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Best Community Colleges
Top 50 Junior Colleges 2021

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best community colleges 06

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. 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. 

Let’s take a deeper look here. We have compiled a list of the best community colleges in the country for you to get your feet wet on your search. All of these schools offer the proper accreditation, ensuring quality and easy transferability for those who want to ultimately move into a four-year degree program at an accredited college or university. There are some schools on this list that emphasize technical and trade schools, though there is another ranking with that focus. We have ranked these best community colleges according to the following metric:

  • Cost
  • Reputation
  • Student Success Rate

1

State Technical College of Missouri

Established in 1861, State Technical College of Missouri has always had a vision of excellence, This is at the top of our best community colleges list for a number of reasons including their state-granted status as an area vocational-technical school. On their main campus, not only will you find a serene park like setting, but you will also see 11 distinct buildings. It is not always the case that a two-year school offers housing, but this one stands out as having cottage-like student housing and comprehensive student life offerings. This includes an activity center and even an airport! Their library offers many community programs and a library lending service accessible to sites all over the state of Missouri. They pride themselves on their one hundred percent hands-on learning, with no online coursework. They have a variety of technical program offerings that have granted them the statistic of 99 percent job placement rate. It’s hard to beat that. 

Highlight: Over 500 Industry partners

2

College of San Mateo

The College of San Mateo is one of the best community colleges located in sunny San Mateo, California. It doesn’t hurt that it is at the northern edge of silicon valley, which offers many technical learning resources and hands-on opportunities for students. This comprehensive institution began offering classes in 1922 and has since undergone major expansions and transformations. It was established in order to offer an economic and academic alternative to a traditional four-year program. They offer a number of academic divisions including: business and technology, math and science, creative arts and social science, language arts, kinesiology, athletics and dance, and language arts. They also offer their students extensive support opportunities and special programming. They pride themselves on offering extensive resources that enrich the campus community, which include student life offerings. They also have an extensive virtual campus for those who are interested in studying online. 

Highlight: Unique programming, including UMOJA, a set of courses and community engagement activities that dive into the African American experience. 

3

De Anza College

De Anza College is a comprehensive community college located in Cupertino, California, the birthplace of apple computer and the epicenter of silicon valley. Their tagline is tops in transfer, which refers to their impeccable track record of students successfully transferring to four-year degree granting colleges and universities. Let’s look a little deeper at this highly ranked school on the best community colleges list: they offer 77 associate’s degrees, 1,800 unique classes including women’s studies, accounting, and economics, and they have 103 certificate programs. They have an excellent track record for transfers to the University of California and California state schools. Many successful students get their start here to save a little money while achieving their general education requirements and move on to big name four-year institutions of higher learning. They also have over 30 workforce-specific programs that make it easy to seamlessly enter a career program. 

Highlight: 77 associate’s degree programs

4

Las Positas College

Las Positas College is one of the best community colleges situated in Livermore, California. They were established in 1963 as an extension arm of Chabot College. They pride themselves on offering extensive financial aid options and centering their goal of allowing students to get an education with little to no debt. Another point of pride is the offering of small class sizes, which includes labs. All courses are taught by faculty members and not teaching assistants. Another point of interest is the contemporary state-of-the-art buildings and resources including a performing arts center and science and technology tools and spaces. High rates of transfer are recorded, including to the University of California and California state schools. They also offer an active student life, which includes over 30 athletic programs and schools. It also should be mentioned that their campus is simply beautiful and would make an easy place to relax in the sun. 

Highlight: Flexible class scheduling designed to meet the needs of extensive learner life circumstances

5

Orange Coast College

Smell the beach air anyone? Well, if you attend Orange Coast College that will be part of the fabric of your academic journey. The school on the list of best community colleges is minutes away from Southern California’s stunning beaches. This is not the only feature, however, as they offer over 135 plus career and academic programs and 29 distinct transfer and associate’s degree programs. This is a top-notch hotbed for students who are interested in a seamless transfer to some of California’s best state colleges and the University of California Schools. Originally established in 1947, they have come a long way. They emerged from a local vote to create a new academic epicenter that would serve the community on an existing 243-acre lot, part of the former Santa Ana Army Air Base. They pride themselves on centering an equitable learning environment for students that is packed with resources for student success. They are fully accredited by the accrediting commission for community and junior colleges. 

Highlight: They have many specialty accredited program offerings as well as external approval by recognized agencies

6

Northwest Iowa Community College

Northwest Iowa Community College offers a high quality academic experience that is dedicated to seeing each learning and meeting them where they are at. This is achieved by small class sizes with a 13:1 student to faculty ratio. That’s right each faculty member knows all of their students here. Their site prides itself on the fact that close to 100 percent of their student population achieves career success. Situated in Sheldon, Iowa, they serve the communities of Lyon, Sioux, O’Brien, Osceola, as well as half of Cherokee. They are fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Their academic programs are expansive, not only in content but delivery. You can even take classes online or in a hybrid format if that is your interest. They have many program offerings including: business/IT, electrical/construction, general studies/transfer, manufacturing, and transportation. 

Highlight: Many programs are offered both online and on-campus

7

Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture

Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture has a tagline Small Campus. Big Impact. There are many aspects of Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture that places it on the list of best community colleges. They are known for their accessibility and affordability while offering extensive programs that make it easy to seamlessly transfer to a four-year degree program. Residents and non-residents pay the same price: $139 per credit hour. It’s hard to beat that. They are leaders in agricultural education, and offer such majors as: agricultural production systems-agronomy and agricultural mechanics, agricultural production systems-animal science and agricultural education, agribusiness management systems, and veterinary technology systems. Their offerings enable students to achieve associate’s degrees related to veterinary technology, agriculture, as well as certificates and other credentials. They pride themselves on student centered learning. In addition, they have many offerings that enable students to get hands-on learning opportunities with animals. Their student to faculty ratio is low, so students can count on personal attention. 

Highlight: Hands-on animal husbandry opportunities 

8

Moorpark College

If you are looking for a beautiful place to study, Moorpark College clearly fits the bill. This option on the best community colleges list is known for fostering diversity and celebrating their students with visibility and accessible learning options. They were established in 1967 as one of the three colleges that make up the Ventura community college district. Their track record is spot on for students transferring from Moorpark to four-year colleges and universities in service of completing a bachelor’s degree. They have extensive resource offerings for students including counseling, tutoring, and student life offerings, beyond the coursework. Not to mention, they have a plethora of financial aid and scholarship opportunities to make education accessible to all students in their community. They utilize canvas as their learning management system, which makes it easy for students to navigate their coursework and communicate with faculty and other students. 

Highlight: Extensive learning opportunities from animal science to theater arts

9

Irvine Valley College

If you are looking for one of the best community colleges that offers a lot of personal attention, Irvine Valley College might be the perfect fit. They became an independent community college in 1985, but their original satellite campus was created in 1979. Their modern campus facilities are laid out on 60 acres of land. Their goal is to meet learners where they are in life. They do this by not only offering extensive financial aid but by structuring their classes to support the needs of learners with different life circumstances. They have evening, weekend, and daytime offerings as well as online options. They are fully accredited by multiple accrediting bodies including the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. Their student resources are extensive, including technology support, laptop loans, and a variety of other support services. They even have a food resources center, to ensure students have access to healthy food. 

Highlight: Extensive student resources including free legal support for citizenship related issues

10

Carroll Community College

Carroll Community College opened their doors in 1973 in response to a great need for academic resources in Carroll County. Located in Westminster, Maryland, they offer a lot of student centered opportunities for personal, academic, and professional enrichment opportunities to the Carroll County community. They offer an intimate learning environment for students interested in engaging in a myriad of disciplines, as they serve just over 9,000 students per year. Their most popular majors include: arts and sciences, general studies, business administration, nursing, and cybersecurity. The award just under around 500 associate’s degrees each year and have a high rate of transfer among their students who move on to attend four-year institutions of higher learning. In fact, they have a 100 percent transfer guarantee to Maryland public universities and colleges. Their average class size is 17 students, leaving lots of room for personal attention. 

Highlight: They offer over 70 different associate’s degree and certificate programs.

11

Shoreline Community College

Shoreline Community College is situated in picturesque Shoreline, Washington, just a stone’s throw from Seattle. They were established in 1964 and have grown exponentially since. They serve nearly 10,000 students per year and each quarter there are close to 6,000 enrolled students. The median student age is 23 years old. Half of their student body are enrolled full time while half are part-time students. They pride themselves on small class sizes with a student to faculty ratio of 18 to 1. They have a variety of degree and certificate programs within the following academic fields of study: arts and communication, business, health and medical, social sciences and education, science, technology, engineering, and math. Student support is integral to their mission. They have many resources available to students including a multi-cultural center, technology support services. And military and veterans support offerings. 

Highlight: Accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities 

12

Northern Wyoming Community College District (Sheridan College)

Sheridan College, which is part of the Northern Wyoming Community College District is situated in Sheridan, Wyoming. The name of the game at Sheridan is personal attention. They pride themselves on offering extensive resources that ensure each student will have what they need to thrive. Because they are a member of the Northern Wyoming Community College District, students at Sheridan have extensive offerings are far as classes go, because if Sheridan doesn’t have what you are looking for, a sister location is sure to. Surrounded by mountains and the ability to be outdoors most of the year, the quality of life on this campus is a big attraction. In fact, Outside Magazine has continually rated Sheridan one of the best towns in America. Additional perks of this school include affordability and transferability. Eighty five percent of their students receive some form of financial aid. 

Highlight: Over 50 academic programs to choose from

13

Mitchell Technical Institute

Mitchell Technical is situated in Mitchell South Dakota. Their programming is designed to offer new skill sets for a variety of learners that can be applied to a variety of technical careers. An amazing fact about this program is that ninety-nine percent of graduates are either employed or are enrolled in additional academic programs within six months of graduation. They offer one of the newest campuses in the area, packed with state-of-the-art equipment and resources. They are also known for being military-friendly. They were or originally established in 1968 and have since expanded their programming quite a bit. Another important fact is they are one of the best community colleges for a number of reasons including their commitment to affordable education. Ninety percent of their students receive financial aid. In addition, they have many student support services. 

Highlight: They offer 35 on campus programs and 4 online programs

14

Glendale Community College

Located in sunny Glendale, California, Glendale Community College is considered one of the best community colleges in the country. Glendale Community College was an idea in 1926, in an effort to make higher education more accessible to a variety of learners, not just the super wealthy. At the time it was part of the Glendale Unified School District. They had 139 students in their first semester with open doors. They grew exponentially along with the years. Today they serve over 25,000 students per year and offer a myriad of academic and technical programs designed to set students up for academic and professional success. They offer their students extensive financial aid options, including scholarships, grants, loans, and even payment plans. They have many academic divisions including: biology, business, social sciences, Technology and aviation, visual and performing arts, among many others. 

Highlight: They offer many non-credit and life skills classes that serve the community

15

Kapiolani Community College

Kapiolani located in picturesque Honolulu, Hawaii. Their programming is designed to support students to transfer to four-year degree programs. Kapiolani Community College not only do they have a large array of traditional programs, but students also have many flexible online learning and program options. Their list of credit granting programs is very long; it includes disciplines such as: accounting, adult residential care home operator to nurse aids, biotechnology, marketing, medical assessing, natural sciences STEM, respiratory care technician, and new media arts. They also have a variety of non-credit options. Such classes are open to everyone who has a minimum of a high school diploma. In addition, they offer a myriad of apprenticeship programs including health apprenticeship programs. Kapiolani is committed to serving the elders in their community and as a result, has opened the Kupuna Education Center to support an initiative for long-term care and aging seniors. 

Highlight: Their workforce development programming supports entrance into a variety of professions upon program completion. 

16

Saddleback College

Saddleback College has been offering classes in South Orange County since 1968. They have over 500,000 alumni that can attest to their quality education. Saddleback College is situated in Mission Viejo, California on a picturesque campus. Their list of academic majors is extensive in reach, making it one of the best community colleges in the country. Their learning pathways include: applied and advanced technologies, health and wellness, science, engineering, and premed, social science and education, literature and languages, art, design, and entertainment, and business and economics. They have what is called a transfer center that is dedicated to support students with transfer options. They offer such resources as academic counseling and support services to make it easy for students to meet their academic goals. There are a number of virtual workshops facilitated through the comprehensive transfer center. They pride themselves on their active student life opportunities.

Highlight: They have an active student life with over 50 clubs and organizations

17

Casper College

Casper College was established in 1945 and was the first community college in the state of Wyoming. Their campus is made up of 28 buildings, nestled among trees, and situated on 200 acres of land. There are many terraces surrounding the modern buildings. They consider it to have a big city feel without the hassle. They have close to 5,000 students enrolled each year. One of the things that make Casper one of the best community colleges is the fact that they offer intimate class sizes. Their student to faculty ratio is 13:1. On campus you will find 86 full-time faculty members with doctorates or master’s degrees. They offer a significant amount of financial aid, promoting education as an accessible concept. In fact, last year they gave $8.7 million in financial aid. Another perk is the plethora of university partnerships that they have, which includes 11 four-year degree offering institutions of higher learning. 

Highlight: They offer on-campus housing and dining options

18

Cerritos College

Cerritos College was established in 1955 and has since been known as one of the best community colleges in Los Angeles county. Their campus is situated on 135 acres of land in a city called Norwalk. The campus is truly a convenient options for students living in North Orange County and Southeastern Los Angeles County. They pride themselves on affordability and the fact that students can attend for just $46 per credit. Fifty five percent of the student body are first generation college students. They also have a 92 percent enrollment rate through honors scholars programming. They go out of their way to put students first by offering a variety of support services including for veteran students, career services, counseling opportunities, tutoring, student health, and a myriad of student life offerings. They have many notable faculty members who have won a considerable amount of awards. 

Highlight: On average 22,000 students attend annually

19

Ohlone College

Ohlone College is on the list of best community colleges for a number of reasons. Located in Fremont, California, Ohlone has two additional campuses in Newark and Online. At all of their campuses put together, they serve nearly 27,000 students per year. Their offerings include 189 associate’s degrees and certificate programs, as well as 27 degrees expressly for transfer, 67 certificates of accomplishment, as well as 15 non-credit certificates of completion. They have a wide list of non-credit courses for students who want to gain new knowledge for personal enrichment or career support. Not only is the campus action-packed with student support services and resources, but they also have a variety of offerings on their eCampus for virtual students. This includes tutoring opportunities along with tech support services. Their online course offers are extensive with opportunities for flexible asynchronous learning. 

Highlight: They offer 189 associate’s degree programs

20

North Dakota State College of Science

North Dakota State College of Science was established in 1903, making it the second oldest public two-year college in the country. They have campuses in Wahpeton, Fargo, as well as a comprehensive online campus. In the fall of 2020 they enrolled 2,829 students. Their academic programming includes 33 associate’s degree offerings, 12 certificates, 8 diploma programs, and in total 84 career pathways. Close to half of the students that attend the Wahpeton campus live in student housing. The vision of NDSCS is to enrich the lives of students by offering technologically advanced learning tools. They have a program guarantee that ensures students will gain the necessary tools and skills to successfully achieve employment, akin to students who have graduated from a technical or vocational school. The academics are organized in occupational clusters including: agriculture, food, and natural resources, education and training, health science, hospitality and tourism, information technology, among others. 

Highlight: They offer 84 career pathway programs

21

Montgomery College

Montgomery College is a comprehensive public community college located in Montgomery County, Maryland. They have three different campuses including Germantown, Takoma park/ silver spring, and Rockville. In addition, they have multiple community engagement centers, multiple training centers, and extensive online learning opportunities. Their extensive academic divisions include: business, science technology, engineering and math, education and social sciences, humanities, arts, and communications, applied technologies, health sciences, general studies, academic enrichment, and community enrichment. Their associate’s degree offerings are expansive as well as certificate programs and multiple professional licensure programs. They have a long history of success when it comes to supporting students to transfer to four-year institutions of higher learning. They are known for honoring diversity and offering an environment that celebrates difference. Intimate class sizes are important to their mission. They have a 17:1 student to faculty ratio. They have many financial aid offerings and are known for supporting students with extensive scholarship opportunities. 

Highlight: 140 program offerings

22

CUNY Queensborough Community College

CUNY Queensborough Community College is situated in Bayside, Queens, New York. They are 62 years old, established in 1959. Their mission is based on supporting their students to transfer four year academic endeavors and have the tools to access the workforce. They have close to 15,500 students at any given time with over 900 instructional faculty members. Their 37 acres campus is on the former site of the Oakland Country Club Golf Course. They have ten major buildings including the Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archives and the Queensborough Performing Arts Center. They have such a large list of programs of study within the divisions of: business academy, health related sciences academy, liberal arts academy, STEM academy, VAPA academy, and the Queensborough academies. They offer students significant financial aid opportunities, making academic success more accessible. In addition, they pride themselves on student support services including extensive counseling resources. 

Highlight: Home to the Communique Campus Newspaper

23

Kaua’i Community College

The Kaua’i Community College is located on the beautiful island of Kaua’i, Hawaii. They are one of 10 unique campuses at the University of Hawai’i. They have 34 unique degree programs as well as a wealth of certificate offerings. All of these programs are in service to career preparation and academic advancement. They also have a significant amount of offerings that relate to lifelong learning and business as delivered through their office of continuing education. Students can also choose to take advanced courses that ultimately lead to bachelor’s and graduate degrees through their university center. They are fully accredited by the accrediting commission for community and junior colleges. Their mission includes offering affordable quality education with access to financial aid. There are options to take classes that are delivered in a flexible format that can be started at any point. Flexible courses can be completed in a three-month timeframe. 

Highlight: multiple career education pathways 

24

Aims Community College

Aims Community College has four campuses, the main one being in Greely, Colorado. The main campus is situated on 185 acres of land and has been there for more than 50 years.  The other campuses are located in Fort Lupton, Loveland, and Widsor. Every year they have 4,000 evening, daytime, and weekend classes. Their goals are twofold: offering students a direct pathway to transfer to a myriad of 4-year colleges and universities and also offering students easy access to career opportunities directly upon graduation. They enroll around 9,200 students per year. Student life is a big part of the Aims Community College campus environment. Their list of student groups and organizations is extensive. They also have extensive financial aid offerings, making the pursuit of educational access. In addition, there are many student service offerings including extensive counseling services, a center for diversity and inclusion, and complex advising. 

Highlight: Over 200 degree and certificate programs

25

Northwestern Connecticut Community College

Northwestern Connecticut Community College is committed to fostering an inclusive learning environment that is supportive of students’ goals to transfer to four-year academic programs or progress into the workforce upon graduation. Their campus is located in Winstead, Connecticut. This is the second smallest of the twelve colleges that make up the Connecticut Community College System. They have close to 1,600 full-time and part-time students, all of which are commuters. They have no dormitories on campus. This public community college was established in 1965 as a space-grant school. A fun fact is that the school was founded by residents of Winstead, Connecticut, including the brother of Ralph Nadar, Shafeek Nadar. Some of their unique offerings include a veterinary technology program that is the only of its kind in the state and a program that trains people to interpret for the deaf studies program. 

Highlight: Home to a Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society Chapter

26

Minnesota State Community and Technical College

The Minnesota State Community and Technical College have multiple campuses including Detroit Lakes, Fergus Falls, Moorehead, Wadena, as well as an online campus. They have a myriad of associate’s degree and certificate program offerings including the following fields of study: accounting programs, accounting transfer pathway, administrative support, advanced HVAC, American Sign Language, architectural drafting and design, art transfer pathway, liberal arts, and sciences transfer pathway, among many others. As you can see many programs are in service to a seamless transfer into partner four-year institutions of higher learning among others as well as career-related programs that make it easy to matriculate into the workforce. Over 50 percent of the students who graduate from Minnesota State Community and Technical College transfer to four-year colleges and universities upon completion. In addition, they have a lot of student life activities including sports teams and many clubs and student led organizations. 

Highlight: Committed to Affirmative Action

27

Howard Community College

Celebrating 50 years since they opened their doors to students in 1970 Howard Community College is a proud part of the 16  community colleges in Maryland. They primarily serve the Howard County citizens. Last year combining credit and non-credit students over 25,000 students were served. Their mission is short and to the point; provide pathways to success. Only 50 mins away from the nation’s capital, students will be in the position to be a part of a thriving political community. Not only that, Maryland has some of the best colleges in the country. For students interested in obtaining a transfer degree they couldn’t choose a better place than this best community college. Not only do they have a myriad of career pathway programs and transfer programs in service to matriculating into four-year degree schools, they also have many opportunities for personal enrichment classes. 

Highlight: Invests about $337.8 million annually into the local community

28

Alexandria Technical & Community College

Alexandria Technical & Community College is a public two-year college that is dedicated to serving academic excellence, located in Alexandria Minnesota. This best community college offers certificates, associate’s degrees, diploma, and workforce development training. They are fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The workforce development and continuing education division of the college offers courses training, farm business management, truck driver school, and more. They also have relationships with the organizations that aid them in structuring their education, so as to make sure students are learning up-to-date industry knowledge. Their IT department is also a huge asset to students because not only do they fix equipment they lease laptops for students to use throughout the semester. Alexandria Technical & Community college has requested to receive funding as part of the Minnesota State System if this request is granted it will provide a subtail funding source for the college. 

Highlight: Student Service IT department Laptop Lease

29

Mt San Antonio College

Mt San Antonio College prides themselves on being an affordable option as opposed to a traditional four-year university. This is one of the best community colleges in Walnut California, they support their students to achieve success and save money on tuition. They have over 250 degrees and certificate programs. One of the most popular choices for students enrolled at Mt San Antonio College is business. They also have 25 different student support programs, such as career advising, daycare, writing center, language learning center, and more. Then if that isn’t enough there are more than 50 student clubs and athletic programs for students to participate in. It is important to mention, especially in the current times, that they also have online programs available for those that want more flexibility in their schedule. Because their mission is to support and empower students to achieve the educational goals they have an open enrollment process with an acceptance rate of 100%. Students will receive help with financial aid planning as well. 

Highlight: One of the largest Community Colleges in California

30

Asnuntuck Community College

Asnuntuck Community College is a drink of freshwater, or Asnuntuck, which means freshwater. Its mission is to provide affordable accessible educational resources while maintaining a nurturing environment for students, freshwater. With 19 associate degree programs and 23 college certificate programs students can choose a pathway that interests them. With over 125 full-time faculty members there will be a lot of support, by way of academic advising, mental health counseling, and free child care. The realities of the average person’s life are often too time consuming to consider going back to school yet with free daycare resources like the one offered is a game changer for women and men with children. Their student resources are diverse and integral to the overall campus experience. Some of their popular programs are machine and metalworking, liberal arts and humanities, and welding engineering, technician. 

Highlight: Free Childcare

31

Santa Rosa Junior College

Santa Rosa Junior College is a public two-year college in Santa Rosa California. They offer associates degrees in programs like Emergency medical technician, police and criminal science, and social science research methods just to name a few. They also facilitate workforce development training for local businesses. Community colleges have long ago since recognized the benefits of partnering to train future workforce employees from within the industry. They also offer senior learning programs and adult basic education classes for individuals that want to improve on a position they already have. Some will attend classes to get certificates to qualify for a promotion. They even offer as many as seven online programs. Distance learning is a convenient resource for students who can’t travel to campus to attend classes. During the pandemic to support students they may not have had the equipment to continue learning online, Santa rosa offered students laptops and internet hot spots. This shows immense dedication to providing for their students. 

Highlight: Laptop and Hot Spot Loans

32

Laramie County Community College

At Laramie County Community College you get the sense that something is happening. It feels like a movement is happening and everyone is pumped to be apart of it. This is one of the best community colleges in Cheyenne Wyoming, their 271 acres main campus is continuously growing. They have 22 buildings and facilities on campus and newly updated facilities, and state-of-the-art smart classrooms. They consist of three residence halls, a high-tech health science center, a state-of-the-art science complex, and fully equipped computer labs, and a lot more. They are completely accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Since they opened their doors in 1968 they haven’t seemed to slow down. They offer community youth programs, curate cultural events, life enrichment programming, and more. Although their most aggressive program is the Complete College Wyoming program. Their goal is to build awareness of the value of college completion. 

Highlight: Complete College Wyoming

33

Pierce College-Puyallup

Pierce College-Puyallup has a history that spans more than 50 years of wins. They were recent named top 5 community colleges by the Aspen Institute. Located in Puyallup Washington they serve a community dedicated to enriching their economy and environment through education. Pierce College utilizes a process called Career Pathways, which is the process in which individuals with an academic advisor map out their career goals. Now the outstanding bit about this process is it can be useful even if you do not know what field of study you want to pursue. The career pathway process helps students set up and plan for themselves while they are in school. It also helps narrow down their choices, between transfer degrees, certificates, online learning, continuing education, or workforce and technical career training. Whichever you decide you can add it to your plan. This process also includes a team of staff members ready to support you every step of the way. 

Highlight: Career Pathways and Mapping out an Educational Plan

34

San Diego Miramar College

Located in San Diego California, San Diego Miramar College has a rich history of providing for their communities’ educational needs. They offer over 166 programs, they serve over 9,000 students each year. They offer programs in accountancy, aviation, nursing, administration of justice, or public safety, and several others. There are adult learning instruction, career development, and technical training programs. They have also partnered with several high schools in the community to offer their dual credit program in which students will be able to take college credits while still in high school. As a way to support students through the at time very stressful adjustment of becoming a full-time college student, they offer mental health counseling to all San Diego Miramar students. A huge asset to the community is the 38-arce multi-purpose sports complex on campus. The Miramar College Physical Education programs and Athletics teams serve 500,000 customers annually. 

Highlight: Miramar College Physical Education programs and Athletics teams

35

Central Wyoming College

If you are ready to make a commitment to higher education, choosing Central Wyoming College is a great first step. They serve communities in the Fremont, Hot Springs, and Teton counties of Wyoming. For those interested in their program offerings but don’t live in the area they have several online programs, that student can complete 100% online. The main campus is located in Riverton Wyoming, they understand a huge part of being successful in college is accountability. Their staff cares about the students, whether they are transfer students obtaining an associate’s before moving on to a four-year college, or a certificate student seeking immediate employment after completion. They also provide professional development courses, and basic adult education, and career readiness training. They stand as a cultural hub for the community providing enriching cultural elements, live performances, art exhibits, as well as being the home place to the state’s only public broadcasting station. 

Highlight: Home of Wyoming Public Broadcasting Station

36

Golden West College

Join the surf city community, at Golden West College located in the coastal community of Huntington Beach California. Gold west is an open admission institution, applicants may only need to be 18 years of age or have a high school diploma or the equivalent. Their goal is simple: their door is open to whoever wants to be there. They offer transfer degrees to four-year institutions, technical workforce training continuing education, and certificates in career training. They offer programs like anthropology, automotive technology, nursing, mathematics, and so much more. Student resources include the STEM center, writing and reading center, tutoring center, and much more. They have a thriving campus and several student-run clubs and organizations. One aspect is that they are using all of their resources to invest back into the student Golden West College’s Academic Success Center provides tools for an on-campus and online students to benefit from during their educational experience. 

Highlight: Free tutoring offered at the Academic Success Center

37

SOWELA Technical Community College

Known as one of the largest and most progressive public two-year community colleges in Louisiana. SOWELA Technical Community College is the best community college offering comprehensive associate degrees and transfer programs. They operate from three campuses total with Lake Charles as the main campus. They are fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. They model excellence in all things, providing educational resources for their community members means making sure what they are offering is the best. The SOWELA transfer academy for high school students opens the door to high school seniors that want to get a head start on college before they graduate high school. They have to attend a four or two-year college after they graduate and can expect to earn 24-30 college credits. This program saves students thousands of dollars on general education courses before they attend college.

Highlight: SOWELA Transfer Academy Increasing Readiness for Seniors (STAIRS)

38

Southwest Wisconsin Technical College

Located in Fennimore Wisconsin Southwest Wisconsin Technical College is a two-year public open enrollment community college. Sporting a 100% acceptance rate this is the best community college for those interested in being a part of the preferred provider for education in the region. They have several apprenticeships in construction, industrial electrician, mechatronics technician, and several other programs that provide students with on-the-job training while they earn their academic credentials. While they prepare to resume in-person classes beginning this fall that have learned a lot about their institution during the pandemic. Online classes have become an institutional lifeline. They currently offer 100% online certificates and associates in 8 and 16-week formats. When it was necessary to stay at home learning online became a way for thousands of students to continue their education. They also offer a gambit of online student services, like online counseling, financial aid, and tutoring and advising along with technical support. 

Highlight: Five unique apprenticeships

39

St. Cloud Technical and Community College

St. Cloud Technical and Community College is one of the best community colleges in Minnesota. They have made it their mission to provide affordable education to the community. This two-year public institution is crafting personalized educational pathways for thousands of students each year. They offer transfer programs, which save families in the community thousands of dollars in tuition each year. Their career and workforce training is encouraging business and individual course interests. They offer several courses online that makeup 9 distinct online programs. Students are changing their lives after graduation with 92% of graduates employed within two years of course completion. The top major at the school is liberal arts and humanities, incensed practical nurse training, and business. They also provide over 80% of their students with financial aid and tuition support. Spotlight programs are programs in which st Cloud has partnered with local companies to ensure proper training and real on-the-job training experience for students. 

Highlight: Computer-Aided- Design Manufacturing 

40

Frederick Community College

Frederick Community College embodies the tenants of integrity, innovation, diversity, excellence in education. Since 1957 they have served over 200,00 students in obtaining an associate’s degree. This two-year public college is considered one of the best community colleges in the Middle states. It is fully accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, they are the affordable option in the area, saving thousands of dollars per year in the first two years of college for hundreds of families. The top 5 areas of study are general studies, healthcare, business administration, STEM, and cybersecurity. They offer comprehensive advising to collaborate with students to achieve their educational goals. Adult multicultural and career services are true assets to the impact of their communities. Online learning has become the lifeline for students and the college during pandemic times, which they plan to continue to expand on their online program offerings. 

Highlight: Expanded the STEM Laboratories and classrooms

41

Pasadena City College

Since 1924 Pasadena City College has represented educational excellence and diversity. Offering academic programs to more than 29,000 students seeking degrees, transfer programs, and certificates. Their commitment to diversity has created an expansive campus, providing courses through the evening, online, international, and local environments. They have been named the top ten best community colleges by the Aspen Institute for the third time. They have over 105 areas of study, such as science and math, liberal arts, music and art, athletics, nursing, and vocational arts. They are winning with numbers as they are impressing everyone with over $1million in scholarships award last year and over 7,000 associates degrees awarded. They have 99 certificate programs and 43 non-credit programs. They have also garnered attention as the top transfer school, as their graduates are transferring to local universities and four-year colleges. They also offer comprehensive veteran services to individuals that have served in the armed forces. 

Highlight: California’s Top School for transfers to local Colleges

42

New Mexico Junior College

New Mexico Junior College has an energetic video for those excited about learning and the community. Deeply rooted in the heritage of New Mexico, their campus boosts the Western Heritage Museum. Financial support is an important issue for this best community college. They have founded two foundations dedicated to fundraising for scholarships to award to enrolled students. Their mission to promote success through learning has fueled their passion for supporting students through workforce development training dual credit opportunities for high school students. They award 71% of enrolled students financial aid. Their most popular programs are liberal art and humanities, police and criminal science, and nursing. While the on-campus experience is exceptional they also offer distance and online learning to students that need a flexible learning format. They offer 9 fully online programs and hundreds of online courses including continuing education online seminars and adult basic education instruction. 

Highlight: New Mexico Junior College Foundation 

43

Nassau Community College

If you are looking to study in a fast-paced environment full of diversity, educational excellence, and more student resources than you can count then Nassau Community College should be your first choice. They serve over 30,000 students annually, so if student engagement is an important part of your college experience you will find a thriving campus environment. Their 225-acre campus in the heart of Long Island boasts more than 70 different areas of study for students to choose from. Their facilities are full of innovative technology and learning incentives. They provide themselves with small classroom sizes that will guarantee a personalized educational experience between the professor and students. A highlight of this institution is the 1000 plus study abroad program available to students. What an advantage for students young and old to be able to have access to an opportunity to learn in a different country. 

Highlight: 1000+ study Abroad Options

44

Hillsborough Community College

Make a smart investment in your future, by choosing Hillsborough Community College You are choosing an institution dedicated to high-quality academic success. They serve a minimum of 47,00 students and are one of the largest transfer institutions to the University of South Florida. With more than 190 programs to offer students, they also provide multiple delivery options, day-time, evening, hybrid and online courses create accessibility to the community members it serves especially during pandemic times. This best community college is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Some other student resources include the dual credit program for high school students, the corporate and continuing education training empowering businesses and individuals. The clinical research associate degree is a spotlight program, some other program offerings are liberal arts and humanities, emergency medical technician, and nursing. They also offer a range of programs that are 100% entirely online. 

Highlight: Average Wage of Associate degree holder $62k

45

Fox Valley Technical College

Joining one of the most innovative two-year institutions will be the best first step in your education. Fox Valley Technical College is transforming education with technology. They stand out on every level with advancements in every program from agriculture, healthcare, aviation, and robotics. They provide high-tech occupational training, they have over 200 programs and training in some of the most in-demand professions today. They have been doing this for over 100 so they are a trusted entity in the community. Continuing education courses are offered as an initiative to affordable and accessible education for individuals from all walks of life. This best community college recently announced they acquired a Redbird flight simulator for their Aeronautics pilot training program, students will benefit immensely from this simulator. They also offer evening and online classes for students that need a more flexible learning experience. 

Highlight: Aeronautics Pilot Training Program

46

Western Technical College

Western Technical College is figuring out how to provide essential workforce training during a pandemic. They offer associates degrees, certificates, diplomas, and career training. They offer a comprehensive educational plan for all of their students through personalized advising, and students will collaborate with staff members to create an educational pathway to success they can be proud of. The on-campus Horticulture Education Center is a huge asset to the community; it consists of classrooms and two greenhouses. They have partnered with the eastern, Mayo Clinic Health System-Franciscan Healthcare, and Hillview Urban Agriculture Center this partnership is called Get Growing. The open process enrollment process ensures accessibility to all of the school resources, they provide students with assistance receiving financial aid, 81% of students are awarded funds to pay for college. This is one of the best community colleges in the area. 

Highlight: Horticulture Education Center

47

Lake Area Technical Institute

Lake Area Technical Institute is the first technical school in South Dakota, and it is continuing to provide education services to students interested in technical and in-demand programs. They recently renovated and added onto the Prairie Lakes Healthcare Center of learning. Their students will get the opportunity to work and learn in a facility modeled after medical centers. Fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, and other organizations according to the subject area. They promise students technical excellence and a small interactive classroom environment. They have many career and technical development programs such as aviation maintenance technology, diesel technology, robotics, medical assisting, practical nursing, law enforcement, and several other programs. They maintain articulation agreement with several South Dakota public and private universities, so students earning an associate’s can transfer seamlessly to institutions with an articulation agreement with Lake Area Technical Institute. This best community college is a two-year institution dedicated to excellence. 

Highlight: New Prairie Lakes Healthcare Center of Learning

48

Diablo Valley College

Welcome to the melting pot, Diablo Valley College celebrates and welcomes an inclusive and diverse college environment. They have two campuses and serve over 28,000 students between the two campuses. They have a passion for sustainability dedicating a substantial amount of resources to create a sustainable campus environment. Getting started can be tough because students don’t know their educational standing, assessment is the first step to becoming a lifelong learner. They utilize CANVAS a learning management system that connects students to all of the campus resources in one location. Tutoring services, bookstores, counseling centers, financial aid services, and so much more. They have several program offerings including, transfer associate degrees, certificates, and career education courses. The student resources are endless, from outreach to student welfare support, study abroad programs, and online learning. This best community college is a true asset to its community. 

Highlight: Ranked #1 for Transfers to UC Berkeley

49

Raritan Valley Community College

Raritan Valley Community College has a little bit of everything making them a hub in Branchburg, New Jersey. Students interested in transferring to a four-year college or earning dual credit while in high school Raritan has a place for you. This best community college also provides adult basic education, workforce, and career development training. They are affordable and accessible and they have open process enrollment, which simply means if you apply you will get in. They offer evening and online courses, with a small intimate classroom size, of 19:1 student-teacher ratio. Some of their most popular degrees are liberal arts and humanities, business and nursing, they also offer comprehensive student advising. All students will discuss their academic pathway with a trained advisor to plan out their educational goals from beginning to end. It’s ok if you don’t know what you want to do yet, they have a pathway for students still discovering their passion. 

Highlight: Raritan Valley Community College Planetarium and Observatory

50

Northland Community and Technical College

Start the educational journey off right with Northland Community and Technical College, they value excellence in education and innovation in teaching. They meet students where they are at, they purpose to serve the community they represent. This two-year institution has over 80 plus program options, in subject areas like aerospace, agriculture, automotive, and transportation, building trades, and marketing. But the most eye-drawing fact about this school is their new unmanned aerial systems maintenance training program, they are the first to offer it. They have 171 full-time faculty dedicated to providing comprehensive educational services for over 4,500 students. They also offer workforce and career development training for those that want to journey the workforce sooner than later. Their programs are fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, other programs are also accredited accounting to their separate fields of study. They have three campuses try each one out with their virtual campus tour. 

Highlight: Northland has the first Unmanned Aerial Systems Maintenance Training

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.

Related: 

Top 25 Scholarships for Community College Students

50 Most Affordable Technical and Trade Schools in the US

50 Best Online Community Colleges