Press-Republican

September 6, 2013

CCC, SUNY Plattsburgh rank among top colleges

By ASHLEIGH LIVINGSTON
Press-Republican

PLATTSBURGH — Clinton Community College and SUNY Plattsburgh have been named top colleges by Washington Monthly magazine.

CCC landed on the Washington, D.C., publication’s 2013 list of the top 50 community colleges in the nation, and SUNY Plattsburgh is among the top 30 colleges in the country to offer students the best bang for their buck.

EIGHT CRITERIA

Ranked at No. 49, Clinton Community is the only school in New York state to make the list of top community colleges.

“It’s important because it recognizes Clinton Community College for being outstanding at its core (and) outstanding in our academic mission,” CCC President John Jablonski said during a press conference at the school on Thursday.

Washington Monthly, he noted, is regarded as one of the most credible magazines and generated its rankings based on data collected from the Community College Survey of Student Engagement and the National Center for Education Statistics at the U.S. Department of Education.

The data was used to evaluate community colleges on eight criteria: active and collaborative learning, student effort, academic challenge, student-faculty interaction, support for learning, first-year retention rate, three-year-graduation-transfer rate and credits awarded per the equivalent of 100 full-time students.

‘VERY GRATIFYING’

“We’re not being honored because we have really big parking lots or we’re the best party school,” CCC Faculty Council President Vicky Sloan said.

The college’s faculty and staff, she added, strive to challenge, support and interact with students, as well as foster creative, active and collaborative learning experiences.

“Recent research tells us that students who interact often with faculty, students who are supported in their academic work, and especially students who are intellectually challenged, stay in college longer and graduate at higher rates,” she said. 

“Because the faculty and the professional support staff take this work very seriously, it’s not really surprising that Clinton has risen to the top, but it’s very gratifying to be recognized and honored for what we do every day at Clinton.”

Receiving national acclaim, Jablonski told the Press-Republican after the conference, underscores what the school’s community has known all along — that CCC offers a top-notch academic program.

“Anybody that was standing on the sidelines and unsure of that, I hope now will be convinced,” he said.

‘A GREAT DEAL’

At the same news conference, SUNY Plattsburgh President Dr. John Ettling announced that his institution has ranked 30th out of the 349 colleges and universities in the nation to make the publication’s “Best Bang for the Buck” list, which recognizes schools that help non-wealthy students attain marketable degrees at affordable prices.

To generate the rankings, institutions were evaluated based on four criteria, including the number of students receiving Pell grants, graduation rate, the percentage of students who default on their loans and the net price of education.

Ettling noted that while several other SUNY schools also made the list, none ranked higher than SUNY Plattsburgh.

“SUNY is a great deal,” he said after the news conference. “I think probably the reason that we’re there ahead of those other schools may be because we have a higher percentage of medium- and low-income students in our mix.”

‘DIFFERENT MISSION’

The college was also ranked 10th on Washington Monthly’s 2013 “The Best Bang for the Buck” Master’s Universities list.

It’s an unfortunate fact of American higher education, Ettling told conference attendees, that one of the most significant variables that predicts success in college is family income.

However, he continued, it’s gratifying to know that in Clinton County, courage, ambition, energy and dedication can still get people where they want to be.

“Kids from prosperous backgrounds have a range of choices,” Ettling said. “The schools they decide to go to should be grateful they’re there, stand back and just not mess them up or, at best, help them understand the difference between hitting a triple and being born on third base. 

“But at schools like Clinton and Plattsburgh, our mission is different.”

Though the missions of CCC and SUNY Plattsburgh are also completely different from one another, he said, they complement each other well.

“The people who live in the North Country have, literally, at their doorstep, one of the best deals in American higher education,” Ettling said.

Email Ashleigh Livingston:alivingston@pressrepublican.com