HARTFORD — At a time when education problems are daunting, officials celebrated a study Tuesday that ranks Connecticut’s community colleges as the best in the nation.

Top educators gathered at Capital Community College in Hartford to hail the number one ranking as Connecticut pulled in front of Maryland, New Mexico, Washington, and Hawaii in the top five. California ranked 17th, while New York, New Hampshire, and Maine were numbers 19, 20, and 21.

“Our calling card as a state is the best-trained, most productive workforce in the world,’’ Gov. Ned Lamont told the crowd. “Other guys have oil and gas. Silicon. Sunshine down in Florida. We earn it every day with the quality of the folks we have working in this state.’’

The excellence, he said, comes at all ages.

“We have the top-ranked, K through 12 system in the country — second behind Massachusetts,’’ Lamont said. “Watch out Massachusetts, here we come. And the number one ranked community college. This is a pipeline to get into the workforce with the skills that they need.’’

In addition, the deadline to apply for free tuition has been extended through PACT, the state’s free community college program. Students should enroll before classes start on Aug. 29.

Terrence Cheng, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system, said the PACT program has expanded sharply to 8,602 students at the moment. That represents a jump from 4,452 students in the spring. Part-time students who are taking at least six credits are now eligible for the PACT program for the first time in the current fiscal year.

Overall enrollment in the entire system so far, Cheng said, is “a bit better than last fall.’’

Enrollment peaked in 2010, and has been on the decline since then, he said. Both nationally and in Connecticut, some students are under pressure to get a job instead of enrolling in community college.

“COVID certainly exacerbated the situation,’’ Cheng said Tuesday.

John Maduko, president of the community college system, said that open enrollment attracts a wide variety of students.

“We don’t choose our students,’’ Maduko said. “Our students choose us.’’

In addition, he said, “Connecticut’s community colleges not only provide quality, affordable education, but we open doors to new opportunities and help break cycles of poverty and stagnant careers.”

The community college analysis by WalletHub involved 677 colleges with multiple metrics in all 50 states under several broad categories that included education outcomes, career outcomes, and overall costs and financing.

The details are at: wallethub.com/edu/e/states-with-best-worst-community-college-systems/15073.

Christopher Keating can be reached at [email protected].

By Christopher Keating
Hartford Courant

Aug 23, 2022 at 4:26 pm

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