Community College Rankings: Do They Exist?

by Chad Agrawal

Community College Rankings: Do They Exist?You may be familiar with some of the best known college rankings systems, like the much-anticipated list released annually by U.S. News & World Report.

Such lists generally break up colleges and universities into categories (best law school, best fine arts school, overall highest rated schools, and so on).

And they have a laundry list of criteria that they consider when making their selections, such as:

  • Enrollment and graduation rates
  • Number of graduates receiving job offers
  • SAT scores of students gaining admission
  • Cost of tuition and housing
  • Education level of professors
  • And many other factors

In short, these sources for college rankings go to a lot of trouble to ensure that their readers have the opportunity to compare institutions of higher education and make an informed choice about the school that will suit them best. What you may notice, though, if you peruse such lists, is that they generally fail to include community colleges in their survey. So how can you get the 4-1-1 on community college rankings?

Does any such report exist?

As a matter of fact, there are several organizations that generate lists of rankings for students interested in community colleges. The main problem is that there are so many more community colleges than there are other types of institutions (state colleges, universities, and Ivy League schools, for example).

It is therefore a project of much greater scope to compare them all. And this is why there are so many different reports concerning community college rankings: most of them only cover a limited number of schools, often based on specific criteria or geographic region.

Where To Find Community College Rankings

Aspen Institute

The Aspen Institute has been releasing a list of the top 120 community colleges for the last couple of years, mainly based on rates of transfer and completion of associate's degrees, as well the number of minority and low-income students completing programs. Is this a valid basis for assessing the "best" community colleges? Maybe not, but many students would be interested to know which community colleges have the best transfer rates.

And thanks to the American Graduation Initiative enacted by the Obama Administration, many organizations have jumped on the bandwagon and started ranking community colleges.

These rankings seem to come from a couple of sectors, and students should be careful which they choose to pay attention to.

Right here on, we have published our own list of the Top 10 Best Community Colleges In The USA. Our list was contributed by a guest blogger who was looking for community colleges who put out "staggering results" such as students transferring from community college to Ivy League.

Washington Monthly

The Washington Monthly released a listing of the top 50 community colleges, but there was some controversy over the results, which were based only on public record information. Without enough criteria, detractors warned, the information could be extremely misleading.

College Measures

On the other hand, organizations like College Measures consider far more factors when creating rankings. In addition to obvious criteria like transfer rates, they also consider elements like:

  • Student progress
  • Support services for minority and low-income students
  • The ability of students to get jobs after attaining associate's degrees or certifications

It's not enough to base rankings on whether students will go on to receive a BA in English or an mba in health care. These ranking systems need to include just as much information as university rankings require if they truly want to serve their audience. So while students should definitely seek out community college rankings, they should take the findings with a grain of salt and consider both the sources and the criteria involved in creating the lists.

Community College Rankings Recommendation

When looking at community college rankings, try not to focus on one community college like Macomb Community College or Glendale Community College because they are large community colleges.

Focus on a community college that will give you the resources you need to succeed.

And most community colleges are going to give you that. So look at location, cost and attributes like honors programs and academics.

Regardless of what community college you decide on, if you have a step-by-step community college guide, you'll be on a track for success.

Once you get there, focus on how to become a top student at community college.

This post was written by Chad Agrawal

Chad Agrawal is the founder of CCTS, helping students transfer from community college to Ivy League, tier 1 or anywhere else by following this community college guide.

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