Wallace State Community College has been ranked No. 1 among Alabama community colleges in the 2020 Best Online Community College Rankings and 16th in the nation, according to the Guide to Online Schools released by Optimal this week.
The national list includes the top 25 accredited schools offering online education across the country, while the state ranking highlights the top community colleges in each state. Both the overall and state lists were ranked using several important factors, including retention rate, graduation rate, percentage of online enrollment data, and the number of online associate degrees offered. These data points were all collected from the National Center of Education Statistics. Optimal researched 550 community colleges, and gave each a score based on these factors. Only schools that scored 70 percent or higher were included on the rankings. In order to be considered, community colleges must be regionally accredited and offer at least one fully online associate degree.
Wallace State students already had numerous online course offerings to choose from each semester, and the opportunity to earn associate degrees and certificates entirely online prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic forced all Wallace State courses to transition temporarily to an online platform during the Spring 2020 semester and many of those innovative methods continue.
Because all classes, even those offered on campus classes made some use of the college’s online learning management system Blackboard for course syllabi, posting grades and other resources, the college had a head start on the necessary transition to online classes in spring due to the pandemic. Students enrolled in general studies or liberal arts can earn an Associate in Arts or an Associate in Science completely online. Specific Associate in Applied Science degrees can be earned in programs like Accounting, Computer Science, Graphic Art and Design, Child Development and Health Information Technology. Online certificates can be earned in a number of programs as well, including General Studies, Child Development, Medical Coding and Pharmacy Technology. Adult education and continuing education classes are also available online.
The college also has added the full array of student services to its virtual offerings, so students can meet with recruiters, advisors, admissions and financial aid staff, tutors, success coaches, career services, mental health counselors and more, without coming to campus.
Since Wallace State participates in the STARS, statewide articulation system, students can take classes guaranteed to transfer from Wallace State to any of the public colleges and universities in Alabama, as well as many of the state’s private colleges and universities. Many students earn an associate degree on the way to a bachelor’s degree and transfer up to two years of credit to the university, saving thousands of dollars along the way. Students who start at Wallace State and finish at the university routinely do as well or better than students who begin at the university. The college also serves a large population of transient students who are home from a university but interested in taking required courses that they can then transfer for a fraction of the cost.
Wallace State is home to two prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Scholars, an Achieving the Dream Leader College, an Aspen Prize nominee, and All-Steinway School, League for Innovation Award Winner, and a National League for Nursing Center of Excellence, among other accolades.
Students interested in earning college credit this summer can still enroll for a second 5-week mini term that runs June 25-July 30. Registration for Fall Semester begins Tuesday, June 16. Fall semester classes begin Monday, Aug. 17.