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MTCC One of Top 20 Community Colleges in the Nation

McDowell Technical Community College has been ranked 18th best community college in the United States for 2023 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 845 community colleges located throughout the country. Although several North Carolina community college’s made this year’s list, McDowell Tech is the only college west of Durham to place in the top 20.

It is the fourth time in recent years that the college has been ranked in the top 20 nationally. In 2023, it was ranked 16th in the nation, 17th in 2020 and 6th the year before that. Given the number of community colleges in the study, that puts McDowell Tech solidly in the top 2% of all community colleges in the nation.

“We often brag about having the best faculty and staff anywhere around,” said Ryan Garrison, Interim President at McDowell Tech. “Our consistently high ranking in annual SmartAsset studies is credible evidence that we are providing our students and our community access to high quality, affordable education. We are a gem among community colleges, and the smart money is on a student who gives us a chance to make a difference in their life.”

Aerial view of McDowell Tech Community College Main Campus in Marion NC
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According to SmartAsset’s findings, North Carolina community colleges in general are an exceptional value in the higher education marketplace, owing largely to high priority the North Carolina Legislature and State Board of Community Colleges have placed on maintaining low tuition rates to make workforce training and higher education affordable for all of the state’s residents. Value and affordability are key factors in SmartAsset’s rankings, which explains why 9 of the top 20 colleges in 2023 call North Carolina home.

The North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) is the third largest community college system in the nation behind California and Texas.

California is the only state in the nation with more affordable colleges than North Carolina, with California claiming 99 of the top 100 spots on the affordability criteria this year, with average annual tuition in California ranging from $1,104 to $1562. Nationwide, average community college tuition is $4,590 and many North Carolina colleges are over $2,000 per year. Despite having more affordable colleges, however, only 7 of the top 25 colleges in the survey were from California.

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 2021-2022 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.

“We offer an exceptional value in higher education and workforce training,” said Garrison, the Interim MTCC President. “Even when stacked against our own peers in North Carolina—where we know tuition is less expensive—McDowell Tech beat out 51 of 58 community colleges because of our academic excellence and workforce preparedness. We do everything we can to help any student who walks through our doors become successful on whatever path they choose for themselves. That is our mission every day, and I am proud of every one of our folks who are making success happen, year-after-year.”

Julie Padgett Buchanan

Keeping the Faith

A sweet and loving child of God returned to her heavenly father in the still and quiet of a bitterly-cold January morning earlier this week. Julie Buchanan, better known to most of her McDowell Tech family as Julie Padgett, ended her battle with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, on Wednesday, just a little more than 21 months after she was officially diagnosed with the disease.

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