WCJC Named as One of Top Community Colleges in the Nation
Wharton County Junior College has been named one of the nation’s top 150 community colleges by the Aspen Institute College Education Program and is now eligible to compete for a coveted award that includes $1 million in prize funds and student scholarships.
Every two years, the Aspen Institute selects the top community colleges and awards one with the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. The prize recognizes institutions for exceptional student outcomes in four areas: student learning, certificate and degree completion, employment and earnings, and access and success for minority and low-income students.
WCJC was chosen this year to compete for the 2017 Aspen Prize. The winner will be awarded prize funds as well as student scholarships through the Siemens Technical Scholars Program.
Dan Jones, WCJC’s Dean of Planning and Institutional Effectiveness, said WCJC has been eligible to apply for the prize three times in the past six years: 2013, 2015 and now 2017. Although the college has not yet won the prize, Jones said being selected to apply for the award is an amazing honor in and of itself.
“Being selected as one of the top 10 percent of community colleges in the country is a very big honor,” Jones said.
The Aspen Prize selection comes on the heels of WCJC’s recent top ranking by BestColleges.com. Last fall, the on-line organization published a list of the top 25 community colleges in Texas and named WCJC as No. 1.
One of the goals of the Aspen Prize is to improve community college completion rates, which the institute deems “a vital national priority.” According to the institute’s website, community colleges’ “open access and affordability” have helped millions of Americans find more gainful employment opportunities. The institute says there are currently around 13 million students being educated in more than 1,000 community colleges across the country. Of these students, nearly seven million – over forty percent of all those enrolled in postsecondary education – are working towards degrees and certificates.
“Community colleges have tremendous power to change lives, and their success will increasingly define our nation’s economic strength and the potential for social mobility in our country,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. “This competition is designed to spotlight the excellent work being done in the most effective community colleges, those that best help students obtain meaningful, high-quality education and training for competitive-wage jobs after college. We hope it will raise the bar and provide a roadmap to better student outcomes for community colleges nationwide.”
The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington D.C. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute has campuses in Aspen, Colorado and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also maintains offices in New York City and has an international network of partners. For more information on the institute and the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, visit: www.aspenprize.org
WCJC Ranked First in Texas by BestColleges.com
BestColleges.com recently released rankings for Texas community colleges.
The organization published a list of the top 25 community colleges in Texas on its website – www.BestColleges.com – and Wharton County Junior College was listed as No. 1.
WCJC President Betty McCrohan is pleased with the recognition.
“WCJC is doing an admirable job of helping Texas residents continue their education and attain their future goals,” McCrohan said. “I credit the college’s faculty, staff and administration with putting in the time and effort needed to help students achieve their objectives.”
Wharton County Junior College is a Texas public, two-year, comprehensive community college offering a wide range of postsecondary educational programs and services including associate degrees, certificates, continuing education courses, cultural affairs and leisure-time activities for the benefit of the community and a population of students that varies in age, background and ability. WCJC operates campuses in Wharton, Sugar Land, Richmond and Bay City with a student population of around 7,400.