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Best Community Colleges in Alaska

If you're ready to make a career change, build up credits for a transfer to one of the bachelor's degree programs at Alaska universities or just spend some time digging deep into the study of your favorite subject, the best community colleges in Alaska are the place to get started. Individual courses, certificate programs and entire degree plans are waiting to help you get where you want to go.

We gathered our data for this list from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), which doesn't count the University of Alaska's affiliated community colleges as independent institutions, so we couldn't factor them into our rankings. Nevertheless, read on to learn about the best Alaska community colleges we do have data on, and find out how they work to help students succeed.

THE TOP COMMUNITY COLLEGES IN ALASKA

1

Alaska Career College (Anchorage)

Alaska Career College is a private, for-profit school in Anchorage that focuses on career-ready degree and certificate programs that can be completed in as little as six months. Students here have close to ten programs of study available, including training in three separate disciplines of business administration.

Although ACC isn't one of the online community colleges that have been popping up around the country recently, students can still take advantage of on-campus flexibility measures. Every degree or certificate available here allows students to take their essential courses in the evenings or on weekends.

ACC's home city of Anchorage is the largest municipality in Alaska, boasting a population of nearly 295,000 residents in 2017. As the northernmost city of its size in the U.S., Anchorage offers significant urban amenities within shouting distance of breathtaking natural beauty.

2

Ilisagvik College (Barrow)

The only public two-year school among our top Alaska community colleges is Ilisagvik College, an institution in Barrow that educates just over 100 students each term. That small student body can be a blessing, however -- the student-faculty ratio here is 4:1, which contends for the closest-knit learning environment in the country.

Originally founded in 1986, Ilisagvik College dedicates itself to strengthening and perpetuating the culture, language, values and traditions of the native Iñupiat culture. Degree and certificate programs here include Allied Health programs, Iñupiaq studies and an Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree designed for university transfer.

The service area of Ilisagvik College is quite large, so the institution offers an array of online courses to serve as many students as possible. Orientation and training for online coursework is available on campus in Barrow, as well as in the villages of the North Slope region.

Resources for Transfer Students in Alaska

Community college education can be a great starting point for a bachelor's degree at one of the top four-year schools in Alaska, especially if you work toward a transfer from the start of your time in school. Here are some steps you can take to ensure that your shift to a university program goes as smoothly as possible:

  • Check to find out if your community college maintains any articulation agreements with universities in Alaska or elsewhere
  • Speak with a registrar or adviser at your destination school and find out if there are any transfer policies in place that you need to know about
  • Work to maintain a grade point average of 2.5 or better; individual universities set their own grade requirements for transfer courses, and aiming for a C or better in each course you take can help you stay ahead of the curve

Also, remember to connect with your community college adviser early on in your associate degree program. Working with them when choosing courses can help you stay on track for a no-hassle transfer.

For more insight into education in the state, read about the best four-year schools in Alaska.

Methodology

We ranked community colleges in Alaska on multiple factors related to educational opportunity, student performance and student services.

Each school was scored on a 10-point scale, using the following data points:

  1. The percentage of students enrolled in distance education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
  2. Cost of attendance, based on the average net price for students receiving scholarship and grant aid, and the total cost of tuition, fees, books and supplies, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
  3. Student-to-faculty ratio, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
  4. The graduation rate in 150% time, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
  5. Flexibility, based on the following data points from the National Center for Education Statistics, 2016

               a. Whether the school offers credit for life experiences
               b. Whether the school offers programs of study that can be completed entirely in the evenings and on weekends
               c. Whether the school offers on-campus day care for students' children
               d. Whether the school offers any kind of alternative tuition plan. These may include, but aren't limited to, payment plans or guaranteed rates.

Article Sources
  • College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, accessed November 28, 2018, https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=AK&ct=1+2+3&ic=2
  • School pages, accessed November 28, 2018: Alaska Career College, https://alaskacareercollege.edu/; Programs, Alaska Career College, https://alaskacareercollege.edu/programs; About Us, Ilisagvik College, https://www.ilisagvik.edu/about-us/; Mission Statement, Ilisagvik College, https://www.ilisagvik.edu/about-us/mission-statement/; Academic Degrees and Certificates, Ilisagvik College, https://www.ilisagvik.edu/academic-degrees-and-certificates/; Distance Education, Ilisagvik College, https://www.ilisagvik.edu/academic-degrees-and-certificates/distance-education/;
  • Anchorage municipality, Alaska, QuickFacts, U.S. Census Bureau, accessed November 28, 2018, https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/anchoragemunicipalityalaska/PST045217
  • Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/