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August 22, 2016

Study: Pennsylvania's community colleges rank worst in U.S.

New Jersey's two-year schools are not faring too much better

Among the states included in WalletHub’s new "Best & Worst Community College Rankings" list, Pennsylvania finished dead last.

To determine the rankings, WalletHub assessed 821 different community colleges across the United States, based on 12 key metrics in the following categories: cost and financing; education outcomes; and career outcomes. The website touts value of a community college education, even in comparison to a four-year degree:

"(W)hile community colleges continue to be the butt of jokes, their graduates are getting the last laugh as they out-earn bachelor’s degree holders and their alma maters finally earn respect. Across the board, community colleges are slowly stacking up against their university counterparts by offering better schedule flexibility, smaller class sizes and comparatively rigorous coursework, including bachelor’s degree programs in some states at a fraction of the university cost."

Pennsylvania ranked 47th out of 47 states included in the WalletHub study behind Oregon (46), Ohio (45) and Louisiana (44). Delaware, Rhode Island and Vermont were not included in the study.

New Jersey wasn’t much better, finishing in the bottom half of the pack at No. 32 in the state rankings, behind Oklahoma and ahead of Massachusetts.

South Dakota placed No. 1 on the list.

Source: WalletHub

WalletHub also ranked the best and worst individual community colleges in the U.S., and, as would be expected based on Pennsylvania's poor statewide rank, the Keystone State didn’t fair well on that list either.

Of the 821 community colleges ranked, Williamsport's Pennsylvania College of Technology finished a respectable No. 159, but that seemingly was an anomaly.

The other 14 Pennsylvania community colleges analyzed placed in the bottom half of the rankings — including 10 that ranked among the bottom quarter of schools.

Locally, Delaware County Community College (703)  trumped Montgomery County Community College (709), Bucks County Community College (743), and Community College of Philadelphia. (816) all placed among the worst 15 percent of community colleges on the list.

In South Jersey, Salem Community College (146), Burlington County College and Ocean County College (228) each ranked in top third of U.S. schools. While Cumberland County College ranked No. 322.

Mercer County Community College (444), Rowan College at Gloucester County (530), Camden County College (593) and Atlantic Cape Community College (730) placed in the bottom half of schools on WalletHub's list.

To read more about the rankings of the individual community colleges here.