Bob Shiles Staff writer
August 29, 2013
LUMBERTON — Robeson Community College has been ranked by Washington Monthly magazine as one of the top 50 community colleges in the country.
RCC, ranked 39th, joins three other North Carolina community colleges on the list. Other North Carolina colleges to be ranked in the top 50 are: Halifax Community College, ranked 12th; Isothermal Community College, ranked 17th; and Mayland Community College, ranked 32nd.
The No. 1-ranked community college was Saint Paul College in Minnesota.
According to Washington Monthly, which has published a listing of its top 50 ranked community colleges three times, it determined its ranking on eight measures, five of which are from the “respected Community College Survey of Student Engagement.” The other three measures, according to the magazine, are used by the Aspen Institute’s annual Prize for Community College Excellence.
Rankings were based on such criteria as active and collaborative learning, student effort, academic challenge, student-faculty interaction, first-year retention rate, three-year graduation/transfer rate and credentials awarded per 100 full-time students.
“Today community colleges remain a pillar of the American system of higher learning with more than a million new freshmen — 42 percent of the total — starting their college careers in a two-year institution every year,” the magazine said. “… These rankings are based entirely on measures of best educational practices and actual student success.
Pamela Hilbert, RCC’s president since March, pointed to RCC’s national ranking as a sign that the college is providing the programs and educational environment that its students need to be successful.
“This is a big accomplishment and reflects that our students have learned the things they need to succeed,” she said.
Hilbert said that RCC uses the Community College Survey of Student Engagement, which was used by Washington Monthly to develop its top community college list, as a measure to determine how well RCC is performing.
“It is really neat to be ranked in the top 50 community colleges in the country because this is a reflection of how our students perceive we (college) have served them and met their needs,” she said.
Charles Chrestman, who was RCC’s president for a decade before retiring earlier this year, called RCC’s inclusion in the top 50 list an “honor everyone should be proud of.”
“There are more than 1,300 community colleges in the United States, so to be ranked by any group in the top 50 in the country is pretty impressive,” he said. “To be recognized this way is great for the college and the community. It speaks well for both the students and the staff.”