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Law enforcement students in an intensive skills course practiced takedowns on Tuesday afternoon at the Alexandria Technical and Community College. The 10-week summer course is designed for students who already have a college degree but still need to learn skills such as firearms handling, traffic stops and how to handle domestic situations. (Echo Press photo by Lowell Anderson)

ATCC earns national recognition

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Four Minnesota schools were featured in a compilation of the top 50 community colleges in the nation and Alexandria Technical and Community College (ATCC) is among the ranks.

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ATCC placed 24th in a rating conducted by TheBestSchools.org. Saint Paul College, Itasca Community College in Grand Rapids and Normandale Community College in Bloomington are the other three Minnesota colleges on the list.

"For many years ATCC has understood that investment in higher education must have nation-leading outcomes," said ATCC president Kevin Kopischke. "We have been able to produce those results in the identified areas."

Criteria used to select the schools included: completion of an associate degree or transfer to a four-year college, active student engagement in academics, strong rates of employment, student diversity and reasonable tuition costs.

Kopischke said ATCC satisfied the performance outcomes sought by TheBestSchools.org through student retention, graduation and placement rates along with assessment of learning outcomes.

"No doubt we are proud of this and other national rankings ATCC has received over the past years."

Kevin Kopischke, ATCC President

ATCC was recognized for its range of more than 50 study programs, tutoring services, post secondary enrollment options and graduation rate. The college has the highest graduation rate for a two-year public college in Minnesota and a job placement rate exceeding 90 percent.

The law enforcement program at ATCC was specifically noted in TheBestSchools.org rating. Other programs mentioned were farm/ranch management, web/multimedia design, nursing, hospitality administration, fashion management and computer and voice networking.

ATCC has been recognized by CNN Money, listed as the 27th top community college in 2012; the Aspen Institute, listed in the top 10 percent of U.S. community colleges in 2013 and earned eighth place in the Washington Monthly ranking of 100 U.S. community colleges in 2010.

"No doubt we are proud of this and other national rankings ATCC has received over the past years," Kopischke said. "The fact that the Aspen Group, Washington Monthly and CNN Money Magazine have ranked us among the highest performing two-year colleges in the country is a tribute to the work of our faculty and staff."

Kopischke added that the college is achieving high standards despite a 40 percent reduction in state support over the past 12 years for higher education.

According to TheBestSchools.org, the name "community college" came about because the schools primarily serve students from the local area and are supported by local taxes. There are more than 1,132 community colleges in the U.S. The American Association of Community Colleges reported that nearly half of all undergraduates are enrolled in community colleges.

TheBestSchools.org is an independent organization that provides an online resource geared toward helping students find the school that best fits their needs.

COMMUNITY COLLEGE CHECKLIST

TheBestSchools.org offers the following tips to consider in selecting a community college:

Is there an honors program? Check into academic requirements and if you qualify for the program. Acceptance into an honors programs at a community college provides more opportunities and increased chances for graduation and transfers.

Do you plan to transfer to a four-year college or university? Make sure your credits will transfer and ask about any guaranteed transfers and "articulation agreements."

Check completion rates of the academic program you are pursuing. Compare those rates with the college's overall successful completion rate. If there is a notable gap between the two rates, ask why.

Find a campus that fits your needs. Do you prefer a small campus with special counseling or a larger campus with more course options and educational opportunities?

Research the schools you are interested in attending. Compare graduation and transfer rates and rankings.

DeyCrystal Dey Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota's Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter at @CrystalDey_Echo.

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Crystal Dey

Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota’s Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter @Crystal_Dey.

(320) 763-1233
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