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Best Community Colleges in Georgia

Community college programs in Georgia can help you advance in your career, get trained up for a job in a new industry or work toward your bachelor's degree at a discount.

Georgia has two separate community college systems, the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) and the University System of Georgia (USG). Of the two, the TCSG contains schools that focus on graduating students with technical, business and industry training, while USG schools concentrate their efforts on preparing students to transfer to four-year university programs.

Whether you're looking to train for a career, work on a two-year degree or knock out some prerequisites before you transfer to a bachelor's program at one of the top four-year schools in Georgia, we've ranked the institutions that can help you do it. Read on below to find out which schools are the best Georgia community colleges, according to our analysis of National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) data.

THE TOP 10 COMMUNITY COLLEGES IN GEORGIA

1

Albany Technical College (Albany)

Albany Technical College has a history that stretches back to 1961, when 175 students enrolled in Monroe Area Vocational-Technical School. The current main campus was established around 10 years later and it became a comprehensive two-year institution before the year 2000.

Albany Tech operates adult learning centers in all seven of the counties in its service area, including its flagship campus in Albany. More than 3,000 full-time students enroll in degree and certificate programs each quarter, and roughly 2,500 more either attend classes part time or come for non-credit seminars, continuing education and business training.

Programs here focus on job-ready training in five subject areas: construction, early childhood education, healthcare technology, public safety and technology, business & personal services. It also stakes a claim among the best online community colleges in Georgia, offering around 10 distance education programs.

2

Atlanta Technical College (Atlanta)

Total enrollment at Atlanta Technical College was just over 4,000 students in 2017, with part-time learners making up close to two-thirds of the student body. All age groups were represented in that 2017 sample, with traditionally college-age students -- those under the age of 25 -- making up around 42 percent of enrolled students.

The degree catalog at ATC includes programs that lead to an associate degree, a diploma or a technical certificate. More than 150 such programs are available for students to choose from, with certain subjects, such as marketing and cybersecurity, being offered in multiple different types of study plan.

ATC also provides degrees and certificates that can be earned entirely through online courses. Fully online programs here include accounting, business management, marketing management, paralegal studies and more.

3

Georgia Northwestern Technical College (Rome)

Georgia Northwestern Technical College operates six campuses throughout the northwestern area of the state. While the main administrative campus is located in Rome, students near Ringgold, Calhoun, Rockmart, Rock Spring and Dalton all have a satellite location of GNTC nearby.

The full selection of degree and certificate programs available at GNTC numbers more than 200, although certain programs may only be available on select campuses. The roughly half a dozen programs in aviation maintenance, for example, are likely to only be open to students who can attend the institution's Aviation Training Center.

GNTC stands tall among the top online community colleges in Georgia, offering a wide range of programs that can be completed with 100 percent online courses. Distance education students can pursue around 40 diplomas, certificates and Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degrees in the virtual classroom.

4

Southern Regional Technical College (Thomasville)

The cost of tuition and fees at Southern Regional Technical College may be attractive for students looking to be frugal as they work toward a four-year degree. A 24-credit year of courses at this Thomasville institution came to just over $2,700 in 2017 -- an amount more than $1,000 more affordable than the statewide average for two-year colleges.

Nearly 3,900 students attended classes here in 2017, and SRTC has multiple initiatives in place to help them find a path to success. One such advantage comes from the Student Success Centers, where students can go for personalized one-on-one tutoring and other study aids, available on campus at the Thomasville, Moultrie and Tifton locations.

Students have more than 150 academic and career-focused programs to choose from at SRTC. The school has four academic divisions: business, health sciences, industrial technology, and professional services.

5

Oconee Fall Line Technical College (Sandersville)

Despite having an 11-county service area, Oconee Fall Line Technical College is one of the closer-knit institutions among the top Georgia community colleges. This central Georgia institution had a student body of fewer than 1,500 learners in 2017, and the 9:1 student-faculty ratio was around 44 percent better than the national university average.

OFTC maintains two campuses in its home area, the main location in Sandersville and a second one down the road in Dublin. Over 100 degree and certificate programs are available here, including more than 70 technical certificates that typically require 24 or fewer credit hours to complete.

What's more, certain students can get additional guidance through college from OFTC's Special Populations Program. Single parents, individuals with disabilities, displaced homemakers, economically disadvantaged individuals and students with limited English proficiency are among the "Special Pops" this program serves.

6

Georgia Piedmont Technical College (Clarkston)

Around 40 different technical degree and certificate programs can be earned through the five academic departments at Georgia Piedmont Technical College. Subjects of study for diploma or certificate seekers include health care, media studies, business, computers and early childhood education.

Georgia Piedmont Tech may also be one of the best community colleges in Georgia for students hoping to shift their credits into a bachelor's degree program after graduating. The Clarkston school has nearly 30 transfer agreements in place with universities in Georgia and elsewhere, including Robert Gordon University in Scotland.

The city of Clarkston has a population of less than 13,000 residents, according to the U.S. Census, but it's on the edge of the Atlanta metropolitan area. Students can stay in town to study in peace or head into the city for recreation, shopping and nightlife.

7

Ogeechee Technical College (Statesboro)

Ogeechee Technical College is a relatively small institution, reporting enrollment of fewer than 2,000 students in 2017. A low student population can have its upsides, however -- the student-faculty ratio here is 13:1, so professors should have plenty of time to provide individual help to students who need it.

The opportunities for study help don't end there, either. Students at OTC have access to a campus service called Smarthinking, which provides online chat-based tutoring sessions, online writing lab counseling and offline question submission for tricky homework assignments.

Statesboro, where OTC is located, is a city with a long history and extra upside for students. It was founded less than 30 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed, and the presence of Georgia Southern University within the city limits means that there should be plenty of student-focused activity in town.

8

Southeastern Technical College (Vidalia)

Founded in 1990, Southeastern Technical College has grown considerably since admitting its first class of just 46 students. Thanks to development efforts and a 2008 merger with another nearby technical college, the east-central Georgia school serves over 1,700 students each semester on its campuses in Vidalia and Swainsboro.

There are nearly 100 pathways to an associate degree, diploma or technical certificate at Southeastern Tech. The catalog includes a medical assisting diploma, several options in diesel service technology and both diploma and certificate programs in fish and wildlife management.

Southeastern Tech is also one of the best online community colleges in Georgia, at least in terms of program variety. Distance education students here can choose among roughly 30 online programs. Associate degrees and diplomas tend to take 50-60 credits, while technical certificates often require 24 credit hours or less to complete.

9

Lanier Technical College (Gainesville)

Lanier Technical College has one of the more robust academic catalogs among our top Georgia community colleges, offering around 180 total programs to students in the north Georgia area. The largest portion of the study plans in the catalog lead to certificates, but numerous degree and diploma programs are available as well.

The area north of Atlanta and south of the Chattahoochee National Forest is dotted with LTC campuses, so make sure that the program you're looking for is available at the location you're planning to attend. The flagship Oakwood campus relocated to Gainesville in 2018, and other locations can be found in Dawsonville, Cumming, Winder and Commerce.

LTC also offers a formidable array of programs available through online courses. More than 20 subjects of study can be covered in the virtual classroom, including six programs for fire service personnel.

10

Savannah Technical College (Savannah)

Just shy of 4,000 students attended classes at Savannah Technical College in 2017, giving it the comfortable feel of a mid-sized school. You won't be driven to distraction by hordes of strangers bumping into you in the halls, but you'll still have plenty of fellow students sharing your experience.

STC operates four civilian campus locations and the Fort Stewart Army Education Center. Two of those civilian locations, the Savannah Campus and the Crossroads campus, are located in its namesake seaside city of Savannah. The others can be found in nearby Hinesville and Rincon.

Georgia's profile in the U.S. film industry is on the rise, and STC has taken notice with a specialized program designed to help locals find their niche in showbusiness. The Georgia Film Academy at STC offers a two-semester program that leads to a technical certificate.

Resources for Transfer Students in Georgia

There are a couple of ways to transfer your community college credits into bachelor's degree programs at Georgia universities. The standard method -- applying for an audited credit-by-credit transfer from your destination school -- can certainly work, but seeking out articulation agreements between schools at each level is a more stable and generally smoother path to a successful transfer.

Articulation agreements are typically struck between individual Georgia institutions, but there are some system-wide agreements in place as well. University System of Georgia (USG) agreements tend to list in-state universities as their destination schools, while agreements available from Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) schools have a wider range of options for students looking to go out of state for their bachelor's degree.

Both systems also adhere to a slate of transfer equivalencies that can make it somewhat easier to transfer your general education credits to another institution accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Remember to consult with an advisor to discuss your options and work out a transfer method that works best for you.

For additional insight into education in the state, explore the top four-year schools in Georgia.

Methodology

We ranked community colleges in Georgia 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
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