Community colleges often provide more flexible schedules, keeping pace with the changing demographic of students who juggle family and career responsibilities alongside their educational goals.

Ranking the best community colleges

Individual community colleges vary in quality and affordability. To determine where students can receive the best education at the lowest price, WalletHub compared more than 700 community colleges across 19 key indicators of cost and quality.

The top five best community colleges are:
1. State Technical College of Missouri
2. Arkansas State University-Mountain Home
3. Southern Arkansas University Tech
4. San Joaquin Delta College (CA)
5. Pierce College-Puyallup (WA)

There are some steps policymakers can take to improve the quality of education and training at community colleges, along with the career prospects of graduates.

“State policy that works on alignment among educational sectors is critical for higher education attainment,” says Pamela L. Eddy, Ph.D., Professor, Higher Education, Chair, Educational Policy, Planning, & Leadership, CILD Faculty Fellow, William & Mary School of Education. “Making transitions seamless would keep more students on track–being academically prepared for college, taking college level courses in high school (either in middle college programs or in dual enrollment programs) can help; working on articulation agreements in the state so students do not lose credits when transferring to a four-year institution; providing bridge programming for students; and working with employers to identify workforce needs.”

Where can you find the best community colleges in the nation?

The best community colleges also are ranked in various categories including lowest cost of in-state tuition and fees, highest per-pupil spending, highest graduation rate, and lowest student-loan default rate.

Best and worst community college systems

To rank the best and worst community college systems in the U.S., WalletHub looked at 19 key metrics and calculated a weighted average of the scores earned by 710 community colleges, along with the number of students enrolled in each school.

The state with the highest average corresponds with a rank of No. 1, or the best community-college system. Data used to create this ranking were collected from the National Center for Education Statistics, CNBC, U.S. Department of Education, Council for Community & Economic Research and College Measures.

The top 10 best community college systems are Washington, South Dakota, Minnesota, Colorado, Arkansas, Maryland, New York, Wyoming, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

About the Author:

Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura

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