DMACC Makes “Top 10 Value Community Colleges” out of over 1700 in national ranking

page2Des Moines Area Community College was ranked tenth this year on ValueColleges.com’s annual list of “Top 50 Best Community Colleges.”

The website, supported by the Gates Foundation, looks at 1,717 community colleges across the nation and ranks them based on tuition, graduation and transfer rates, and graduate salaries and accreditation.

When DMACC President Robert Denson first heard the news, he was skeptical. After getting it checked, double-checked and confirmed that the ranking was backed by solid DMACC data, he was thrilled.

According to Value Colleges, DMACC is Iowa’s largest and lowest-priced college. With tuition at $4,170, it beats out colleges like Iowa Central at $4,710, Iowa State at $7,731, and Upper Iowa at $26,834 for lowest price. It’s also got six campuses and four learning centers, more than any other college in Iowa.

When asked about how he works to keep tuition low, Denson hit on the fact that he knows every decision he makes impacts the students.

“We want our classes small and we want the best faculty in the state. We keep a flat administration to make decisions and we don’t charge fees,” Denson said. “We look at everything we’re doing and make sure it’s going to be of value to our students.” He also added, “We also work to make sure that we have book options that are reasonable; books are way too expensive and we want you to have the opportunity to buy used books, online books, whatever, to keep your cost down.”

DMACC has a 96 percent employment and continued education rate for graduates.

The graduation rate at DMACC also compares nicely to other local colleges. While DMACC’s graduation rate is 76 percent, Upper Iowa’s is 41 percent and Iowa Central’s is 34 percent.

According to Value Colleges, DMACC’s “affordable pricing and high success” make it a “clear winner to round out the top 10 Best Value Community Colleges.”

While most people would take being ranked tenth in the nation and stop there, Denson still has plans for improvement. “We know that, number one, we’ve got great faculty who teach in small classes. The two most important boxes are checked off. Third, we want more support, more counselors and academic advisors that are going to work with our students to make sure you never run into a roadblock that we can’t solve. We want to know who you are so that we can help.”

Ranking or no ranking, Denson says he’s “proud of the students and the things they’ve accomplished. As long as the students come here and leave with, essentially, what they want, we’re happy.”

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