Community College Week ranks college in leading associate degree producers in nation
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College has again been named among the top associate degree producers in the nation, with more than 1,795 students receiving degrees in 2012. This is the 10th year since 2002 that MGCCC has been named in the top 100, and it is the only community college in the states of Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee to make the overall top-100 list, a singular designation the college has received eight times.
Community College Week, an educational magazine, ranked the college at No. 78 in the nation overall. The ranking is based on the number of degrees awarded to students from the country’s 1,300 community colleges. The college was also named sixth in associate degrees for education majors, 49th in associate degrees for African-American students, 20th in associate degrees for family and consumer sciences/human sciences majors and 67th in total non-minority graduates.
“Ranking so highly in producing graduates is a significant accomplishment for the college,” said Dr. Mary S. Graham, MGCCC president. “It is a testament to our dedication to instructional excellence and student success, and it exemplifies our commitment to making MGCCC a globally competitive learning community.”
Other Mississippi community colleges ranked in rolls compiled by Community College Week; however, MGCCC was the only community college in the state to make the overall top 100. Those lists included two-year certificate program completers, number of African-American associate degree earners and breakout lists by majors.
Earlier this month, MGCCC was ranked in the top 50 best community colleges in the nation out of more than 1,100 other community colleges. TheBestSchools.org, selected the 50 best community colleges in the United States based on several studies, ratings, reputations and reviews of other notable community colleges. MGCCC, one of only two colleges in Mississippi to make the top-50 list, was ranked 45th this year.
In 2012, The Chronicle of Higher Education named MGCCC a Great College to Work For, making it the only community college in Mississippi chosen for the award. MGCCC also made that list in 2010. In 2011, MGCCC was a top 10 finalist for the Aspen Prize in the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program.
Andrea Weaver, a recent MGCCC graduate who moved to Biloxi “by luck” from Houston, Texas, said she understands why the college wins these honors. Weaver, who will be attending Mississippi State University in the fall to major in engineering, said she was shy before starting at MGCCC. “I never thought I would go to college, and when I finally did, my instructors at the Jefferson Davis Campus introduced me to Phi Theta Kappa. I took a leadership role in that organization, and it has made all the difference in my attitude. Now, I’m more outgoing and willing to take risks. MGCCC has made a huge difference in my life and in the lives of many other students because the people here are always looking for ways to help you get ahead and to support you.” Weaver was named a 2013 Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Silver Scholar, one of only 50 chosen nationally.
Chris Marshall, a Gautier resident and a graduate of the college’s Jackson County Campus, , credits MGCCC with helping him change the direction he was heading in life. “I really wasn’t heading anywhere fast and needed to re-evaluate what I was doing,” he said. “I knew I needed to go to college but was afraid I wasn’t going to do well. From the moment I walked in the door at the Jackson County Campus, people helped me, and I discovered that I really loved learning. MGCCC started me toward a future that is much brighter now than it was two years ago.” Marshall was selected as a member of the 2013 All-USA Community College Academic Team, one of only 20 students from more than 1,800 nominations selected for this prestigious honor. He was the top scorer from Mississippi, making him the New Century Scholar for the state.
The selection as a Top 100 school follows on the heels of MGCCC’s announcement that there would be no increase in tuition rates for the second year in a row. Graham said the college has been fortunate because state appropriations, enrollment and county millage have remained consistent. “Combined with several cost-saving measures the college has instituted, along with steady enrollment, the college is in a positive financial position,” she said. “Our students are always our primary concern, so when we can pass the benefits on to them, we are pleased. Like any business, we have a product, and our product is our students. We are always proud of their successes, and we want to do everything we can to give them the opportunities they need to get there.”