Running the Campus

NECC President Lane Glenn shares stories and perspectives on leadership, higher education, and going the extra mile

Community Colleges, Future, Higher Education

Community Colleges: Your Best Bet for Fall 2020

NOTE: This article appeared as “Amid Uncertainty, College Close to Home May Be Best Choice” in the April 20, 2020 edition of The Eagle-Tribune.

If you are a graduating high school senior about to begin your college experience, or a current college student anxious about what lies ahead, a community college like NECC may be your best bet for Fall 2020.

This coronavirus pandemic has thrown life into uncertainty and upended many traditions for high school seniors and their families, including proms, graduation ceremonies and, potentially, one of the most important decisions in their lives so far: deciding whether to leave home and live on a campus this fall as a college freshman.

Right now, understandably, most four-year universities aren’t sure whether their dorms will be open and whether they will be back to teaching in classrooms or not; and the potential cost of that uncertainty for students and families can be overwhelming to think about.

Here is another option to consider:  Community colleges offer a close-to-home, affordable, and high-quality education that opens new doors to your future—including good paying jobs (even during a recession) and transferring on to a four-year school.

Tuition and fees at Northern Essex Community College for most full-time students is around $6,000 a year—even less for students who qualify for one of many grants and scholarships available.

Recently, a Newburyport mom of two college students shared how her sons spent their first year at Northern Essex Community College taking general education classes at a fraction of the cost they would have paid to attend Northeastern University, their first-choice college. They were able to transfer those classes to Northeastern and, through a conditional acceptance program, start there as sophomores, saving a lot of money in the process.

Northeastern is only one of many competitive universities accepting Northern Essex credits. Last year’s grads transferred their credits to Boston University, Tufts, Union College, the University of Massachusetts, and dozens of other public and private colleges and universities.

We are especially proud of our partnerships with our top transfer destinations, the colleges and universities most popular with our graduates, including UMass Lowell, Salem State University, UMass Amherst, Southern New Hampshire University, Merrimack College, Regis College, and Cambridge College.

Already started at another four year? We do that, too.  Almost 20% of our student body transfers in credits from four-year schools.

Something I am most proud of is the quality education that you can get a community college like NECC.

I am a community college graduate.  My own two daughters have attended NECC.  I have spent my career in education at community colleges, and I know first-hand the amazing and talented faculty—complete with MBA’s, PhD’s, and plenty of real-world experience—we have at our schools. Our professors get to focus on teaching. At NECC, there are no graduate assistants teaching hundreds of students in giant lecture halls.

Our average class size is 21 students.

NECC has hundreds of courses, many of which are already fully on-line. On top of that, our student support services are phenomenal. We can prepare and guide our students for their next step and have staff whose primary focus is to help our students with their transfer credits.

This is what we do, not just during a crisis, but all the time.

For nearly sixty years, Northern Essex Community College has been here for you and for our community, and during an uncertain time, we will certainly help you reach your educational goals.

NOTE:  There are fifteen community colleges across Massachusetts–one within about half an hour of nearly every resident of the Commonwealth.  To find the one closest to you, click the map above, or visit the Massachusetts Association of Community Colleges at

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