The future of post-secondary education is rife with uncertainty as four-year colleges and universities become schools for the wealthy and junior colleges and community colleges become the provence of the middle-class.
Columbia-Greene Community College continues to fly in the face of this trend as it accelerates programs that stress diversity in education and job training. The college was rewarded for its progressive thinking Wednesday by being named the top community college in New York state and 10th in the nation for excellence in cost and financing, education outcomes and career outcomes.
Tops in the state and 10th among 710 community colleges surveyed by WalletHub, a research company. Think about that. We have one of the best community colleges in the United States right at our doorstep for what we expect from a two-year school: affordability, high-quality programs in all fields, high graduation rate and career preparation.
Now think about how much poorer Greene and Columbia counties would be without the college and its rich variety of programs, students and teachers. The presence of a college changes its host community or, in this case, communities, for the better. Imagine the expanded role Columbia-Greene will play in this community 20 years from now.
The college has been a pillar for the last 50 years. Today, for under $5,000 a year, students can get a first-rate education. The college’s graduation rate is 35%, well above the national average of 22%. The retention rate is 64%, indicating students want to continue their education at a place of high academic quality.
There are several benefits to going the community college route in addition to the cost-savings. Community colleges often provide more flexible schedules, smaller class sizes and rigorous course work. These qualities and advantages appeal to students who need to balance their studies with commitments such as family and work.
Congratulations to Columbia-Greene Community College, President Carlee Drummer and former president James Campion, who brought the college to this point. A strong place of learning is essential for the growth and respectability of a rural area. Now, more than ever, we need Columbia-Greene Community College and what it offers.