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Best Community Colleges in Louisiana

Published on: December 17, 2019 | by Schools.com Editors

The Louisiana Community and Technical College System (LCTCS) oversees many of the two-year schools in the Pelican State, while several others are offshoots of larger public and private institutions. Knowing what separates the best community colleges in Louisiana from the rest can help you make an informed decision about where to continue your own education.

LCTCS schools graduated more than 32,000 students in 2018-19, with around 45 percent of that number choosing to transfer to universities in Louisiana and elsewhere. Whether you're looking to enroll in an academic associate degree program or learn some valuable job skills in a career and technical education program, check out our list of the ten best community colleges in Louisiana to learn some details about how each one works to help you succeed.

What's more, we've got extra info for students looking to transfer from a Louisiana two-year school to a university. Check near the bottom of the page for useful insight about Louisiana transfer agreements and other options.

THE TOP 10 COMMUNITY COLLEGES IN LOUISIANA

1

South Louisiana Community College (Lafayette)

It may have been established as recently as the late 1990s, but South Louisiana Community College is one of the larger two-year schools in the state. Thanks to a merger with Acadiana Technical College in 2012, the Lafayette-based school welcomes a student body of nearly 6,300 learners each year.

Around 40 academic and career-focused study plans are offered at SLCC, although course offerings may vary from campus to campus. The main location in Lafayette features the widest selection of degrees, with the sites in Opelousas and Abbeville rounding out the top three in terms of variety. The catalog here includes a certificate in medical assisting, a diploma in digital media design and an associate degree in helicopter aviation.

2

Louisiana State University Eunice (Eunice)

Louisiana State University Eunice is the lone two-year school in the LSU system. Approximately 3,200 students per year attend classes at LSUE, with nearly three-quarters of the 2019 student body pursuing associate degrees.

As a comprehensive institution, LSUE offers career-oriented technical programs as well as traditional college majors and Louisiana Transfer associate degrees. Close to 100 different areas are available for transfer students, including business, fine arts, mass communications and criminal justice.

Certificate of Technical Studies programs in subjects like fire service technology and medical billing and coding are available as well. These plans can be completed in 15-36 credit hours and are designed to help students find a quick route to the workforce, but transfer agreements typically still apply to their general education classes.

3

Fletcher Technical Community College (Terrebonne)

Originally established in 1948 as South Louisiana Trade School, Fletcher Technical Community College offers close to 30 degree and certificate programs in five areas of study. Students interested in the fossil fuel industry can enroll in a 63-credit Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree in integrated production technologies that teaches the finer points of production work in petrochemical facilities and on deepwater oil platforms.

Nursing programs at Fletcher have an enviable record of success in training future health care professionals. According to the school's website, 100 percent of 2018 graduates from Fletcher's practical nursing diploma program passed the National Council Licensing Examination (NCLEX-PN) on their first try.

The Terrebonne-based school has an open admissions policy and admits applicants without high school diplomas or equivalents to several of its programs.

4

Delgado Community College (New Orleans)

Given that New Orleans is Louisiana's largest city, it may not surprise you to hear that Delgado Community College has the largest student body among our top community colleges in Louisiana. Roughly 13,500 people enroll in for-credit at Delgado each term. More than two-thirds of students here are female.

Despite that comparatively huge student body, Delgado admins have managed to keep the classroom environment fairly close-knit. The student-faculty ratio here was 18:1 in 2018 — one of the best such figures in the state.

Online education has a substantial presence at Delgado. Associate degrees in criminal justice, business administration, hospitality management and accounting are all available fully online, and a range of certificates can be earned in the virtual classroom as well.

5

Baton Rouge Community College (Baton Rouge)

Baton Rouge Community College could be one of the best Louisiana community colleges for cost-conscious students. This institution of over 8,200 learners charged the state's lowest per-unit tuition in 2018, reporting a bill of $135 for each course credit taken.

Students here can choose from a catalog of degree and certificate programs that includes close to 60 individual study plans. One area where BRCC stands out is in pre-engineering, with concentrations including electrical, chemical, biological and chemical engineering.

BRCC also has some great options for students hoping to study in the virtual classroom. More than a dozen degrees and certificates can be earned entirely online, including programs in entrepreneurship and accounting technology.

6

Bossier Parish Community College (Bossier City)

Nearly 100 individual degree and certificate programs are available at Bossier Parish Community College, in subjects that range from welding to engineering to the music business. Around 50 of those study plans lead to certificates, diplomas or other credentials that typically take less than two years to complete, such as a technical diploma in surgical technology and certificates in energy services, industrial control systems and lighting design.

BPCC is one of the best online community colleges in Louisiana in terms of variety, offering around ten degree and certificate programs via distance education. More than 47 percent of students here take at least some of their classes online, and a total of more than 270 online courses are available in all.

7

Nunez Community College (Chalmette)

The catalog at Nunez Community College contains general as well as technical studies and offers options in over a dozen subject areas. Study plans popular among students here include industrial technology programs, such as the certificate and diploma in industrial maintenance, and nursing programs for practical nurses and nursing assistants.

The Chalmette school has several transfer agreements in place with regional colleges and universities to help students take their studies to the next level. Nunez also partners with local businesses to align technical program goals with industry needs.

Louisiana Transfer degrees available at Nunez include six total concentrations. Associate of Arts (A.A.) students can choose among business, fine arts, social sciences or the humanities, while Associate of Sciences (A.S) students can study physical sciences or biological sciences.

8

Southern University at Shreveport (Shreveport)

Students hoping to get some financial help with their college bills might find what they're looking for at Southern University at Shreveport. Around 88 percent of those enrolled in 2018 received some form of student aid, either from federal and state sources or at the institutional level.

Less than 2,700 students enroll at SUSLA each term, making it one of the smaller two-year schools in Louisiana. The catalog of career-focused programs here includes nearly 30 study options, including associate degrees in health information technology, event management and respiratory therapy.

Students seeking certificates in IT and computer science fields have a range of plans to choose from as well. Programs in computer information systems, computer network technology and Web development can all be earned in less than a year of full-time study.

9

SOWELA Technical Community College (Lake Charles)

Student success is one of the more significant metrics of our analysis, and SOWELA Technical Community College was one of the statewide standouts in that category. Just one other institution in the state reported a higher percentage of first-year students returning to continue their studies during year two, and no other two-year school in Louisiana had a higher graduation rate in 2018.

SOWELA operates three campuses and learning centers in its five-parish service area — the main campus in Lake Charles and satellite locations in Jennings and Oakdale. Most study plans can be accessed through the main campus, and business administration and culinary arts students can earn their credentials online. Programs in fields like forest management and industrial instrumentation technology feature classes offered at the satellite sites.

10

River Parishes Community College (Gonzales)

River Parishes Community College has offered academic and career-oriented degree and certificate plans to the citizens of Ascension Parish since 1997. Students here can choose from the full range of Louisiana Transfer degree tracks, including major-specific programs in business, the humanities, teaching and social science and a general studies degree that aims to provide a solid foundation of general education courses that transfer easily to Louisiana universities.

Plenty of occupational programs are available here as well. Career-focused students can pursue an A.A.S. degree in drafting and design technology, a certificate in basic electrical wiring and programs in welding or air conditioning and refrigeration technology that provide up to three different levels of credential depending on how deep into your studies you choose to go.

CTE in Louisiana

Career technical education (CTE) is an approach to education that aims to provide students with workforce-ready training as well as laying a foundation for more advanced academic work in the future. High school students who attend CTE programs in Louisiana tend to graduate at a higher rate than the general population — 92 percent of CTE students graduate each year, compared with an overall statewide average of 78 percent.

College students who choose CTE degrees, diplomas or certificates have some encouraging success statistics as well. Nearly 75 percent of college CTE students in Louisiana ended up landing a job, entering an apprenticeship or beginning military service within six months of graduating.

Here are a few resources to check out if you're considering CTE in Louisiana:

Eight of our ten best Louisiana community colleges are members of the LCTCS, and you're likely to find some form of CTE opportunity at all ten institutions listed above. Get together with an adviser, a registrar or a CTE-specific faculty member at your chosen school to learn more.

Transferring Credits in Louisiana

Anyone interested in transferring to Louisiana universities after finishing their lower-division coursework at a community college should look into the Louisiana Transfer Associate Degree as early as possible in their college journey. Two types of transfer degree are available — an Associate of Arts (AALT) and an Associate of Science (ASLT) — and the program features eight pre-built concentration templates for aspiring bachelor's degree students:

  • Biological sciences
  • Criminal justice
  • Fine arts
  • General business
  • Humanities
  • Mass communication
  • Physical sciences
  • Social/behavioral sciences

Even with those templates, it's understood as each individual student's responsibility to select a schedule of courses that prepares them adequately for their intended university major. If you're planning a transfer, it can help a lot to communicate with your adviser throughout your degree plan and make sure you're staying on the right path.

If you're not interested in any of those eight subject concentrations, check and see if your college has transfer agreements with local four-year schools. Subjects such as computer science and engineering may be more accessible through such institution-to-institution plans. Read about the top four-year colleges in Louisiana for additional insight into education in the state.

We've also got a handy college transfer guide that can help you better understand transfer agreements and answer some frequently asked questions about the process. Check it out for more info.

Resources for Community College Students in Louisiana

Methodology

Using the National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), we generated a list of colleges and universities that met the following criteria:

  • Level of institution is either "At least 2 but less than 4 years" or " Less than 2 years (below associate)"
  • Data is reported for all 14 ranking variables listed in the Methodology section

We ranked the resulting community colleges member schools 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 published in-district tuition and fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2018
  2. The published in-state tuition and fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2018
  3. The in-district per credit hour charge for part-time undergraduates, National Center for Education Statistics, 2018
  4. The in-state per credit hour charge for part-time undergraduates, National Center for Education Statistics, 2018
  5. Percentage of students receiving financial aid, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
  6. Percent of students that transferred to a 4-year institution and completed within 8 years, College Scorecard, 2017
  7. The graduation rate in 150% time, National Center for Education Statistics, 2017
  8. Full-time student retention rate, National Center for Education Statistics, Fall 2017
  9. Student-to-faculty ratio, National Center for Education Statistics, Fall 2017
  10. Percentage of students enrolled in distance education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2017
  11. Flexibility, based on the following data points from the National Center for Education Statistics, 2018
    • Whether the school offers credit for life experiences
    • Whether the school offers programs of study that can be completed entirely in the evenings and on weekends
    • Whether the school offers on-campus day care for students’ children
    • Whether the school offers any kind of alternative tuition plan. These may include, but aren’t limited to, payment plans or guaranteed rates.
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