Penn State students inside the Student Union, called The Hub
August marks the start of back to school season for students nationwide, which, for some means kicking off a semester at their local community college.
Community college offers students the ability to obtain a two-year degree, frequently at a lower cost than a four-year college. At a time when student debt is soaring and the cost of tuition at some higher education institutions has tripled, for those who want to pursue a four-year degree, it’s often a financially responsible way to knock off general education courses or participate in a transfer program that enables a student to get their bachelor’s degree at a partner university for free.
However, not all community colleges, just as is the case with four-year schools, are the same. WalletHub, a personal finance website, analyzed more than 700 community colleges across 19 indicators to determine the best and worst community colleges.
At the very top of the list was the State Technical College of Missouri in Linn, Missouri. Attending as an in-state resident costs a student $175.25 per credit hour, so tuition costs are determined on the number of courses a student takes.
In second place was Arkansas State University-Mountain Home followed by Southern Arkansas University Tech and San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, California. Rounding out the top five best community colleges was Pierce College-Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Numbers six through ten were listed as:
- Minnesota State Community and Technical College, Fergus Falls, Minnesota
- Alexandria Technical & Community College, Alexandria, Minnesota
- Mitchell Technical Institute, Mitchell, South Dakota
- Northland Community and Technical College, East Grand Forks, Minnesota
- Columbia-Greene Community College, Hudson, New York
Minnesota had three colleges in the top 10 best community colleges and WalletHub also identified it as one of the top states for community college systems. In a separate analysis, Minnesota was ranked third for overall community college systems. Arkansas, which had two community colleges in the top ten, was fifth.
Much farther down the list, Sisseton Wahpeton College in Sisseton, South Dakota, took the 710th spot, making it the worst community college, according to WalletHub. The rest of the top 10 worst community colleges were identified as:
- Reading Area Community College, Reading, Pennsylvania
- Bladen Community College, Bladen County, North Carolina
- Heartland Community College, Normal, Illinois
- Coastal Bend College, Beeville, Texas
- Robeson Community College, Lumberton, North Carolina
- Nash Community College, Rocky Mount, North Carolina
- Roanoke-Chowan Community College, Hertford County, North Carolina
- Eastern Gateway Community College, Steubenville, Ohio
- Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College, Chief Lake, Wisconsin
In determining its rankings, WalletHub considered a variety of factors, broken down into three categories. Career Outcomes, Education Outcomes and Cost & Financing were each assigned 33.33 points with subcategories weighed between 3.33 points and 10 points.