Best Community Colleges in Missouri
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For many, community colleges are an appealing and accessible path to higher education. About 4.5 million students enrolled in public community colleges in spring 2021, according to estimates compiled by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.
These students pursued associate and technical degrees, either to help them jump-start their careers or transfer to a four-year school. Many students chose to enroll in online community colleges as well.
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In Missouri, attending community college can prepare students to enter fast-growing industries in the state, including healthcare and professional services. If you're interested in earning an associate degree in the Show-Me State, you can learn about the best community colleges in Missouri with this guide.
Why Study in Missouri?
Missouri is home to several community colleges in both major and smaller cities, making education accessible to many. The A+ Program offers scholarships to community college students who excelled in Missouri high schools.
Additionally, associate degree graduates can transfer their credits to one of Missouri's four-year colleges. Missouri's public universities include the University of Missouri system, Missouri State University, and the Missouri University of Science and Technology, among many others. Students can also transfer to highly ranked private schools, like Washington University in St. Louis.
Although U.S. News & World Report ranks Missouri in the middle of the 50 states for its economy —it ranks 23rd overall — Missouri excels in some specific areas. For instance, it ranks fourth in opportunity, or the ability for upward mobility. U.S. News & World Report also ranks Missouri as the 11th best state for businesses and the 15th best state for fiscal stability.
Cost of Living
The cost of living in Missouri remains relatively low, making it a great state for people who are more money conscious. U.S. News & World Report ranks Missouri as the fifth most affordable state, considering both housing costs and day to day expenses.
Like any state, certain areas come with a higher price tag for daily expenses than others. Larger cities like St. Louis or Kansas City may prove more expensive than smaller cities, towns, or rural areas.
Cultural and Community Offerings
Students can find cultural and community offerings in many of Missouri's cities and towns. Kansas City is known for the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the jazz scene at 18th and Vine, and a thriving local music culture. St. Louis also offers several museums, the Gateway Arch, and one of the best-ranked zoos in the country. Plus, students can blow off steam at Mardi Gras and St. Patrick's Day celebrations in the city.
You can find plenty of culture in smaller cities too — you can find live theater in Springfield, and Columbia hosts the Roots N Blues music festival and the True/False documentary film festival.
If you enjoy all four seasons, Missouri could be a good fit. With a humid continental climate, Missouri's summers tend to be hot and its winters can seem cold. At the same time, temperatures and weather can change day to day without much warning — it's not uncommon to find yourself freezing on a day in February, and then enjoying 60 degrees and sunshine a few days later. Missouri also frequently sees tornados in late spring.
Top Degree Programs in Missouri
Missouri Employment Outlook
About three million people work in Missouri's labor force, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These individuals work in some of the state's biggest industries, including food processing, chemicals, printing/publishing, electrical equipment, aerospace, and beer.
The Missouri state government lists the three industries with the highest levels of employment growth as healthcare, professional services, and construction. So it comes as no surprise that some of Missouri's top employers are major healthcare organizations, such as the Mercy Healthcare System, BJC HealthCare, SSM Health, and St. Luke's Hospital System.
With that in mind, you can find five jobs projected to see growth over the next decade in Missouri listed below.
4 Missouri Jobs in Demand for 2022
Radiologic and MRI Technologists
Annual Median Salary: $63,710
Job Outlook: 12.5% growth from 2018 to 2028
The healthcare industry comes with several job opportunities. Radiologic and MRI technicians carry out x-rays and other diagnostic imaging procedures on patients. They operate complex machinery and make sure patients remain safe in the meantime. These professionals need an associate degree in the field.
Medical Administrative Assistants
Annual Median Salary: $37,350
Job Outlook: 19.8% growth from 2018 to 2028
Another in-demand occupation in the healthcare field, medical administrative assistants take care of the important documentation when it comes to patients. They send patients bills, schedule appointments, and handle medical records. Their jobs are secretarial in nature, but they need specialized medical and healthcare knowledge that they learn while studying for an associate degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Annual Median Salary: $52,920
Job Outlook: 14.7% growth from 2018 to 2028
Paralegals and legal assistants take on many tasks to support lawyers. They carry out legal research, collect facts for cases, write drafts of documents, write summaries of cases for lawyers, and keep everything organized. This role requires good communication, organizational skills, and research skills. To qualify for this job, individuals usually need an associate degree in paralegal studies.
Annual Median Salary: $75,330
Job Outlook: 16.2% growth from 2018 to 2028
Nursing is a growing industry across the U.S., including Missouri. Registered nurses (RNs) play vital roles in the healthcare industry, providing patient care in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. RNs can obtain licensure with either an associate or bachelor's degree. Some nurses with associate degrees go on to continue their education to become a nurse leader or nurse practitioner.
Popular Career Paths in Missouri
Best Accredited Community Colleges in Missouri
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Frequently Asked Questions About Community Colleges in Missouri
Are community colleges worth it?
For many people, community colleges are worth it. They allow students to earn an associate degree with a relatively inexpensive tuition price tag, especially in comparison to four-year colleges and universities. In fact, if affordability appeals to you, then you can find the most low-cost online community colleges with this guide.
Community college also helps students pursue their goals, whether that involves going straight into the workforce after two years of college or setting up the educational foundation for a four-year degree. Many people transfer to four-year colleges and universities after graduating from community college, cutting down the cost of their higher education significantly.
Is community college free in Missouri?
If you look at the sticker price of tuition, most community colleges in Missouri are not free. However, Missouri offers a generous scholarship called the A+ Program. This initiative covers tuition and fees for community college and technical college students who excelled in high school, effectively making community college free in Missouri for scholarship recipients.
The A+ program follows merit-based criteria. Applicants should have at least a 2.5 GPA in high school and at least 95% attendance during their high school years. They must also complete at least 50 hours of unpaid tutoring or mentoring as the community service requirement.
How many community colleges are in Missouri?
The Missouri Community College Association counts 12 public community colleges among its members, with nearly 90,000 students enrolled in total in 2016. Those colleges are:
- Crowder College
- East Central College
- Jefferson College
- Metropolitan Community College
- Mineral Area College
- Moberly Area Community College
- North Central Community College
- Ozarks Technical Community College
- St. Charles Community College
- St. Louis Community College
- State Fair Community College
- Three Rivers College
In addition, the state also has a number of private community colleges, like Ranken Technical College in St. Louis.
How much does community college cost in Missouri?
Students who attend public community colleges in Missouri pay about $3,197 in annual tuition and fees, according to the MCCA. That's less than half of what students pay on average at public four-year colleges and universities in Missouri, which amounts to about $7,859, MCCA data shows. It's also less than tuition at technical colleges, where the annual tuition rate reaches $5,873.
About 62% of community college students receive financial aid of some sort, and 48% receive need-based Pell grants. In addition, about 13,000 students participate in the A+ program, which covers their fees entirely.
What is Crowder College known for?
Based in the southwestern Missouri town of Neosho, Crowder College is known for its alternative energy program. Known as the Missouri Alternative and Renewable Energy Technology (MARET) program, this academic initiative allows engineering and science students to take part in solar, wind, and other renewable energy technology classes.
In fact, the solar team at Crowder created the first solar-powered vehicle to complete a trip across the U.S. --from California to Florida -- in 1984. The trip lasted from July to September, and the car with 16 solar panels crossed 2,400 miles. This accomplishment made Crowder known as a pioneering school for renewable energy technology.