Aspen top 150 2019 FB

INA, Ill. (Oct. 11, 2017) – Rend Lake College was named today one of 150 community colleges eligible to compete for the 2019 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance in America’s community colleges.

RLC was selected from a pool of nearly 1,000 public two-year colleges nationwide to compete for the $1 million Aspen Prize.

“As always, we are honored to be considered one of the best options for students as they pursue their future. This type of recognition highlights the hard work and dedication of our staff to the goals and aspirations of our students and community,” said Rend Lake College President Terry Wilkerson.

Awarded every two years since 2011, the Aspen Prize recognizes institutions with outstanding achievements in four areas: learning; certificate and degree completion; employment and earnings; and high levels of access and success for minority and low-income students. This marks RLC’s fifth Aspen top 150: 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017 and now 2019, every year that the award has been active.

“Especially in the current social and economic climate, it is exceptionally important that our nation's community colleges develop the diverse talent needed to fuel democratic engagement, social mobility, and economic opportunity and growth,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. “Through this competition we’re working to inspire other institutions across our country to ensure more students succeed in college and their lives beyond those campuses.”  

RLC will move forward to the next round of the competition for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence by submitting an application to be reviewed through a rigorous evaluation for a spot on the top ten Aspen Prize finalists list. Top ten finalists will be named in May 2018. The Aspen Institute will then conduct site visits to each of the finalists and collect additional quantitative data. A distinguished Prize Jury will select a grand prize winner, finalist(s) with distinction, and rising star(s) in spring 2019.

This decision comes on the heels of RLC being ranked top in the state by WalletHub for the second straight year and being named SmartAsset’s top ranked community college in the nation for 2016.

For more information about the Aspen Institute or for details on the selection process, visit

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