5 suburban community colleges make website's Top 10
Five suburban community colleges ranked among Illinois' 10 best community colleges, according to Schools.com.
Waubonsee Community College in Sugar Grove and Elgin Community College came in fourth and fifth place, respectively. Oakton Community College in Des Plaines placed seventh, while McHenry County College in Crystal Lake and Harper College in Palatine ranked eighth and ninth, respectively.
Schools.com provides education information and resources for current and prospective students. The website analyzed data released by the National Center for Education Statistics and other independent agencies. Colleges were scored on a 10-point scale on: percentage of students enrolled in distance education; attendance costs, including tuition and books; student-to-faculty ratio; average retention rate for full- and part-time students; graduation rate over a two-year average; transfer rate to a senior institution; and flexibility of programming.
Waubonsee is among four schools on the list with high transfer rates. The college's tuition and fees were about $900 less than the statewide average, and the school ranked No. 1 for affordability in 2014, the website said.
ECC's retention rate, which measures the percentage of first-time students who remain enrolled after the first two semesters, was the best among community colleges in Illinois in 2014. Tuition and fees were only a few dollars more than the most affordable institution in the state, placing it No. 2 in that category and costing about $850 less than the systemwide average, the data show.
The college also offers special programs for specific populations, including international students, military veterans, at-risk youth, English Language Learners and students more than 50 years old.
Oakton was among the top four institutions within the top 10 in the retention rate and transfer rate categories. The college also has a better-than-average rate of online enrollment with options to get course credit for life experiences and select degree plans that can be earned entirely through weekend or evening classes, according to the report.
MCC, though not as affordable in the areas of tuition, fees, books and supplies, had the third-highest rate of student transfers to four-year institutions among the top 10 schools. It placed among the top 10 campuses statewide in retention rate. Online enrollment at MCC also is strong, with one student in four taking at least some distance education courses in 2014, the report shows.
Harper College, which has the largest student population among the top 10 colleges with nearly 15,000 students, ranked No. 2 in the state for student retention. Attendance costs for the 2014-15 academic year ranked it among the top four most affordable among the top 10. Online enrollment at Harper was lowest among the top 10 schools, but weekend/evening courses and on-campus day care provided access for students who otherwise might have trouble committing to a traditional schedule of classes, the report said.
About 26 percent of students at Harper are enrolled in career or technical programs, according to data from the Illinois Community College Board.