What Are the Best Online Community Colleges?

By Roxy FavrettoLast Updated Jun 24, 2020 7:18:41 PM ET
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Photo Courtesy: Chichi Onyekanne/Unsplash

Earning an education doesn’t have to mean moving far away or taking on massive amounts of debt. With the help of an online community college, you can start working towards a degree, earn a certification or just take a class that interests you. Community colleges often offer two-year degrees and trade or vocation programs that can be the first or only step in your educational journey. They're affordable and convenient, and because they often have relationships with employers in the area, they can help you find a job.

However, you don’t want to apply to just any online college; you need to be sure you’re choosing one with a solid reputation that will teach you the skills you need to thrive in your future career. These colleges have a history of excellence both in the classroom and online.

Southern Regional Technical College

Based in Thomasville, Georgia since 1947, Southern Regional Technical College is at the top of Bestcolleges.com's most highly rated online community colleges list. From accounting to technical management, the school offers dozens of programs of study, all of which can lead to a diploma, certification or degree. Applicants who don't already have an associate degree or higher must complete a state-approved assessment test, such as state-approved assessment, such as the ACT. Students who take classes online have access to features such as a virtual career planning stimulator, tuition assistance for nontraditional students and career counseling services.

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Photo Courtesy: @SRTCedu/Twitter

Lanier Technical College

Also based in Georgia, Lanier Technical College has been serving students within the state and beyond since 1964. Each of its programs focus on helping students find a career after graduation, and there are over 50 areas of online study, including criminal justice, emergency management, early childhood care and education, accounting and fire science. Associate degrees typically take five to six semesters to earn, while a bachelor’s can take up to four. The college offers academic advising via phone for students who take classes online. Some classes require students to participate in virtual discussions and testing at specific appointment times.

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Photo Courtesy: @LanierTech/Twitter

Coastal Pines Technical College

Coastal Pines Technical College is based in Waycross, Georgia and has various campuses throughout the state. It was formed in 2014 when two community colleges merged, resulting in a top-rated community college that offers online learning. The school offers over 130 diplomas, degrees, certifications and more. Seven of those programs are offered 100 percent online, including accounting, business technology, criminal justice, early childhood care and education, general business, general studies and marketing management. Each course takes about 15 hours per week, and students must make sure their computers meet certain hardware and software requirements. Students also have access to career services and counseling when they take classes online.

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Photo Courtesy: @coastalpinestc/Twitter

Southwest Mississippi Community College

Southwest Mississippi Community College's goal is to promote economic development in the Summit, MS, area and beyond by providing workforce training. While the main campus is located on 60 tree-filled acres, many students around the country opt to take advantage of its online programs. Those who have access to services like a virtual library, academic advising and tutoring. Southwest Mississippi Community College is also considered the best overall community college in the state of Mississippi, according to Niche.

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Photo Courtesy: @msstate/Twitter

Rappahannock Community College

Established in 1970, Rappahannock Community College is based in Virginia. You can earn a certificate or degree via the school's distance learning program in fields like the arts and sciences, psychology and social work, criminal justice, business administration and medical care. Some of these degrees set students up to transfer to one of the school's partner universities to earn an additional bachelor’s degree. While courses can be completed online, all students are required to attend an orientation in person.

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Photo Courtesy: @rappahannock_cc/Twitter