the community, the college also provides academic support with a library and tutoring centers.
Of Note: Students have access to basic needs help from CLC including child care, emergency food and housing, mental health, and legal services
Offering associate degrees in over 40 disciplines, continuing education non-credit programs, and certificates, Manchester Community College in Manchester, CT, has graduated more than 25,000 since 1965. Today, more than 15,000 students enroll each year at the college.
MCC has transfer agreements with Connecticut State Universities, guaranteeing admission to Manchester Community College graduates. Students have transferred to 100 public and private schools across the country. The college’s continuing education division highlights professional career, and workforce development, and personal enrichment for learning for learning’s sake, making this the best community college.
Of Note: MCC’s Great Path Academy offers college-ready high school students an opportunity to experience college life and classes
As a small college in Devils Lake, North Dakota, Lake Region State College, this school prides itself on its diverse student population representing 15 countries and 34 states.
Students aren’t just numbers at LRSC, whether attending on-campus, online, or at one of the school’s outreach centers. With associate degrees, diplomas, certificates of completion, and workplace certificates, students at this college have choices in disciplines in liberal arts, nursing, law enforcement, business, and others.
Students enjoy a supportive environment with access to advising, counseling, and computer support. On-campus athletics and student organizations are, in significant part, similar to those of four-year schools.
Of Note: Lake Region State College has three residence halls which are unusual for a community college
Southwest Wisconsin Technical College believes they “…improve lives through excellence in learning.” In addition to evening and weekend classes, SWTC also has a 100% online option.
Students can earn technical diplomas, apprenticeships, associate degrees, continuing education classes, and career pathways. The school has a wealth of career clusters to choose from, sure to meet the needs of nearly every student. Prospective students are encouraged to visit the Fennimore campus. The school has library services with both remote and on-campus accessibilities. Career Services offers help in finding a job with support in resume writing, interviewing, and tools for success.
Of Note: SWTC credits transfer and prior learning
Sheridan College is part of the Northern Wyoming Community College District. Students can attend in-person or enroll in one of the 18 online degrees and certificates. Located at the foot of the magnificent Bighorn Mountains, outdoor activities are abundant in camping, fishing, hiking, etc. The campus features on-campus housing, food services, activities and clubs, and a student center.
Sheridan College has an impressive roster of academic and training programs and is considered one of the best community colleges in the nation. Academic and support services are available for veterans services, tutoring, counseling, and a testing center. On-campus library services and a bookstore are available.
Of Note: Sheridan College sponsors intercollegiate, men and women’s award-winning rodeo teams
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Why Attend a Community College?
Community colleges first began in the early 1900s, and at the time, were considered little more than advanced high school education. The colleges eventually added vocational training centers. By the 1960s and ’70s, community colleges experienced tremendous growth in educational offerings and student enrollment. Today, more than 12.4 million students are enrolled in community college programs.
Whatever it is that is bringing you to look at community colleges, it is a great idea to ensure you are looking at quality programming. The way to do this is to consider programs that are accredited, as they have undergone a comprehensive vetting process. The community colleges near you might not offer the specializations you are searching for, so you might need to cast a wider net, though chances are, the regionally accredited school in your area could just fit the bill.
Community Colleges award certificates for professional licensure, vocational and workplace training, continuing education, etc. Students seek credentials to develop or improve skills to enhance their job opportunities. One or two-year certificates are popular in healthcare, computer, information, mechanics, transportation, etc. Businesses and industries will frequently partner with community colleges to provide customized employee training.
Associate Degrees are stand-alone degrees or gateways to a bachelor’s degree. Community colleges typically have transfer agreements with four-year schools to accept general education credits, allowing students to enter the college or university as third-year students.
Cost and Benefits
The cost to attend four-year colleges and universities is significant and this is where community colleges shine. Twenty states offer free tuition through special scholarships, grants, or special “promise” programs at community colleges for qualifying residents earning an Associate Degree or technical training. Sometimes, states also offer significantly reduced tuition, as in the case of California, which offers a remarkable $46 per credit hour tuition. Federal Student Aid is available for qualifying students.
Depending on where you live, an Associate Degree can translate to higher pay with an annual median salary of almost $53,000 (indeed.com, March 2021).
How Do I Choose a Community College?
There are many ways to go about choosing a community college. Of course, it is helpful to begin by looking at the best community colleges in the USA. Most people, when attending community colleges, look for schools in their region. In many cases, people turn to community college for an easeful transition into academic life, affordability, accessibility, and programming that is in service of larger academic and career goals. With that being said there are many best community colleges in the United States scattered throughout the country. Because many community colleges have partnerships with four-year colleges and universities scattered throughout the country, it makes it easier to attend a community college that is in a relationship with the college or university that you want to attend. In addition, it is important that you look for an academic program that is fully accredited. Accreditation means the program has been vetted for quality and reliability. Accreditation ensures the programming will be respected and, therefore, easily transferable.
What is a Community College, and What Makes them Different?
You might wonder what is a community college? Well, a community college definition generally implies the school is a public government-funded institution that grants two-year degrees and in many cases certificates. In most cases, the definition of a community college also includes a school that has open enrollment. This means there are no exams required for admission nor is there a selection process. They are often designed to support students to transfer to four-year granting colleges and universities.
The other fact about most community colleges is their affordability and program flexibility. There are often scholarship opportunities that make it a more accessible option, not to mention community college is an inherently cheaper option. In terms of flexibility, you can generally tailor your education according to your needs and goals. This means, in many cases you can pace your programming in a way that works for you, taking one class at a time or a full course load. In addition, community colleges generally offer a variety of non-credit courses enabling community members to have life enrichment opportunities.
How Much Does Community College Cost?
Community college costs are not one size fits all, though they are known to be much less expensive than traditional four-year colleges and universities. The average cost of community college is $5,330 for in-state tuition. This is of course variable and doesn’t account for housing and costs associated with being a student, including books and any student life fees.
What Can I Study at Community College?
A degree at community college is generally an associate’s of arts or sciences that can be transferred to a bachelor’s program. Be sure when selecting the community college that interests you that you look for the types of degrees in community college, ensuring they have something that relates to your interests. In some cases, people attend community colleges to achieve the necessary transferable general education classes.
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