Texas community colleges: Awesome schools in the Lone Star State

Texas state sign

Back in 2000, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board noted state residents were lagging behind much of the nation when it came to earning postsecondary credentials. It was in that year that the board launched a 15-year plan to close the gap.

It was the first step in an ongoing effort to make higher education a greater priority in Texas -- a step that relies on shoring up the state's more than 80 two-year institutions and campuses that provide affordable and accessible education to students from all walks of life. Nearly half of Texas higher education enrollment in 2013 was in community colleges, with more than 710,000 students taking classes at these schools.

Texas community colleges include more than 60 schools in public college districts and technical/state colleges. These include institutions within the Texas State University System, the Texas State Technical College System and the Dallas County Community College District.

Although there are many standout colleges in Texas, here are five top choices to consider, in no particular order. A full listing of the state's community colleges, from the National Center for Education Statistics database, can be found at the bottom of this article.

Blinn Community College

With a history dating back to 1883, Blinn says it's the Texas community college with the greatest number of graduates who transfer to leading four-year schools. In 2012, the majority of its transfer students -- nearly 65 percent -- transferred to Texas A&M University.

Overall, more than 18,000 students are enrolled at Blinn Community College's four campuses or through its online education program. The flagship campus in Brenham is the only location to offer on-campus housing and is also the base for the school's athletic, music, theater and agriculture programs. The Bryan campus is home to 12,000 students while the most recent addition to the school is the Sealy campus. The fourth location is in Schulenburg and features a low student-to-faculty ratio.

Blinn Community College offers many degree programs, but its dental hygiene program has made headlines for the Give Kids a Smile program. In 2013, students at the Blinn Dental Hygiene Clinic provided free services to 65 children as part of a community service program that has donated $80,000 in care, equipment and funds since 2009. The program likely played a role in Blinn being named to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

Clarendon College

Another Texas institution with a storied past is Clarendon College. The school was founded by the Methodist Episcopal Church, South in 1898 and is the oldest higher education institution in the Texas panhandle. In 1927, the school was bought by the Clarendon Independent School Board and converted to a non-sectarian junior college.

Today, the college operates a 107-acre campus in Clarendon that serves residents of eight counties. In the fall of 2013, more than 1,200 students were enrolled for classes on its racially diverse campus. Among other extracurricular activities, the Texas community college offers a range of athletic programs ranging from basketball and baseball to activities with a decidedly Texan flavor, such as rodeo and a ranch horse team.

Clarendon College has been recognized by CNN Money for having the greatest success rate among all community colleges in Texas. The site, using data from College Measures, published a community college ranking based on how many students graduate or transfer to a four-year school within three years. With a 64 percent success rate, Clarendon beat out the next closest Texas community college by six points.

Grayson Community College

Offering classes at three locations, Grayson Community College provides a range of educational opportunities. Students can not only earn associate degrees, but they can also enroll in certificate programs and earn marketable skills awards.

Grayson enrolled approximately 5,000 students in 2013. The main campus is located in Denison, and a south campus can be found in Van Alstyne. The west extension is also in Denison, at the Grayson County Airport.

For high achieving students, Grayson operates an Honors College. Courses offered through the college feature small class sizes and encourage close interaction and collaboration between faculty and students. The college notes one of its students, sophomore April Tocci, was one of only 50 students nationwide named a 2014 Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Bronze Scholar.

Navarro Community College

Navarro Community College was created in 1946 by a group of residents who wanted to provide a junior college for students in Navarro County. Of the 238 initial students, most were veterans of World War II who were attending classes under the GI Bill.

Since those humble beginnings, Navarro has expanded to a school serving more than 10,000 students across a five-county district. Current campus locations are in Corsicana, Fairfield, Mexia, Midlothian and Waxahachie. Students have the option to enroll in nearly 50 fields of study and may graduate with either an associate degree or a certificate.

In addition to all the buildings you would typically expect to find at a college, the Corsicana campus has something that sets it apart from other community colleges in Texas: the Cook Center Planetarium. While the planetarium is open to the public and a popular spot for school field trips, it is also used by Navarro Community College students throughout the school year.

Victoria Community College

Established in 1925 in Victoria, this Texas community college has grown to cover more than 40 fields of study. Approximately 4,300 students were enrolled in the school's associate, certificate and distance learning programs in 2013.

Victoria Community College has one main campus plus eight centers and off-campus programs, several of which provide specialized training in areas such as nursing and industrial trades. The college also includes the Leo J. Welder Center for the Performing Arts and is constructing an Emerging Technology Complex. Finally, the college houses the Museum of the Coastal Bend.

After Clarendon College, Victoria had the second highest success rate among community colleges in Texas at 58 percent, as reported by CNN Money. The Victoria College Transfer Student Endowed Scholarship is another way the school distinguishes itself. The scholarship provides money each year to four students transferring to either Texas A&M University or the University of Texas at Austin.

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Texas community colleges list

SCHOOL

ADDRESS

Alvin Community College

3110 Mustang Rd, Alvin, Texas 77511-4898

Amarillo College

2011 S. Washington, Amarillo, Texas 79109

Angelina College

3500 South First, Lufkin, Texas 75902-1768

Austin Community College District

5930 Middle Fiskville Rd, Austin, Texas 78752

Blinn College

902 College Ave, Brenham, Texas 77833-4098

Brazosport College

500 College Dr, Lake Jackson, Texas 77566-3199

Brookhaven College

3939 Valley View Ln, Farmers Branch, Texas 75244-4997

Cedar Valley College

3030 North Dallas Ave, Lancaster, Texas 75134-3799

Central Texas College

6200 West Central Texas Expressway, Killeen, Texas 76549-4199

Cisco College

101 College Heights, Cisco, Texas 76437

Clarendon College

1122 College Drive, Clarendon, Texas 79226

Coastal Bend College

3800 Charco Rd, Beeville, Texas 78102

College of the Mainland

1200 Amburn Road, Texas City, Texas 77591-2499

Collin County Community College District

3452 Spur 399, McKinney, Texas 75069

Del Mar College

101 Baldwin Blvd., Corpus Christi, Texas 78404-3897

Eastfield College

3737 Motley Dr, Mesquite, Texas 75150-2099

El Centro College

801 Main Street, Dallas, Texas 75202-3604

El Paso Community College

9050 Viscount Blvd, El Paso, Texas 79925

Frank Phillips College

1301 W. Roosevelt St., Borger, Texas 79008-5118

Galveston College

4015 Ave Q, Galveston, Texas 77550-7496

Grayson College

6101 Grayson Drive, Denison, Texas 75020-8299

Hill College

112 Lamar Dr, Hillsboro, Texas 76645

Houston Community College

3100 Main Street, Houston, Texas 77002

Howard College

1001 Birdwell Lane, Big Spring, Texas 79720

Kilgore College

1100 Broadway, Kilgore, Texas 75662-3299

Lamar Institute of Technology

855 E Lavaca, Beaumont, Texas 77705

Lamar State College-Orange

410 Front St, Orange, Texas 77630

Lamar State College-Port Arthur

1500 Proctor St, Port Arthur, Texas 77640

Laredo Community College

West End Washington St, Laredo, Texas 78040-4395

Lee College

511 S Whiting, Baytown, Texas 77520

Lone Star College System

5000 Research Forest Drive, The Woodlands, Texas 77381-4399

McLennan Community College

1400 College Dr, Waco, Texas 76708

Midland College

3600 N Garfield, Midland, Texas 79705

Mountain View College

4849 West Illinois Ave., Dallas, Texas 75211-6599

Navarro College

3200 W 7th Avenue, Corsicana, Texas 75110

North Central Texas College

1525 W California Street, Gainesville, Texas 76240-4699

North Lake College

5001 North MacArthur Blvd., Irving, Texas 75038-3899

Northeast Texas Community College

2886 FM 1735, Mount Pleasant, Texas 75455

Northwest Vista College

3535 N. Ellison Drive, San Antonio, Texas 78251

Odessa College

201 W University Blvd, Odessa, Texas 79764

Palo Alto College

1400 W Villaret Blvd, San Antonio, Texas 78224-2499

Panola College

1109 W Panola St, Carthage, Texas 75633-2397

Paris Junior College

2400 Clarksville St, Paris, Texas 75460

Ranger College

1100 College Circle, Ranger, Texas 76470

Richland College

12800 Abrams Rd., Dallas, Texas 75243-2199

San Antonio College

1300 San Pedro Ave, San Antonio, Texas 78212-4299

San Jacinto College-North Campus

5800 Uvalde Rd, Houston, Texas 77049-4599

San Jacinto College-South Campus

13735 Beamer Rd, Houston, Texas 77089-6099

San Jacinto Community College

8060 Spencer Hwy, Pasadena, Texas 77501-2007

South Plains College

1401 S. College Ave, Levelland, Texas 79336

South Texas College

3201 W Pecan, McAllen, Texas 78502-9701

Southwest Collegiate Institute for the Deaf

3200 Ave C, Big Spring, Texas 79720-7298

Southwest Texas Junior College

2401 Garner Field Rd, Uvalde, Texas 78801-6297

St Philip's College

1801 Martin Luther King Dr, San Antonio, Texas 78203-2098

Tarrant County College District

1500 Houston St, Fort Worth, Texas 76102-6524

Temple College

2600 S 1st St, Temple, Texas 76504-7435

Texarkana College

2500 N Robison Rd, Texarkana, Texas 75599

Texas State Technical College-Harlingen

1902 North Loop 499, Harlingen, Texas 78550-3697

Texas State Technical College-Marshall

2650 E End Blvd, South, Marshall, Texas 75672

Texas State Technical College-Waco

3801 Campus Drive, Waco, Texas 76705

Texas State Technical College-West Texas

300 Homer K. Taylor Drive, Sweetwater, Texas 79556

Trinity Valley Community College

100 Cardinal Drive, Athens, Texas 75751

Tyler Junior College

1400 East Fifth Street, Tyler, Texas 75701

Vernon College

4400 College Dr., Vernon, Texas 76384-4092

Victoria College

2200 E Red River, Victoria, Texas 77901

Weatherford College

225 College Park Drive, Weatherford, Texas 76086-5699

Western Texas College

6200 College Ave, Snyder, Texas 79549

Wharton County Junior College

911 Boling Hwy, Wharton, Texas 77488

Past author is Aimee Hosler.

Sources:

Blinn College,
http://www.blinn.edu/

Clarendon College,
http://www.clarendoncollege.edu/

"How does your community college stack up?" CNN Money, 
http://money.cnn.com/pf/college/community-colleges/

Cook Center Planetarium, Navarro College,
http://www.cookplanetarium.us/

Grayson College,
http://www.grayson.edu/

"Blinn Dental Hygiene Students Offer Free Dental Services to Children in Need," KBTX, April 3, 2014,
http://www.kbtx.com/news/local/headlines/Blinn-Dental-Hygiene-Students-Offer-Free-Dental-Services-for-Children-in-Need-253764351.html

Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, National Center for Education Statistics,
http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/

Navarro College,
http://www.navarrocollege.edu/

"Grayson College student wins national honor," North Texas e-News, April 1, 2014,
http://www.ntxe-news.com/artman/publish/article_88869.shtml

Community College Enrollment, Texas Association of Community Colleges,
http://www.tacc.org/pages/data-and-info/community-college-enrollment

2014 Texas Public Higher Education Almanac, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board,
http://www.thecb.state.tx.us/index.cfm?objectId=CE293EED-DD31-BCDE-51EB322FF8B856A8&flushcache=1&showDraft=1

"Scholarships available to VC students transferring to UT at Austin or Texas A&M University," Victoria Advocate, March 29, 2014,
http://www.victoriaadvocate.com/news/2014/mar/29/vc_transfer_scholarship_033014_236092/?features

Victoria College,
http://www.victoriacollege.edu/

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