The Best Community Colleges in the U.S.

While much attention is paid to the Forbes and U.S. News college rankings each year, the schools represented by these lists are predominately expensive, private institutions that only serve the most elite students, and in many cases, the most wealthy. Such rankings can do little to help the majority of Americans, who are no less deserving of an excellent higher education.
Washington Monthly undertakes a different kind of college ranking: community colleges. Nearly half of all American students begin their path to higher education at two-year institutions. The magazine argues that expense and selectivity are not the most important factors in providing a meaningful college education.
The rankings are based on data from the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) and graduation rates published by the U.S. Department of Education. Data from the CCSSE counted for about 85 percent of a college’s ranking, and is broken down as follows (the percents do not sum to 85 due to rounding):

  • Active and Collaborative Learning: 29%
  • Student Effort: 12%
  • Academic Challenge: 19%
  • Student-Faculty Interaction: 14%
  • Support for Learners: 12%

The remaining 15 percent is based on graduation rate. The U.S. Department of Education only counts students who graduate in four years or less, nor does it include students who are enrolled part-time.
1. Saint Paul College, MN
2. Hesston College, KS
3. Carolinas College of Health Sciences, NC
4. Mayland Community College, NC
5. Itasca Community College, MN
6. Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, WI
7. Leech Lake Tribal College, MN
8. Alexandria Technical College, MN
9. Southwestern Community College, NC
10. Chippewa Valley Technical College, WI
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