Best Community Colleges in Wisconsin
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As of 2021, Wisconsin ranked 21st in terms of population among the 50 states. Wisconsin also houses the most dairy farms in the nation and is second only to California in the number of dairy cows and total milk production. Advanced manufacturing, agriculture, healthcare, information technology, life sciences are five key industries in Wisconsin.
The best community colleges in Wisconsin use open-admission policies, and many are relatively affordable. Students with a high school or GED diploma generally earn admission without needing to submit ACT or SAT scores. Major cities like Madison are home to employers from various domains, including healthcare, life sciences, agriculture, manufacturing, and IT.
Why Study in Wisconsin?
Prospective students can choose from 27 different community colleges in Wisconsin. These colleges offer more than 500 programs throughout the state, awarding associate degrees, diplomas, and certificates through the Wisconsin Technical College System. About 250,000 students enroll each year.
As of November 2021, Wisconsin's unemployment rate was 3.0% — well below the national average of 4.2%. Retail trade growth in the state has returned to its pre-pandemic conditions and many other industry areas are rebounding. The median household income in Wisconsin in 2019 was $61,747 — slightly below the national median of $62,843.
Cost of Living
As of 2021, Wisconsin ranked near the middle of the pack in terms of affordability — it was the 22nd most-affordable state to reside in. Grocery, housing, and transportation costs are all slightly below average, whereas utility costs in Wisconsin are slightly higher than average.
Cultural and Community Offerings
Wisconsin houses numerous community art, cultural, and heritage organizations, including Big Top Chautauqua, Folklore Village, and the Northern Lakes Center for the Arts. With over 30 urban and rural gallery art studio tours, Wisconsin maintains a burgeoning creative side.
The state also celebrates its rich cultural and ethnic past through annual festivals in Milwaukee, including Summerfest, Germanfest, Irish Fest, and multiethnic festivals such as the Holiday Folk Fair.
Wisconsin experiences a continental climate. The state's winters suit a variety of winter sports, while its warm summers attract many vacationers each year. Winters are cold and snowy, and temperatures may even drop to -30 degrees Fahrenheit each year.
Top Degree Programs in Wisconsin
Featured Online Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
Wisconsin Employment Outlook
The Department of Workforce Development projects that Wisconsin will add almost 250,000 new jobs between mid-2020 and mid-2022 — an increase of 8.2%.
According to these projections, the leisure and hospitality industry should experience an increase of almost 50% as pandemic-related restrictions continue to ease. In addition, the trade, transport, and utility industry is projected to experience 9% growth. The education, health services, and construction sectors are all projected to experience 5% job growth.
5 In-Demand Wisconsin Jobs
Registered nurses work on the front lines of healthcare. They identify patients' needs and ensure that people receive the proper treatment by evaluating medical plans.
- Median Annual Salary (2020): $73,540
- Job Outlook (2018-2028): 8%
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants use their analytical, communication, and organizational skills to carry out complex legal operations, assisting attorneys and other law professionals. Tasks may include research, investigation, and administrative work.
- Median Annual Salary (2020): $48,390
- Job Outlook (2018-2028): 4%
Industrial Machinery Mechanics
Industrial machinery mechanics work with the internal parts of complex industrial machinery. They maintain machines and instruments and identify potential damage.
- Median Annual Salary (2020): $55,550
- Job Outlook (2018-2028): 8%
Electricians undertake installation and maintenance for various systems, including wiring, control, and lighting systems. They may also make repairs.
- Median Annual Salary (2020): $64,220
- Job Outlook (2018-2028): 8%
Food Service Managers
Food service managers mainly perform two tasks: provide a satisfactory dining experience for patrons and ensure profitability for the dining establishment. They also supervise and direct food service staff.
- Median Annual Salary (2020): $50,070
- Job Outlook (2018-2028): 5%
Popular Career Paths in Wisconsin
Best Accredited Community Colleges in Wisconsin
Rankings compiled by the BestColleges Ranking Team
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Frequently Asked Questions About Community Colleges in Wisconsin
Are community colleges worth it?
Community colleges often offer a more affordable pathway toward a four-year degree. They generally charge lower tuition rates than four-year universities. If they plan well, students can save significant amounts of money by transferring community college credits toward a bachelor's degree.
Furthermore, community colleges help students who earn a certificate or associate degree directly enter the workforce in a relatively short period of time.
What is the cheapest community college in Wisconsin?
With a 2021-22 in-state tuition rate of roughly $4,500, Madison College is one of the most affordable community colleges in Wisconsin. The school offers over 190 programs and also provides many financial aid and scholarship opportunities.
Is college free in Wisconsin?
While not all colleges are free in Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin Madison offers free tuition for students from low-income households through the Bucky's Tuition Promise program. Students who come from families making less than $56,000 may receive free tuition for four years.
What is the hardest college to get into in Wisconsin?
The University of Wisconsin Madison is one of the hardest colleges to get into. UW's acceptance rate typically ranges from 50-60%, and it was roughly 57% in the fall 2020. However, students seeking admission to community colleges usually only need a high school or GED diploma.
How do you qualify for in-state tuition in Wisconsin?
In general, incoming students must be residents of Wisconsin for at least 12 months before enrolling to qualify for in-state tuition.
Feature Image: Walter Bibikow / DigitalVision / Getty Images