College Rankings & Accreditation

Are you attending one of the best community colleges? Do rankings matter? From the best schools in the US to those losing accreditation, we’ll provide you with the latest resources on community college rankings.
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Ten community colleges are enjoying the distinction as one of the finalists for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. The schools featured on this elite list have all shown tremendous strides in important aspects of the college experience, such as student retention, employability after college and academic success while in school. Presidents from the schools on the list were also invited to join President Obama in a roundtable discussion regarding innovations at community colleges and how those ideas can be implemented on other campuses as well. The Aspen Prize has helped to elevate high-achieving community colleges to a visible level where other schools can capitalize on the success and innovation of the finalists to bring their own schools up to par.

What is the Aspen Prize?
 
The Aspen Prize was announced at last year’s community college summit at the White House. The purpose of the prize is to spotlight colleges that have dramatically increased student outcomes, according to a report at the Community College Times. When the ideas and methodology of these outstanding schools are showcased, other schools across the country can implement innovative techniques to improve outcomes on their campuses as well. The 10 finalists were selected from a short list of 120 schools. The winner of the Aspen Prize, as well as three runner-up schools, will be announced in December of this year, when they will all share a portion of the $1 million prize.
 
“The finalists impressed us with their efforts to help . . . read more

Community colleges have come to the forefront of higher education in recent years, since President Obama has made them one of the priorities for his administration. To help the process along, the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program recently published a list of what it calls the nation's 120 best community colleges – which is the top 10 percent of all community colleges in the country. This list comes after extensive data collecting and analysis that attempted to accommodate the broad variations within community colleges while adhering to a general standardization that accurately compares schools.

The Contest for Top Spot
 
Now that the top 10% college list has been completed, the Aspen Institute hopes to continue the process by choosing 10 colleges out of the original 120. From the list of 10, the organization will select a single, top-performing school to award a $1 million  for excellence in school performance. According to the Aspen Institute's website, the purpose of the contest is to raise awareness of the value of community colleges, as well as reward those institutions that are committed to maintaining the highest standards of excellence in their educational pursuits.
 
To help them achieve this goal, the Aspen Institute recently appointed a high-profile jury to select the 10 finalists for the prize. The co-chairs of the jury are former Michigan Governor John Engler and former Secretary of Education Richard Riley. Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan attended the announcement event. The Aspen prize had . . . read more

Community colleges are available in nearly every city across the United States, helping high school graduates and professional adults alike get the training and education they need to succeed in their chosen careers. A key component in a quality education from a community college is the school's accreditation that ensures the degree and education received will be recognized by other schools and professional industries. However, not all community colleges successfully keep their accreditation status intact, leaving students and faculty scrambling to legitimize the education process without this important stamp of approval.

What is Accreditation?
 
According to the Maryland Higher Education Commission, accreditation is "a voluntary process of self-regulation and peer review adopted by the educational community." This means that educational institutions have agreed to evaluate one another to determine whether each has successfully achieved its stated educational goals.

When a school is accredited, it has been proven to provide a quality of education recognized by the educational community at large. Accredited schools are better recognized for their coursework and credits earned, and students who attend these institutions are more likely to be able to receive financial aid or transfer credits to another college or university.
 
It is important to note that while there are a number of different types of accreditation available to colleges today, the only legitimate accreditation organizations are recognized by the United States Department of Education. Not all colleges that are approved by their states are accredited as well. Prospective students should always ask whether . . . read more

Finding a community college can be a challenging prospect today, with many states boasting a large number of colleges that all promise the best training for today's workforce. Students may be hard-pressed to find reliable information about the various colleges in their areas, with little concrete information provided outside of the institutions themselves.  While Community College Review's goal is to provide students with concrete, valuable information on individual community colleges, a recent ranking of community colleges is stirring both appreciation and controversy. 

One publication, Washington Monthly, has created a simple ranking system of the top community colleges in the country.  Which community colleges are at the top of the list – and do the Washington Monthly’s rankings truly matter? 
 
The Rankings and the Controversy
 
Washington Monthly recently released its most recent rankings on community colleges across the country to the delight of many prospective students – and the chagrin of many educators who know better than to heed rankings alone when choosing a college. The publication offers a listing of the top 50 community colleges in the nation, based on a wide range of criteria and information taken from the Community College Survey of Student Engagement.
 
Interestingly, CCSSE is one of the most vocal opponents to Washington Monthly's rankings. In a press release issued shortly after the publication of the rankings, CCSSE director Kay McClenney states, “We commend the Washington Monthly for recognizing the importance of community colleges to America’s future, and we have long sought to prompt a redefinition . . . read more

In the decision of choosing which college is right for you, the options abound. Many students find themselves choosing between community college, a technical college, or a four-year institution. Although all these institutions can provide a solid education, be aware that not all colleges are created equal. In fact, accreditation is one of the main elements that differentiate between colleges’ level of scholarly quality. 
 
What is accreditation?

Accreditation is an important distinction in the realm of colleges and universities. According to the US Department of Education, the purpose of accreditation is to certify that the education given by institutions meet national standards of quality. Therefore, if a college you are considering has national accreditation, then this demonstrates that the institution has met the standards of quality set forth by the US Department of Education. 

Fundamentally, accreditation ensures that you are obtaining a quality education – and for your future employers and graduate programs to recognize your education. If the college does not have accreditation, you may want to think twice about enrolling. 
 
Why accreditation is important
 
When you are choosing a college, accreditation is important for many factors – including the financial aid you can obtain and even the job you will get upon graduating. Subsequently, accreditation is an element of your college decision that cannot be taken lightly. If the institution you attend is not accredited, then you are subject to several disadvantages:   
  •       Lack of government financial aid: Contingent upon schools participating in federal Title IV or state financial aid funding is their accreditation. If the institution does not receive accreditation . . . read more
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COLLEGE RANKINGS & ACCREDITATION