New: Niche ranks the best Illinois community colleges

July 07, 2017

New Niche list ranks the best Illinois community colleges

Let’s face it: When it comes to education, there’s no one-size-fits-all formula. Some people might love the idea of a four-year education at a big school, others might feel more comfortable at community colleges.

And there are tons of reasons to look at community colleges during your college search. First off, community colleges are cheaper. Four-year institutions can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Meanwhile, community colleges can give you a quality education without rattling you with tons of student loan debt.

Community colleges also offer a lot of academic freedom. Want to learn at your own pace? Check. Want to maintain a part- or full-time job while pursuing your degree? Check. There’s no reason to rush, especially if you learn at a different pace or have a family that can’t take a backseat while you go to classes.

And there are tons of options for you. In fact, Illinois has some of the best in the country. Plus, Illinois is one of a handful of states that are working to make community college more financially accessible so more students can attend. It’s all part of the free community college movement that’s sweeping the nation.

Because Illinois is so chock full of community college options, it might be difficult for you to figure out which one is the right one for you. Never fear! We’ve looked into a list from Niche that ranks all of the best Illinois community colleges. The list ranks everything from professors and value to diversity and student experience. So take a look at what could be your future education and get those applications ready!

25. College of Lake County

Grayslake

  • Overall: B-
  • Professors: B-
  • Diversity A-
  • Student experience: C+
  • Value: B-
  • Safety: A
  • Location: B-
  • Niche user comment: “I am currently attending College of Lake County and my experience has been spectacular. Practically everything is a learning experience. You earn a good education. Every individual at CLC benefits your experience. Also, the assignments are challenging but interesting, and if one works hard enough, you will earn a great grade… I’d recommend this place to anyone.”

24. Southeastern University

Harrisburg

  • Overall: B-
  • Professors: B
  • Diversity C
  • Student experience: B-
  • Value: C+
  • Safety: A-
  • Location: C+
  • Niche user comment: “I had a great time at SIC. I was involved in athletics, made new friendships, and graduated with honors.”

23. Moraine Valley Community College

Palos Heights

  • Overall: B-
  • Professors: C
  • Diversity B+
  • Student experience: B-
  • Value: B-
  • Safety: A
  • Location: C-
  • Niche user comment: “Moraine Valley is a great school to transfer from; it’s inexpensive, has great facilities, a variety of classes offered throughout the day, and a (mostly) great group of professors. There is an Involvement Culture (not a party school), but you do have to know people and be an extrovert to enjoy it. Classes and campus are very crowded and you’ll hear everyone say parking is a huge problem! Definitely recommend going there, though.”

22. Highland Community College-Illinois

Freeport

  • Overall: B-
  • Professors: B-
  • Diversity B-
  • Student experience: C+
  • Value: B-
  • Safety: A+
  • Location: C+
  • Niche user comment: “I’ve really enjoyed my experience. As a non-traditional student I was engaged in the class discussions and engaged my instructors on a daily basis. I showed a strong desire to strive for excellence and I was rewarded with my professors helping me to be the student I aspired to be. “

21. John Wood Community College

Quincy

  • Overall: B-
  • Professors: B-
  • Diversity C
  • Student experience: C+
  • Value: B
  • Safety: A
  • Location: B
  • Niche user comment: “I went to John Wood for my freshman year of college. John Wood is a great transition from high school to college. The administration does a great job with taking care of their students.”

20. Richland Community College

Decatur

  • Overall: B-
  • Professors: C+
  • Diversity B-
  • Student experience: B-
  • Value: B-
  • Safety: A
  • Location: B-
  • Niche user comment: “thing I like about living in Decatur. The people who work there are very helpful. The one thing I would like to change about Richland Community College is having a Music department, especially for those who are majoring in music.
    Whether it is playing an instrument, going into production, or composing music. There should be a department like that.”

19. Triton College

River Grove

  • Overall: B-
  • Professors: C+
  • Diversity B+
  • Student experience: C+
  • Value: B-
  • Safety: A
  • Location: B-
  • Niche user comment: “Studying Pre Medicine so far the best decision I ever made. I just started a couple weeks ago and I already learned so much about the brain, it’s amazing! Some of our teachers have internship web pages to share with us whenever we need them. We get a lot of work done for being a one hour class, some are 2 hours, but we manage to get through a whole chapter in 2 days!”

18. Elgin Community College

Elgin

  • Overall: B-
  • Professors: C+
  • Diversity B+
  • Student experience: B-
  • Value: B-
  • Safety: A
  • Location: C
  • Niche user comment: “One of my favorite colleges! My experience here was great. My professors were kind and showed their passion through teaching. At ECC you will find diversity in the students and an open campus. It’s a great transition for seniors that just graduated high school. Also there are many different classes and clubs for students that are unsure of their major. ECC is known for helping students along the way to success I know from personal experience that you will never feel lost.”

17. Kankakee Community College

Kankakee

  • Overall: B-
  • Professors: C+
  • Diversity B-
  • Student experience: B
  • Value: B-
  • Safety: Not graded
  • Location: C+
  • Niche user comment: “Getting a degree from this school is valuable because KCC has high standards and has been recognized nationally several times. The employers are kind and the environment is always friendly. Everyone is helpful and efficient usually, although mistakes can still be made from time to time. I always walk in the front doors feeling safe and educationally inspired.”

16. Lincoln Land Community College

Springfield

  • Overall: B-
  • Professors: B-
  • Diversity B-
  • Student experience: B-
  • Value: B-
  • Safety: B
  • Location: B
  • Niche user comment: “Lincoln Land is an awesome and affordable option for students to begin their college careers. Small class sizes make the experience very personal, and the professors are always eager to help!”

15. Rock Valley College

Rockford

  • Overall: B-
  • Professors: B-
  • Diversity B-
  • Student experience: B-
  • Value: B-
  • Safety: B+
  • Location: C
  • Niche user comment: “My overall experience at Rock Valley College is pretty pleasant. The education is great, the teachers really do care about your success in the classroom, and the best is that it’s affordable! Only thing that I don’t really like about Rock Valley is that it’s kind of difficult to make friends there. The majority of people just attend class and then go home to do homework or go to work. That’s when I wish that there were more social interactions at the campus, but it’s a community college so I’m not too knit picky on that. Overall I believe that Rock Valley is a great school that provides a great education and possess awesome teachers and also has a very nice campus that’s easy to maneuver around too!”

14. McHenry County College

Crystal Lake

  • Overall: B-
  • Professors: B-
  • Diversity B-
  • Student experience: B-
  • Value: C+
  • Safety: A
  • Location: C+
  • Niche user comment: “I had a great experience at McHenry County College! After my high school completion, I had no idea what I wanted to study. Since I did not have the financial means to go to a 4-year university after graduation, I decided to attend my community college. McHenry County College(MCC) was able to help my personal and educational growth. The majority of the faculty wants the students to strive in their educational goals. I was presented with many opportunities at MCC. I worked on campus and did a lot of volunteer work through the school. Additionally, the school helped me create a vision of who I wanted to become. I saved money taking general requirements before deciding where I wanted to transfer to complete my Bachelor’s degree. I’m happy with the decision I made. :)”

13. Parkland College

Champaign

  • Overall: B-
  • Professors: B
  • Diversity B+
  • Student experience: B-
  • Value: C+
  • Safety: B
  • Location: A-
  • Niche user comment: “I loved being a Kinesiology major! The classes were engaging for the most part and I really enjoyed my professors. Unfortunately, being a Kinesiology major wasn’t enough to get me where I want to be, therefore, I will be attending Illinois State University in the Fall as an Athletic Training major and Parkland College as a Massage Therapy major. ISU will fulfill my dream of becoming an Athletic Trainer and getting my Associates degree in massage therapy will make me more marketable in the career.”

12. Kaskaskia College

Centralia

  • Overall: B-
  • Professors: C+
  • Diversity C-
  • Student experience: B
  • Value: B
  • Safety: A-
  • Location: C-
  • Niche user comment: “Kaskaskia College is an okay community college. The drive there kind of stinks, but the campus is very pretty. The best thing about this college is their extension centers. If you cannot make the drive to the main campus, you can go to their extension centers!”

11. Lewis & Clark Community College

Godfrey

  • Overall: B-
  • Professors: C+
  • Diversity B-
  • Student experience: B
  • Value: B
  • Safety: A+
  • Location: B-
  • Niche user comment: “Lewis and Clark is a decent size campus. It is very easy on the eyes. Aside from the castle-like structure of the main building, the property is covered with statues and pieces of art. In the spring and summer campus is covered in beautiful flowers and plants. The staff is very good! All of my professors thus far have encouraged me to do my best and helped me to succeed.”

10. Olney Central College

Olney

  • Overall: B-
  • Professors: C+
  • Diversity C-
  • Student experience: B-
  • Value: B+
  • Safety: A+
  • Location: C+
  • Niche user comment:  “After just deciding to go back to school for a second degree, I chose OCC due to all the positive feedback I have heard about their Nursing program. Linda Horn, head of the program, was extremely wonderful in explaining the application process to the program and in advising me of the best steps to take to get accepted, as well as, succeed in the program. Everyone from Linda, to the financial aid department, to records was phenomenal in assisting and helping by giving any info and answering all questions that I had!”

9. Shawnee Community College

Ullin

  • Overall: B-
  • Professors: B
  • Diversity C
  • Student experience: B
  • Value: B-
  • Safety: Not Graded
  • Location: Not Graded
  • Niche user comment:  “My experience at Shawnee community college was fantastic. It’s not a university but I feel that its a start. Its getting me ready for a bigger university. The professors were very helpful and they well always there. What I really liked about Shawnee the most was the classes.”

8. Sauk Community College

Dixon

  • Overall: B-
  • Professors: B-
  • Diversity C+
  • Student experience: B-
  • Value: B
  • Safety: A+
  • Location: B-
  • Niche user comment:  “Sauk is a really good economical choice when it comes to a starter school. The environment is really friendly and the staff is helpful, depending on which professor you have. Some professors are very concerned and dedicated to helping students pass, however other professors don’t care if you pass or fail and don’t make helping their students a priority. The school is great as long as you choose your professors wisely and stay dedicated.”

7. Harper College

Palatine

  • Overall: B
  • Professors: B-
  • Diversity B
  • Student experience: B
  • Value: B
  • Safety: A+
  • Location: B-
  • Niche user comment: “Harper College only reaches its full potential to those who seek just more than a community college, which is extremely difficult as it consists mainly of students who commute and work a lot of hours. But to those who can manage, taking advantage of PTK, Honors Program, and other organizations only helps you more in the long run. Having done the Honors Program, all of my Honors classes were conducted in a reading-homework forum-classtime style, and it was informative, fun, and it all counted toward my 60 credit hours. If I could, I would redo Harper by taking more Honors courses!”

6. Illinois Valley Community College

Oglesby

  • Overall: B
  • Professors: B+
  • Diversity C+
  • Student experience: B
  • Value: B
  • Safety: Not graded
  • Location: B-
  • Niche user comment: “IVCC is a wonderful community college. It is located perfectly between all of the surrounding communities. It really brings all these people within the nearest cities and counties together, and I love that. It feels a part of home. Everything you need to succeed is there; you just have to have initiative. The professors won’t hold your hand, but they will help you understand your coursework and allow you to be self-sufficient for the following material.”

5. Oakton Community College

Des Plaines

  • Overall: B
  • Professors: B
  • Diversity A-
  • Student experience: B-
  • Value: B
  • Safety: A+
  • Location: B-
  • Niche user comment: “This place prepares you wonderfully for the major you are going into. Plus, it has two campuses (one in Skokie and one is Des Plaines) so it’s easy to get to from a variety of towns and cities. All my teachers here have been tough, but fair and I’ve learned more than I could ever imagine from them. The administration is great as well and they really care about you, wanting to help you along and make sure you reach your academic and professional goals.”

4. John A. Logan College

Carterville

  • Overall: B
  • Professors: B-
  • Diversity C+
  • Student experience: A-
  • Value: C+
  • Safety: A+
  • Location: B-
  • Niche user comment: “I was a member of the softball team and was able to be a successful student and athlete. Small class sizes enhanced my learning and academic experience. Overall, my experience at John A. Logan prepared me for my future academic encounters.”

3. Carl Sandburg College

Galesburg

  • Overall: B
  • Professors: B
  • Diversity C+
  • Student experience: B-
  • Value: B+
  • Safety: A
  • Location: B
  • Niche user comment: “Carl Sandburg College has been a great experience for me. The school has excellent programs, with a lot a variety. The instructors have been excellent. The local area has a lot to offer. I would recommend Carl Sandburg College to any student looking for a quality education.”

2. Rend Lake College

Ina

  • Overall: B
  • Professors: C+
  • Diversity C-
  • Student experience: A-
  • Value: B
  • Safety: Not graded
  • Location: Not graded
  • Niche user comment: “I liked the size of the college and the ratio of students to teacher. I also like the campus itself. It is beautiful, the lake is very close to campus, and camp sites are close for commuters who live a ways off campus. I really enjoyed my chemistry class with professor Paul Sandrock, my speech class, and agriculture classes. I would like to see a change in academic advisors. The best advisor is Heather Bauersachs at the Pinckneyville campus. The advisors on campus need more education about the degree tracks and what is best for transfer students.”

1. Lake Land College

Mattoon

  • Overall: B+
  • Professors: B
  • Diversity B-
  • Student experience: B
  • Value: B
  • Safety: A+
  • Location: B-
  • Niche user comment: “I’ve had a great experience at Lake Land. I’ve had great professors who were extremely helpful with only one exception. Both on campus and online classes went well without any major issues. The college offers great scholarship opportunities for students who do well academically. The campus itself is clean and nice, and offers a multitude of great services.”
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