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100 best community colleges in America

Elizabeth Jackson on

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100 best community colleges in America

With college costs mounting and student debt remaining a hot topic of conversation, public opinion on four-year colleges has begun to shift, as people contemplate whether they are in fact the only — or best — option for all students. An estimated 8.7 million undergraduates enrolled in public, two-year colleges during the 2016–17 academic year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. A 2019 study from TD Ameritrade found 36% of Gen Z students considered attending a community college before a four-year college, while 21% considered attending a community college instead of a four-year college.

While there are many reasons to choose a community college over a traditional four-year program, one key factor is cost. Student Loan Hero reports that the average cost-per-credit for a two-year public school is $135, compared to $324.70 for a four-year public school. Cheaper classes may put slightly less pressure on students to settle and choose a career path immediately. Community colleges also allow for flexibility in ways traditional schools may not: Students who work full-time can attend school part-time. Whether it’s to save money or experiment with career choices, community colleges not only serve as an alternative but also a gateway to four-year universities.

The cost of a four-year college continues to dominate the national conversation, as the United States contemplates major domestic legislation in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Many progressives have endorsed plans that would make public colleges free in America. Others are more skeptical, proposing more modest, loan-forgiveness ideas. These changes would have substantial effects on the education sector.

Stacker looked at data from Niche's 2021 Best Community Colleges in America to compile this list of the top 100 community colleges nationwide. The data is based on rigorous analysis of academic, financial, and student life data from the U.S. Department of Education, along with reviews from students and alumni. The community college list includes public junior colleges, public technical schools, and all other public, two-year colleges.

Read on to see how community colleges across the nation stack up.

Visit thestacker.com for similar lists and stories.

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#100. Iowa Lakes Community College

- Location: Estherville, IA - Students: 845 - Students to faculty ratio: 14:1 - Graduation rate: 67% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $34,000 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 90%

Although Iowa Lakes Community College is in a rural area, it offers a wide range of opportunities for its students, including many typically found at four-year colleges. Students may live on campus, participate in sports including diving, sports shooting, and wrestling, and choose between career and technical programs or transfer majors in preparation for four-year colleges.

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#99. Ogeechee Technical College

- Location: Statesboro, GA - Students: 836 - Students to faculty ratio: 15:1 - Graduation rate: 58% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $26,000 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 82%

Ogeechee Technical College has deep roots in its community. The college was created by former state Sen. Joe Kennedy to give job training to people in rural Georgia and has been responsible for the adult literacy program in the region since 1989.

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#98. Minnesota West Community & Technical College

- Location: Granite Falls, MN - Students: 1,099 - Students to faculty ratio: 20:1 - Graduation rate: 54% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $34,700 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 93%

Students say that Minnesota West Community & Technical College has done an excellent job fostering a sense of community. The small student body has a faculty that has pivoted extremely well to online learning, numerous students have said.

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#97. Santa Rosa Junior College

- Location: Santa Rosa, CA - Students: 5,904 - Students to faculty ratio: 21:1 - Graduation rate: 40% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $35,700 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 79%

Santa Rosa Junior College is specifically meant to graduate students into one of the most prestigious universities in the nation. Many of the college’s students go on to enroll at the nearby University of California, Berkeley, one of the most academically rigorous schools in the country.

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#96. North Iowa Area Community College

- Location: Mason City, IA - Students: 1,389 - Students to faculty ratio: 22:1 - Graduation rate: 57% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $33,900 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 91%

Aspiring football players, in particular, may want to consider North Iowa Area Community College. One of the school’s alumnus is famed NFL offensive guard Marshal Yanda, whose path to professional football began at the school.

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#95. Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Dickson

- Location: Dickson, TN - Students: 578 - Graduation rate: 67% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $26,500 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 81%

Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Dickson is one of the smallest schools in terms of enrollment on the top 100 list, with just 565 students. The most popular majors are licensed practical nurse (LPN) training, heavy equipment maintenance technician, and cosmetology. Those who attend have said this intimate group makes the school feel “like family.”

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#94. New Mexico Junior College

- Location: Hobbs, NM - Students: 735 - Students to faculty ratio: 14:1 - Graduation rate: 26% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $29,200 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 82%

Sporty types will feel right at home at New Mexico Junior College. The school competes as part of the National Junior College Athletic Association’s Division I and includes multiple NBA players as alumni in addition to MLB pitcher Nick Pivetta.

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#93. Lorenzo Walker Institute of Technology

- Location: Naples, FL - Students: 443 - Graduation rate: 81% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $26,400 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 79%

Cost is a concern for some Lorenzo Walker Institute of Technology students, but many students say the school provides excellent support. Some say that the financial aid office really takes their time explaining everything as students go through the process.

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#92. Northeast Alabama Community College

- Location: Rainsville, AL - Students: 1,176 - Students to faculty ratio: 18:1 - Graduation rate: 50% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $27,900 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 83%

In multiple years, Northeast Alabama Community College has been named one of the best community colleges in the nation. The designation was bestowed on the college by the Aspen Institute, a leading public policy organization in Washington D.C., that studies education policy.

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#91. Manchester Community College - New Hampshire

- Location: Manchester, NH - Students: 805 - Students to faculty ratio: 13:1 - Graduation rate: 51% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $36,800 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 90%

Manchester Community College - New Hampshire was created for military members coming home from World War II in 1945. Now, the school serves a much broader demographic, serving over 3,500 students per semester from 50 countries.

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#90. Aims Community College

- Location: Greeley, CO - Students: 2,200 - Students to faculty ratio: 16:1 - Graduation rate: 31% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $34,400 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 84%

Students looking toward careers in aviation may wish to consider Aims Community College. The school purchased a hangar, warehouse, and office space at the Northern Colorado Regional Airport, featuring flight simulators and other instructional programs to teach students how to fly.

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#89. Illinois Valley Community College

- Location: Oglesby, IL - Students: 1,099 - Students to faculty ratio: 15:1 - Graduation rate: 36% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $30,700 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 87%

Students at Illinois Valley Community College rave about the quality of instruction and guidance they receive. They say that counselors, advisers, and professors alike are all committed to spending one-on-one time and taking a personal approach to making sure students get whatever they need.

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#88. Mid-Plains Community College

- Location: North Platte, NE - Students: 745 - Students to faculty ratio: 10:1 - Graduation rate: 49% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $31,100 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 90%

Mid-Plains Community College can lay claim to being the oldest community college in Nebraska. This is because in a 1973 merger, the oldest community college in the state, McCook Junior College, was folded into the institution, dating it back to 1926.

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#87. McLennan Community College

- Location: Waco, TX - Students: 2,746 - Students to faculty ratio: 16:1 - Graduation rate: 29% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $30,000 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 86%

Students interested in ranching and farming have an additional incentive to consider McLennan Community College due to a piece of property the school owns. Highlander Ranch has 200 bucolic acres just five miles away from campus.

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#86. Sarasota County Technical Institute

- Location: Sarasota, FL - Students: 408 - Students to faculty ratio: 4:1 - Graduation rate: 38% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $26,700 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 88%

Budding chefs may want to consider Sarasota County Technical Institute in particular. Students say that the culinary programs are rigorous and excellent, and prepares them for real-world careers in the food industry.

 

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#85. Pinellas Technical College - St. Petersburg

- Location: St. Petersburg, FL - Students: 639 - Graduation rate: 51% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $27,500 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 79%

In addition to giving high marks to classes and instructors, students at Pinellas Technical College - St. Petersburg also like the campus. Students say that they feel safe on campus, have access to great food in the cafeteria, and that campus grounds are clean and beautiful.

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#84. Southeast Community College

- Location: Lincoln, NE - Students: 3,413 - Students to faculty ratio: 12:1 - Graduation rate: 42% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $37,000 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 91%

Southeast Community College has a significant presence in Lincoln. There are three campuses, some dedicated to current students, others to alumni and continuing education, and others to the energy sphere. Another area is designed to support professional development for more health service workers.

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#83. Nicolet College

- Location: Rhinelander, WI - Students: 275 - Students to faculty ratio: 9:1 - Graduation rate: 55% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $29,900 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 87%

Nicolet College may have its own campus now, but this wasn’t always the case. In what must have been a truly unique and memorable classroom experience, early classes at the college were held at the Rhinelander Fire Department.

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#82. Hutchinson Community College

- Location: Hutchinson, KS - Students: 1,939 - Students to faculty ratio: 17:1 - Graduation rate: 54% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $33,800 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 90%

Hutchinson Community College students have a special and unique place to go on campus to take a break from their studies or learn something new. The campus shares its home with the Cosmosphere, a museum dedicated to outer space and the cosmos.

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#81. De Anza College

- Location: Cupertino, CA - Students: 9,318 - Students to faculty ratio: 29:1 - Graduation rate: 68% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $41,700 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 85%

De Anza College is known for being the top college in the Silicon Valley area for transfers to four-year schools. Eligible students receive free tuition and fees for two years, $1,000 total toward course materials, and support via services, counselors, and other activities. 

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#80. Barstow Community College

- Location: Barstow, CA - Students: 1,250 - Students to faculty ratio: 24:1 - Graduation rate: 31% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $29,900 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 69%

One of the most unique facets of Barstow Community College is its location. The school is located in the Mojave Desert, which gives students the opportunity to take weekend trips to world-famous Joshua Tree National Park nearby.

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#79. Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Shelbyville

- Location: Shelbyville, TN - Students: 316 - Graduation rate: 74% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $33,200 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 80%

Instructors get top marks at Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Shelbyville. Even students in demanding fields like medicine say that, although the workload and material can be challenging, they felt equipped and supported to meet the challenge.

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#78. Lincoln Land Community College

- Location: Springfield, IL - Students: 2,177 - Students to faculty ratio: 20:1 - Graduation rate: 42% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $29,600 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 86%

Lincoln Land Community College has a diverse list of notable alumni. Among them are NASCAR driver Justin Allgaier and former state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout.

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#77. Oakton Community College

- Location: Des Plaines, Skokie, IL - Students: 2,408 - Students to faculty ratio: 15:1 - Graduation rate: 35% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $38,500 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 86%

Movie buffs have a particular reason to attend Oakton Community College. The beloved 1984 cult classic film “Sixteen Candles” was filmed at the campus, albeit when the campus was home to another school.

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#76. Dakota County Technical College

- Location: Rosemount, MN - Students: 1,371 - Students to faculty ratio: 21:1 - Graduation rate: 63% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $38,500 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 91%

Students with a green thumb — or an interest in developing one — may wish to consider Dakota County Technical College. The school has an ambitious 22-acre wildflower restoration program.

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#75. Montgomery College

- Location: Montgomery County, MD - Students: 7,305 - Students to faculty ratio: 17:1 - Graduation rate: 28% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $40,700 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 87%

Montgomery College’s racial integration did not have an easy road. When the school was finally integrated in 1950, only half the enrolled class of new African American students were able to attend due to difficulties with transportation and tuition.

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#74. Lurleen B. Wallace Community College

- Location: Andalusia, AL - Students: 866 - Students to faculty ratio: 17:1 - Graduation rate: 46% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $26,500 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 82%

Lurleen B. Wallace Community College has campuses across the state of Alabama, not only in Andalusia but also in Greenville, Opp, and Luverne. The college was named after the first female governor of Alabama, whose official state portrait is a painting of her in a ballgown.

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#73. Southern Arkansas University Tech

- Location: Camden, AR - Students: 424 - Students to faculty ratio: 15:1 - Graduation rate: 67% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $26,700 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 82%

Students interested in media careers may wish to consider Southern Arkansas University Tech. The school has added a multimedia division, from which students have gone on to have successful careers at advertising agencies and in other creative-based professions.

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#72. Santiago Canyon College - Orange

- Location: Orange, CA - Students: 3,202 - Students to faculty ratio: 37:1 - Graduation rate: 44%

Architecture buffs will love spending time on campus at Santiago Canyon College - Orange. The school’s science center and library were constructed by LPA Architecture.

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#71. South Georgia Technical College

- Location: Americus, GA - Students: 1,000 - Students to faculty ratio: 17:1 - Graduation rate: 67% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $23,400 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 81%

South Georgia Technical College has an illustrious military history. The college was originally an aviation training site during World War I and World War II and is the site where famed aviator Charles A. Lindbergh bought his first plane.

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#70. Lamar Institute of Technology

- Location: Beaumont, TX - Students: 1,524 - Students to faculty ratio: 19:1 - Graduation rate: 37% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $35,700 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 89%

Texas companies are paying attention to Lamar Institute of Technology students. In 2020, Entergy Texas donated $50,000 to help students complete the college’s Utility Line Technology program, which gives students the prospect of working for the company.

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#69. Taft College

- Location: Taft, CA - Students: 1,334 - Students to faculty ratio: 33:1 - Graduation rate: 38% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $31,800 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 82%

Students looking to become dentists have a unique opportunity at Taft College. The college has a dental hygiene clinic that is open to the public, where students are overseen by licensed dentists.

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#68. GateWay Community College

- Location: Phoenix, AZ - Students: 1,283 - Students to faculty ratio: 15:1 - Graduation rate: 32% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $34,100 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 82%

High school students who live in Phoenix are offered educational programs at GateWay Community College. A relatively new program will allow them to enroll in college classes while they are still in high school, and eventually earn an associate’s degree by taking such courses.

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#67. Mt. San Antonio College

- Location: Walnut, CA - Students: 10,394 - Students to faculty ratio: 24:1 - Graduation rate: 39% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $35,000 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 84%

Mt. San Antonio College has something for everyone. The university offers career education, community recreation, associate degrees, and even a summer camp for young people in the area, which prepares them for life on campus.

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#66. Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Elizabethton

- Location: Elizabethton, TN - Students: 419 - Graduation rate: 71% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $26,400 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 79%

Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Elizabethton has a student body size that fosters a sense of community. Students say that everyone is there to support each other in learning and that online classes give flexibility for parents and others who might have difficulty attending in-person classes.

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#65. Central Wyoming College

- Location: Riverton, WY - Students: 664 - Students to faculty ratio: 15:1 - Graduation rate: 48% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $28,400 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 83%

Students interested in broadcasting have a unique opportunity at Central Wyoming College. The campus is home to Wyoming’s only public television network, Wyoming PBS.

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#64. Eastern Arizona College

- Location: Thatcher, AZ - Students: 1,762 - Students to faculty ratio: 19:1 - Graduation rate: 49% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $29,200 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 76%

The musically inclined may want to give Eastern Arizona College a closer look. The college is the only community college in Arizona to have a marching band, and welcomes everyone, including freshmen, into their ranks.

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#63. Kauai Community College

- Location: Lihue, HI - Students: 346 - Students to faculty ratio: 10:1 - Graduation rate: 28% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $39,000 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 84%

In addition to excellent academics, Kauaʻi Community College boasts a stunning campus. It is located on the verdant island of Kauaʻi, which is known as Hawaii’s “garden island.”

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#62. Northcentral Technical College

- Location: Wausau, WI - Students: 1,294 - Students to faculty ratio: 12:1 - Graduation rate: 34% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $36,000 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 89%

Northcentral Technical College makes every effort to make students feel they are at a real home away from home, getting a full college experience. The college offers robust dorm life and campus life programs, including a disc golf course for students who want to connect over sports.

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#61. Chippewa Valley Technical College

- Location: Eau Claire, WI - Students: 2,147 - Students to faculty ratio: 14:1 - Graduation rate: 50% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $35,700 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 92%

Chippewa Valley Technical College is extremely vocation-oriented. The school’s president has called the college vital to the local economy, stressing that trained graduates work across sectors and industries in the area.

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#60. Howard Community College

- Location: Columbia, MD - Students: 3,194 - Students to faculty ratio: 14:1 - Graduation rate: 32% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $38,600 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 88%

High-tech students will especially appreciate Howard Community College. In 2017, the college opened a new building with state-of-the-art equipment to focus on teaching cybersecurity and 3D printing, among other in-demand areas for career development and growth.

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#59. Alexandria Technical & Community College

- Location: Alexandria, MN - Students: 1,100 - Students to faculty ratio: 22:1 - Graduation rate: 65% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $38,500 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 95%

Options abound for students at Alexandria Technical & Community College. Students say that the opportunities afforded to them on campus in the form of additional certifications and courses expanded their horizons beyond where they knew was possible when they enrolled.

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#58. Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Newbern

- Location: Newbern, TN - Students: 278 - Graduation rate: 80% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $27,200 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 81%

Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Newbern students say that their experience at the school has been transformative in many ways. Some say that attending the school is the first time they have ever enjoyed attending a school at all, while others rave about the advancement in their technical skills in the course of just a year.

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#57. Windward Community College

- Location: Kaneohe, HI - Students: 649 - Students to faculty ratio: 17:1 - Graduation rate: 32% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $29,600 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 80%

Windward Community College has a party unlike any other likely to be found on another college campus. The annual Ho’olaule’a is a traditional Hawaiian festival that involves dancers, food, and fun, and draws over 10,000 people.

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#56. Northeast Wisconsin Technical College

- Location: Green Bay, WI - Students: 2,502 - Students to faculty ratio: 16:1 - Graduation rate: 48% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $35,900 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 89%

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College has transfer agreements with roughly 40 other universities. The college is a key player in the economy, as NWTC works with more than 1,100 businesses every year to train employees.

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#55. Orange Coast College

- Location: Costa Mesa, CA - Students: 7,833 - Students to faculty ratio: 28:1 - Graduation rate: 44% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $38,100 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 84%

Orange Coast College owes its campus, at least, to the end of World War II. Several years after the war ended, the U.S. government decided it didn’t need the land anymore for an air base or as part of the War Assets Administration, and it was awarded for the construction of a community college.

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#54. Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology

- Location: Lancaster, PA - Students: 1,319 - Students to faculty ratio: 16:1 - Graduation rate: 61% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $45,600 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 92%

Students at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology give high marks for academics and job placement. Students also say they have a high level of confidence that the school will make them competitive job applicants, particularly in fields like welding.

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#53. Elgin Community College

- Location: Elgin, IL - Students: 3,212 - Students to faculty ratio: 20:1 - Graduation rate: 46% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $32,300 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 88%

Elgin Community College’s campus has a unique history. It was originally a farm colony, and became a campus after local government voted to approve land to turn it into a seat of higher education.

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#52. Amarillo College

- Location: Amarillo, TX - Students: 3,466 - Students to faculty ratio: 22:1 - Graduation rate: 36% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $32,400 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 86%

Amarillo College was one of the first colleges in the state of Texas to racially integrate. The state’s NAACP chapter argued that African American residents paid taxes in the state, and therefore had the right to attend.

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#51. Lake Land College

- Location: Mattoon, IL - Students: 2,082 - Students to faculty ratio: 19:1 - Graduation rate: 60% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $29,100 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 89%

Lake Land College, ranked among the top 10% of community colleges in the nation by the Aspen Institute, is a top choice among in-district high school graduates going to college. The school, founded in 1966, features advanced technology and an affordable in-state annual tuition rate of $7,954.

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#50. Kapi'olani Community College

- Location: Honolulu, HI - Students: 2,186 - Students to faculty ratio: 16:1 - Graduation rate: 25% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $37,200 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 85%

Kapi'olani Community College has an exceptional namesake. This one is a former Hawaiian chieftess and queen who the college says strove for excellence in everything she did, which the college adopts as its mantra today.

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#49. Pickens Technical College

- Location: Aurora, CO - Students: 1,020 - Students to faculty ratio: 23:1 - Graduation rate: 69% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $33,100 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 81%

Pickens Technical College stresses the excellence and expertise of their professors. They say that classes focus on hands-on learning, and that professors tend to be leaders in their fields, which makes them feel they are getting a top-caliber education.

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#48. Piedmont Virginia Community College

- Location: Charlottesville, VA - Students: 1,116 - Students to faculty ratio: 20:1 - Graduation rate: 49% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $31,100 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 89%

One of the newest offerings at Piedmont Virginia Community College is culinary arts. Students have the option of studying culinary arts thanks in part to an anonymous donation for culinary equipment, which is part of an expansion to the college grounds.

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#47. Stanly Community College

- Location: Albemarle, NC - Students: 668 - Students to faculty ratio: 14:1 - Graduation rate: 55% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $28,200 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 83%

Stanly Community College stands out for its personalized attention to its students. Students rave about the many options in clubs and classes available to suit just about any interest, and how willing everyone from professors to the administration is to working with students.

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#46. John Wood Community College

- Location: Quincy, IL - Students: 917 - Students to faculty ratio: 13:1 - Graduation rate: 49% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $29,900 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 88%

Students say they enjoy their experience at John Wood Community College. Some students were considering four-year colleges, and report being glad to have made the decision to attend John Wood Community College, thanks to the excellent value and quality of instruction it provides.

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#45. Northern Oklahoma College

- Location: Tonkawa, OK - Students: 1,598 - Students to faculty ratio: 17:1 - Graduation rate: 42% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $30,900 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 86%

Northern Oklahoma College prides itself on expanding access to educational opportunities for people who might not otherwise have them. The university has been a leader in allowing for online education, making it possible for students in more-rural areas to obtain degrees from the school.

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#44. Las Positas College

- Location: Livermore, CA - Students: 2,956 - Students to faculty ratio: 25:1 - Graduation rate: 51% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $38,500 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 83%

Students looking to transfer to one of the famed University of California schools like Berkeley or UCLA may wish to consider Las Positas College. The school says it excels at preparing students to transfer to four-year schools within the UC system.

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#43. Cuesta College

- Location: San Luis Obispo, CA - Students: 3,166 - Students to faculty ratio: 28:1 - Graduation rate: 42% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $35,600 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 84%

Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo has had a remarkably diverse graduating class in recent years. In 2019, the college graduated its largest number of students ever, including a 77-year-old, and 14 students with an average 4.0 GPA.

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#42. Waukesha County Technical College

- Location: Pewaukee, WI - Students: 1,569 - Students to faculty ratio: 21:1 - Graduation rate: 49% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $35,900 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 89%

Students interested in all walks of life have reason to pursue degrees at Waukesha County Technical College. Alumni include fashion designer Keri Craig-Lee, legislator Paul Farrow, and mixed martial art fighter Ben Rothwell.

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#41. North Dakota State College of Science

- Location: Wahpeton, ND - Students: 1,522 - Students to faculty ratio: 12:1 - Graduation rate: 57% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $43,400 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 93%

North Dakota State College of Science has a relatively historic campus. The original building was designed in 1891 by the noted architect, John H. Coxhead, and is still where many activities on campus take place today.

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#40. Central Lakes College - Brainerd

- Location: Brainerd, MN - Students: 1,622 - Students to faculty ratio: 18:1 - Graduation rate: 52% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $33,800 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 90%

Central Lakes College - Brainerd has a number of unique degrees. One of these is undersea search and recovery, which allows students to learn with firsthand experience how to search and rescue underwater.

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#39. Southeastern Community College - Iowa

- Location: West Burlington, IA - Students: 1,163 - Students to faculty ratio: 16:1 - Graduation rate: 39% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $28,500 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 87%

With just 1,212 students, Southeastern Community College - Iowa offers students the opportunity to forge a tight-knit community with their professors and each other, which many students say goes a long way to making campus feel like a home. Students also boast about the upgraded lab facilities as well.

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#38. Santa Barbara City College

- Location: Santa Barbara, CA - Students: 6,555 - Students to faculty ratio: 27:1 - Graduation rate: 48% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $36,800 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 82%

Nature and ocean lovers, in particular, may wish to consider Santa Barbara City College. The campus is situated on 74 acres on top of a bluff, overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

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#37. Johnson County Community College

- Location: Overland Park, KS - Students: 5,541 - Students to faculty ratio: 19:1 - Graduation rate: 33% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $36,600 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 88%

Art lovers will have much to admire in Johnson County Community College. The school opened a museum of contemporary art, which has everything from Native American art to new media installations.

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#36. SOWELA Technical Community College

- Location: Lake Charles, LA - Students: 1,887 - Students to faculty ratio: 21:1 - Graduation rate: 50% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $34,200 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 88%

SOWELA Technical Community College was devastated by Hurricane Rita in 2005, but the college, campus, and community came back stronger than ever. In the wake of the hurricane, numerous new buildings were constructed on campus, including a process technology center made possible by the energy company Phillips 66.

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#35. Lewis and Clark Community College

- Location: Godfrey, IL - Students: 1,690 - Students to faculty ratio: 18:1 - Graduation rate: 50% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $27,400 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 86%

Lewis and Clark Community College has nine locations throughout the St. Louis area, and across the river in Illinois. The Godfrey campus wasn’t always a seat of academia — it was originally a seminary for women that opened in 1838.

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#34. McFatter Technical College

- Location: Davie, FL - Students: 1,174 - Students to faculty ratio: 14:1 - Graduation rate: 62% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $36,600 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 85%

Some of the most popular majors at McFatter Technical College include those for first responders, such as fire science and fire fighting, EMT paramedic, and licensed practical nurse training. While many schools choose animals or recognizable characters as mascots, McFatter Technical College takes a slightly different approach. The school’s emblem of choice? A storm.

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#33. Southeast Technical Institute

- Location: Sioux Falls, SD - Students: 1,349 - Students to faculty ratio: 13:1 - Graduation rate: 63% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $38,200 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 94%

A high school summer program at Southeast Technical Institute has convinced some students to stay on for college. Learners 2 Leaders offers select students the opportunity to take five college-level courses at no cost.

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#32. State Technical College of Missouri

- Location: Linn, MO - Students: 1,425 - Students to faculty ratio: 14:1 - Graduation rate: 76% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $39,900 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 95%

News of State Technical College of Missouri registered a record enrollment in the 2018 school year, with both total enrollment and new students at a record high. State Tech has over 50 labs on campus, from an aviation hangar to a health science lab, and prides itself on its hands-on approach to learning. 

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#31. Harper College

- Location: Palatine, IL - Students: 4,519 - Students to faculty ratio: 19:1 - Graduation rate: 45% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $37,300 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 88%

As far as namesakes go, Harper College couldn’t have a more apt one. The school was named for William Rainey Harper, a pioneer in the junior college movement in the United States who was also the first president of the University of Chicago.

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#30. Collins Career Technical Center

- Location: Chesapeake, OH - Students: 345 - Graduation rate: 67% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $33,500 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 84%

Collins Career Center focuses on career prep and technical skills. The school thrives by helping students prepare for a diverse range of careers, from roles in doctors' offices to pipeline construction.

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#29. Wallace Community College - Dothan

- Location: Dothan, AL - Students: 1,762 - Students to faculty ratio: 16:1 - Graduation rate: 38% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $24,700 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 82%

One could be forgiven for thinking Wallace Community College - Dothan was named after the famous former governor of Alabama, George Wallace, but the college was actually named after his father, who had struggled to obtain an education himself and wanted to make it easier for others.

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#28. Southwest Mississippi Community College

- Location: Summit, MS - Students: 1,697 - Students to faculty ratio: 23:1 - Graduation rate: 56% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $24,800 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 85%

Southwest Mississippi Community College began as an agricultural high school. A decade later, during the Great Depression, the school started integrating college courses into the curriculum, allowing it to transition into a community college.

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#27. University of South Carolina Sumter

- Location: Sumter, SC - Students: 555 - Students to faculty ratio: 14:1 - Graduation rate: 59% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $34,300 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 90%

Football fans have a big reason to attend the University of South Carolina Sumter. The school was once a part of Clemson University, and a heated rivalry football game between the schools (Clemson vs. the main University of South Carolina) is held each fall.

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#26. Southwest Wisconsin Technical College

- Location: Fennimore, WI - Students: 722 - Students to faculty ratio: 15:1 - Graduation rate: 62% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $33,200 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 90%

While the focus of the school was once primarily agricultural, Southwest Wisconsin Technical College has since expanded its offerings and is now more holistic, offering courses in health and science.

 

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#25. Florida Panhandle Technical College

- Location: Chipley, FL - Students: 257 - Graduation rate: 91% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $24,000 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 78%

Students love the opportunity to accelerate their careers at Florida Panhandle Technical College. They say that although the workload is heavy, they are able to become nurses in just one year, which is not possible at many other programs.

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#24. Minnesota State Community and Technical College

- Location: Fergus Falls, MN - Students: 2,219 - Students to faculty ratio: 23:1 - Graduation rate: 82% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $36,200 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 90%

Minnesota State Community and Technical College could be a particularly good option for students looking to take courses online. The school has more than 25 programs offered online, including its eCampus, which is available to high schoolers.

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#23. Holmes Community College

- Location: Goodman, MS - Students: 3,343 - Students to faculty ratio: 17:1 - Graduation rate: 46% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $28,300 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 87%

Holmes Community College has been the starting point for numerous professional athletes. Major League Baseball player Roy Oswalt is an alumnus, as is National Football League player Walter Jones.

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#22. Marion Technical College - Florida

- Location: Ocala, FL - Students: 339 - Students to faculty ratio: 6:1 - Graduation rate: 75% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $20,900 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 78%

Marion Technical College - Florida is a small, highly personalized institution. The college has only a small number of students and those who have enrolled laud the close attention they receive from the faculty.

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#21. Northwest Vista College

- Location: San Antonio, TX - Students: 4,735 - Students to faculty ratio: 31:1 - Graduation rate: 41% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $34,600 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 88%

Early childhood education and business are two of the most popular majors at Northwest Vista College. The school also has an interesting story behind its selection of a wildcat for a mascot: The wildcat was chosen after a cub was spotted on campus, leading to speculation that more of the creatures must be lurking about nearby.

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#20. San Jacinto College

- Location: Pasadena, TX - Students: 9,244 - Students to faculty ratio: 22:1 - Graduation rate: 37% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $37,700 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 87%

San Jacinto College was hit hard by Hurricane Ike in 2008. Despite the destruction wrought across campus, the community was able to rebuild at such a quick speed that students were back in class in just a few weeks.

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#19. Marion Military Institute

- Location: Marion, AL - Students: 407 - Students to faculty ratio: 15:1 - Graduation rate: 72% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $42,700 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 92%

Students with a deep interest in the military have numerous reasons to consider Marion Military Institute. One such reason is the school’s history, as it was the first military junior college ever established in the United States.

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#18. Mountainland Technical College

- Location: Lehi, UT - Students: 439 - Graduation rate: 82%

Mountainland Technical College students who want the experience of studying at a traditional four-year college have the opportunity to do so. The school allows students to take classes at the nearby Utah Valley University.

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#17. Ridgewater College

- Location: Willmar, MN - Students: 1,895 - Students to faculty ratio: 20:1 - Graduation rate: 51% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $33,300 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 93%

Ridgewater College students are likely to meet a wide array of students on campus. The school focuses equally on the liberal arts, applied sciences, and vocational programs, offering students a range of options and the odds of making friends with others who are not exactly like them.

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#16. Northwood Technical College (formerly Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College)

- Location: Rice Lake, WI - Students: 1,108 - Students to faculty ratio: 8:1 - Graduation rate: 46% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $32,500 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 90%

Northwood Technical College has an incredible breadth of degrees offered on campus. Over 100 courses of study are offered in more than 60 fields of study, from farming to accounting to cabinetmaking.

Note: The data points above reflect that of the former Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, which changed its name to Northwood Technical College, located in Rice Lake, WI, in 2021.

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#15. Western Technical College

- Location: La Crosse, WI - Students: 1,823 - Students to faculty ratio: 9:1 - Graduation rate: 63% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $34,900 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 90%

Western Technical College students have plenty of options when it comes to learning the skills they’ll need to advance their careers. They have several campus locations from which to choose — albeit its main location is in downtown La Crosse — where they can take training courses in whatever field they wish to study.

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#14. North Central Kansas Technical College

- Location: Beloit, KS - Students: 422 - Students to faculty ratio: 10:1 - Graduation rate: 63% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $39,600 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 92%

North Central Kansas Technical College is another of the smallest schools on the list, and students say they feel everyone pulls in the same direction to support each other. Students say that they feel they get out of the experience what they put in, and that there is a “family environment.”

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#13. Manatee Technical Institute

- Location: Bradenton, FL - Students: 867 - Students to faculty ratio: 12:1 - Graduation rate: 89% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $28,800 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 79%

Manatee Technical Institute has a small student-to-faculty ratio, and this is reflected in comments from students about how much attention and care they feel they are given by the faculty. Students add that they also feel prepared to step into their future thanks to their education at Manatee.

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#12. Charlotte Technical Center - Adult Education

- Location: Port Charlotte, FL - Students: 453 - Graduation rate: 93% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $30,800 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 76%

Students say the caliber of instruction they received at Charlotte Technical Center - Adult Education was outstanding. Students call their professors “wonderful” and remark that they had a very caring attitude about getting to know them personally outside of class.

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#11. Mitchell Technical College

- Location: Mitchell, SD - Students: 848 - Students to faculty ratio: 13:1 - Graduation rate: 76% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $39,700 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 92%

Mitchell Technical College was the recipient of a $1 million donation in 2014. The contribution was made by a businessman in the state and was the largest donation ever given to a technical college in South Dakota.

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#10. White Mountains Community College

- Location: Berlin, NH - Students: 252 - Students to faculty ratio: 7:1 - Graduation rate: 54% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $35,100 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 88%

Outdoorsy students may wish to consider White Mountains Community College. Located amid the mountains and forests of New Hampshire, the location offers students excellent opportunities for hiking and other outdoor activities on the weekends.

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#9. Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture

- Location: Curtis, NE - Students: 230 - Students to faculty ratio: 13:1 - Graduation rate: 45% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $46,400 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 96%

Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture was originally a boarding school for rural high school students without a nearby institution. It wasn’t for another 50 years that the school transitioned into a community college with a focus on agriculture.

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#8. Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute

- Location: Wooster, OH - Students: 526 - Students to faculty ratio: 13:1 - Graduation rate: 69% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $46,100 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 94%

Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute excels in farming studies and skills. In 2019, a team from the university came in first place in the Ohio Dairy Challenge competition, beating out 18 other teams.

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#7. Indian Capital Technology Center - Muskogee

- Location: Muskogee, OK - Students: 340 - Graduation rate: 73% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $24,700 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 77%

Students at Indian Capital Technology Center - Muskogee say that the school is wonderful for anyone wanting to go in to achieve a specific career goal. They say the nursing program, in particular, provides excellent preparation for a career in nursing.

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#6. Cloud County Community College

- Location: Concordia, KS - Students: 777 - Students to faculty ratio: 13:1 - Graduation rate: 59% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $30,700 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 91%

Architecture buffs will find much to admire at Cloud County Community College. Some of the campus buildings are designed as pods, meant to resemble the rolling hills in the distance.

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#5. Fox Valley Technical College

- Location: Appleton, WI - Students: 2,092 - Students to faculty ratio: 11:1 - Graduation rate: 60% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $36,100 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 90%

Fox Valley Technical College opened a state-of-the-art public safety training center, which even has a Boeing 727 donated by FedEx.

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#4. Western Iowa Tech Community College

- Location: Sioux City, IA - Students: 1,792 - Students to faculty ratio: 16:1 - Graduation rate: 45% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $31,500 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 90%

Students interested in cooking might want to take a look at Western Iowa Tech Community College. The school added a culinary arts program in 2014, and graduated its first class the following year.

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#3. Lake Area Technical College

- Location: Watertown, SD - Students: 1,507 - Students to faculty ratio: 17:1 - Graduation rate: 75% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $36,900 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 95%

Lake Area Technical Institute was the first technical institute founded in the state of South Dakota. The school emphasizes that 81% of graduates stay and work in the community.

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#2. University of South Carolina Lancaster

- Location: Lancaster, SC - Students: 715 - Students to faculty ratio: 14:1 - Graduation rate: 36% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $44,900 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 95%

University of South Carolina Lancaster has a unique offering for those looking to explore the history of the region's Indigenous people. The Native American Studies Center looks at the history of South Carolina’s native people.

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#1. New Mexico Military Institute

- Location: Roswell, NM - Students: 487 - Students to faculty ratio: 16:1 - Graduation rate: 65% - Median earnings six years after graduation: $39,700 - Employment rate two years after graduation: 94%

Graduates of the New Mexico Military Institute have gone on to land illustrious careers in various sectors. Among the alumni include cable television pioneer Bill Daniels and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Paul Horgan.


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