Best Community Colleges in New Mexico
Learn more about the educational opportunities available at community colleges in New Mexico.
There are a total of 18 community colleges in the state of New Mexico. Together, they serve a student population of more than 64,000 every year. Community colleges in New Mexico offer a variety of academic programs that can help students make a quicker transition from college to entry-level jobs in high-demand industries.
The best community colleges in New Mexico provide prospective students with an alternative and more affordable educational pathway, along with a direct route to the jobs that they are aiming for.
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Why Study in New Mexico?
Enrolling at a four-year university can prove too costly for some students, and community colleges seek to provide a solution. Community colleges in New Mexico are mostly known for their two-year associate programs, but they also provide students with credits that can transfer to four-year universities or colleges.
Many community colleges in New Mexico also offer students the option to take courses fully online or in a hybrid setup that combines distance learning and on-campus classes.
Like most other states, New Mexico's economy dropped during the first surge of the COVID-19 pandemic. New Mexico lost more than 60,000 jobs to the pandemic, but the state's economy is steadily recovering. To stabilize the economy and quickly produce new jobs, New Mexico is making strategic investments and crafting innovative solutions in the sectors of tourism, marketing, food preparation and serving, and entertainment.
Cost of Living
The cost of living in New Mexico is below the national average by almost 12 points. This means that living in New Mexico is more affordable than in most states in the country. The cost of housing in the state is 16% cheaper than the national average. Along with less costly housing, all other living expenses in New Mexico fall below the U.S. average, including groceries, healthcare, and transportation.
Cultural and Community Offerings
New Mexico is a diverse state with many artistic attractions. New Mexico is home to many cultural districts, including the Artesia Arts and Cultural District, Gallup Arts and Cultural District, Los Alamos Creative District, and Raton Arts and Cultural District.
Moreover, the state also boasts world-renowned museums, including the New Mexico History Museum, Museum of International Folk Art, Fort Selden Historic Site, and the National Hispanic Cultural Center. Visitors and residents who enjoy exploring the outdoors will also find ample opportunities for hiking, horseback riding, and rock climbing in the state.
New Mexico's tourist-friendly climate is among its best attractions. New Mexico experiences more sun than the national average, and less snow and rain than most states. There are sometimes short bursts of rain in July and August, but nothing that could be considered extreme.
Top Degree Programs in New Mexico
Featured Online Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
New Mexico Employment Outlook
The economy and employment rates in New Mexico are still in the recovery process due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the unemployment rate in New Mexico stands at 6.9%, which is still above the national average of 6.2%. However, the number has improved considerably and continues to shrink. The state's unemployment rate was 9.2% following the first surge of the pandemic in March 2020.
New Mexico was significantly impacted by COVID-19, with the sectors of retail trade, accommodation and food services, and arts, entertainment, and recreation sustaining significant layoffs.
5 New Mexico Jobs in Demand
Personal Care and Service Occupations
Completing a short-term skills training program can lead to entry-level jobs in the personal care and service industry. Workers in this field can pursue a variety of roles, including first-line supervisor in entertainment and recreation businesses, concierge, exercise trainer, fitness instructor, and residential advisor.
Healthcare Support Occupations
Most community colleges offer associate degrees that can provide students with the qualifications needed to pursue careers in the healthcare support industry. Professionals in this field include nursing assistants, occupational therapy assistants, dental assistants, and healthcare support workers.
Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations
With a total of 71,010 jobs and a high job growth rate, the food preparation and serving related field is currently the second-largest industry in New Mexico. Finishing a skills training program can enable students to assume roles as assistants to chefs and head cooks and first-line supervisors of food preparation and serving workers.
Community and Social Service Occupations
The community and social service sector is currently one of the most in-demand fields in the state of New Mexico. Entry-level professionals in this field include health education specialists, social and human service assistants, community health workers, and assistants to career counselors and rehabilitation counselors.
Transportation and Material Moving Occupations
Community college programs can prepare graduates for entry-level roles in the transportation and material moving industry. Roles in this industry include air traffic controller, sales worker, flight attendant, heavy and tractor-trailer truck driver, material moving machine operator, railroad worker, and water transportation worker.
Popular Career Paths in New Mexico
Best Accredited Community Colleges in New Mexico
Rankings compiled by the BestColleges Ranking Team
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Frequently Asked Questions About Community Colleges in New Mexico
Are community colleges worth it?
Yes. For students eager to quickly join the workforce and advance in their careers, enrolling in community college can be a practical educational route. Community colleges provide an alternative college-to-workforce pathway that is often more affordable and flexible than attending a four-year college or university.
Furthermore, most credits can transfer to four-year universities, which leads to reduced costs should students decide to enroll in bachelor's degree programs. Students in community colleges can also often take classes fully online.
How many community colleges are in New Mexico?
There are a total of 18 community colleges in New Mexico.
Is community college free in New Mexico?
All students pursuing an associate degree on a full-time basis in any New Mexico community college are eligible for the New Mexico Lottery Scholarship, a tuition promise program that qualifies recent high school graduates for 100% free tuition.
The New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship is another tuition promise program that also allows students pursuing certificate programs or associate degrees to earn significant financial aid. Part-time learners can receive this scholarship.
Other grant programs available for college community students in New Mexico include the Student Incentive Grants, College Affordability Grants, Pell Grants, and Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants. Prospective students can complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to seek federal financial aid.
How many junior colleges are in New Mexico?
There are a total of 22 junior colleges in New Mexico, 19 of which are public, while the other three are private colleges.
Is Santa Fe a community college?
Santa Fe Community College is one of the 18 community colleges in New Mexico. Founded in 1983, SFCC now serves more than 15,000 students every year. SFCC offers more than 100 degree and certificate programs. The school also offers credit and noncredit courses, continuing education classes, and adult basic education programs.
Along with affordable tuition fees, SFCC also provides exceptional support services, including career and counseling services; online teaching and learning; and offices for student accessibility, development, and employment.
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BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.
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