Community colleges’ ease of access, relatively low cost and opportunities for under-resourced students, coupled with their high dropout rates and spotty record of upward transfers, have given higher education’s underdog a mercurial reputation.
However, with a quarter of Gen Z students between 14 and 18 considering community college, and less than half believing they need four years of postsecondary education to be successful, its potential for higher demand is probable. Similarly, community colleges experienced a whopping 12.4% increase in first-year student enrollment this past Spring semester.
With the probability of future higher demand in community colleges high, it’s essential to examine what community colleges around the nation are excelling at providing their students with the best financial bargain and performance outcomes.
WalletHub collected data from 668 member institutions in the American Association of Community Colleges, analyzing 19 different metrics that they divided into three categories: cost and financing, education outcomes and career outcomes. WalletHub gave all three metrics the same weight when creating its final score and ranking its sample of community colleges and subsequently ranking their state systems.
The top 25 community colleges in the nation
Of the 668 community colleges analyzed California featured the most community colleges in the top 25 with five. Connecticut followed with four. Missouri, Kansas, Oregon, Minnesota, Maryland and New Mexico all had two make the list.
The 10 best state systems
While California had the most community colleges present in WalletHub’s individual ranking, it didn’t even make the top 10 when it calculated the state system’s weighted averages and the number of students enrolled in each institution.
- New Mexico
- South Dakota