A north Metro community college has been ranked one of the best in the country, and now has the opportunity to win $1 million.
Anoka-Ramsey Community College was one of six community colleges from Minnesota that made the 150-college shortlist for the 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College – and proved to be the best of the bunch.
It's now a finalist in the competition, which is held every two years and "recognizes outstanding institutions" selected from a pool of more than 1,000 community colleges across the country.
The college, in Coon Rapids, will find out in Washington D.C. this coming March whether it has won the $1 million top prize, according to a press release.
How it was judged
Each shortlisted college was judged on its performance in four areas: student learning, certificate and degree completion, employment and earnings, and access and success for minority and low-income students.
After that, each college had to submit an application describing what they've done to improve student success on their campus.
Anoka-Ramsey stood out to The Aspen Institute for the following reasons:
- A three-year graduation/transfer rate of 56 percent.
- Having programs to provide college-going opportunities to students who are the first in their family to go to college, and programs for not just high-achieving students, but also "those in the middle of their class."
- Having the lowest cost tuition and fees of any public or private college in Minnesota.
- Virtually identical – and high – success rates for both white students and students of color, which the Aspen Institute says is "especially notable in a state with one of the largest achievement gaps in the nation."
Aspen spokesman Joshua Wyner said: "We were incredibly impressed by the efforts of Anoka-Ramsey Community College faculty and staff to nourish a deep culture of support for students. That, paired with an unusually strong undergraduate research program and a clear focus on teaching and learning, makes Anoka-Ramsey a uniquely supportive educational environment for Minnesota students."
"Anoka-Ramsey is a unique and special place," Anoka-Ramsey President Kent Hanson added. "It’s our community support system from those who donate to scholarships, to local legislators who support our funding, to business leaders who share insights and advice, and often hire our graduates."