Four Community Colleges, Current 12-College CT System, Among Best in Nation

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It is what some may describe as a strong finish.

In their final year as individual institutions, four of Connecticut’s 12 community colleges have been named among the 20 Top Community Colleges in the nation. 

To determine where students can receive the best education at the lowest rates, the financial services website WalletHub compared more than 650 community colleges across 19 key indicators of cost and quality nationwide. The data set ranges from the cost of in-state tuition and fees to student-faculty ratio to graduation rate.

Naugatuck Valley Community College was ranked #10 in the nation, followed by Northwestern Connecticut Community College at #11, Manchester Community College at #12, and Capital Community College at #15.

And there was more good news for the current system of 12 community colleges in Connecticut – they were collectively ranked as the nation’s Best Community-College System.  That system will cease-to-be a year from now, as the 12 institutions will merge into one institution – to be called CT State Community College – with 12 campuses. According to the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) website, consolidating Connecticut's 12 community colleges into one singly accredited institution is designed to sustain and enhance education quality, affordability, and accessibility.

The new statewide college, years in the making and formed despite considerable opposition led by faculty, has already begun building an infrastructure of personnel and earlier this month began an advertising campaign in print and broadcast media of Connecticut’s tuition-free community college program, CT Pact.

Back in March, the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) accepted the Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education substantive change proposal, giving the green light to proceed with plans to merge the 12 community colleges into a newly formed Connecticut State Community College (CT State).

Earlier this year, in an open letter to the community college community, CSCU President Terrence Cheng explained that the merger, initiated prior to his appointment at CSCU, “is responsive to the harsh realities that community colleges face – a steady enrollment decline, lagging student success metrics, and an unsustainable financial trajectory. The plan takes material steps to address those core challenges, while maintaining the uniqueness of each of our current campuses and ensuring we have the resources to continue operations with sustainability and quality. CT State also includes specific efforts to increase student retention and ultimately bolster completion rates, particularly for first-generation students and those from traditionally underserved backgrounds.”

The states with the best community college systems, after Connecticut, include Maryland, New Mexico, Washington, Hawaii, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Wyoming, North Dakota and Oregon.

Among the leading community colleges, Asnuntuck Community College was ranked #31, Gateway Community College was ranked #54, Housatonic Community College was ranked #112, Norwalk Community College placed at #139 and Quinebaug Valley Community College was at #144; as 9 of the current 12 community colleges in Connecticut reached the top 150 among the more than 600 institutions included in the rankings.

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