Six Minnesota state colleges ranked among top 50 two-year colleges in the country

Posted: August 30, 2010

Contact: Doug Anderson,, 651-201-1426

Saint Paul College ranks as No. 1 among 650 community colleges

A national publication has ranked six two-year colleges in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system among the top 50 community colleges in the country.

The annual ranking of "America's Best Colleges" was published in the September/October issue of Washington Monthly magazine, which has been ranking community colleges since 2007.

Saint Paul College ranked first based on such measures as student-faculty interaction, support for learning, graduation rates and collaborative learning methods. Saint Paul College also was cited for efficiency by spending less than $10,000 per student.

The other system institutions recognized in the rankings are the Northeast Higher Education District-Itasca Community College, No. 5; Alexandria Technical and Community College, No. 8; Minnesota West Community and Technical College, Pipestone, No. 30; Minnesota State Community and Technical College, Fergus Falls, No. 37; and the Northeast Higher Education District-Vermilion Community College, No. 43.

The rankings are based on data provided by the Community College Survey of Student Engagement, established by the Community College Leadership Program at The University of Texas at Austin, and graduation data from the U.S. Department of Education. Student engagement data comes from surveys of students at about 650 community colleges.

“While all the community colleges on the list are inexpensive, have open admissions and are largely unknown outside their local communities, they stand out in teaching and helping students earn degrees,” wrote Kevin Carey, policy director of Education Sector, a Washington, D.C. based think tank, in Washington Monthly. “When it comes to quality of instruction they outperform not only their two-year peers, but many elite four-year research universities as well. At the best community colleges, teaching comes first.”

Scott Olson, interim vice chancellor of academic and student affairs, said: “We are pleased that six of our colleges ranked among the top 50 in the nation. Faculty and staff at all 25 community and technical colleges have worked hard to engage students, keep costs low and serve groups that traditionally have been underrepresented in higher education - low-income students, students of color and first-generation college students. Being recognized for these efforts is gratifying, but the real reward is in helping all those students achieve their dreams.”