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MTCC in Top 2% of Colleges Nationally

McDowell Technical Community College has been ranked 14th best community college in the United States for 2022 by SmartAssetTM, an online financial technology company which describes itself as having “…the best personal finance advice on the web.” The ranking is based on SmartAsset’s annual study of 801 community colleges throughout the country, a study which looks closely at issues like performance, access and value, areas in which McDowell Tech administrators believe the college naturally excels.

McDowell Tech in top 2% of colleges nationally

It is the third time in recent years that the college has been ranked in the top 20 nationally.

“McDowell Tech is critical to economic mobility for our citizens in McDowell County and western North Carolina,” said Dr. Brian S. Merritt, MTCC President. “SmartAsset’s rankings validate what we already knew, that McDowell Tech and the entire North Carolina Community College System are providing our students and our communities access to high quality education and training that leads to family-sustaining wages and leads to economic vitality for our region and state.”

In reviewing its findings, SmartAsset noted that community colleges in North Carolina and Wisconsin led the nation in the number of highly-ranked colleges, with North Carolina having the most. What makes Merritt and his colleagues at McDowell Tech most proud is that even among the 58 community colleges in North Carolina, a small college like McDowell Tech bested 50 of the state’s 58 colleges in the ranking, with only 7 other NC community colleges ranking higher than McDowell Tech. Overall, 12 North Carolina community colleges made the top 20 list. (

SmartAsset used information from the federal government’s IPEDS (Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System) data system for consistency and lack of bias in its study. Data for the review came from the 2020-2021 school year and included data on student graduation rates, student transfer rates to four-year institutions, student-to-faculty ratios, and cost of tuition and fees.

The North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) is the third largest community college system in the nation behind California and Texas. Ironically, neither of those states, nor New York, which has the fourth largest system, has colleges ranked in the top 20 in this year’s survey.

“We are not at all surprised by our strong showing in the SmartAsset ranking,” said Dr. Penny Cross, Vice-President for Learning and Student Services at McDowell Tech. “McDowell Tech has a strong and supportive faculty who work hard every day to break down barriers to student success and create a positive, nurturing learning environment for our students. As we continue to initiate best practices that lead to student growth and achievement, our students, our community and our state will benefit—and we will likely rise even higher in national rankings.”

For more information about the college’s free tuition offer through the Learn and Grow Scholarship program, visit .

Photo by Abigail Ledford
Ryan Garrison, Interim President; Don Ramsey, Robert Ayers, Judge Corey MacKinnon, Trustees; Gary Stroud, Trustee Board Chair; Judge Ellen Shelley

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