More than 1,100 community colleges currently offer education and training in the United States.

One ranking service considers Southwestern Community College to be the very best.

The N.C. Community College System office notified SCC officials recently that Bestcolleges.com put Southwestern at No . 1 in its listing of “The Best Community Colleges & Trade Schools of 2020.”

Although this is Southwestern’s debut atop a nationwide ranking, it marks the fourth time in the last 13 years that SCC has been included among the Top 10 colleges in the U.S. Washington Monthly placed Southwestern at No. 4 (in 2007) and No. 9 (in 2010), and WalletHub had SCC at No. 7 in 2015.

On its website, bestcolleges.com says its methodology is “grounded in statistical data and a few consistently applied guiding principles, including academic quality, affordability and online competency.”

“It is no surprise to learn that Southwestern Community has earned the ranking as the number one community college in the United States from among a long list of prestigious community colleges,” Jackson County Board of Commissioners Chair Brian McMahan said. “SCC has a long history of excellence in education, workforce development and cultural enrichment in the lives of the people of Western North Carolina and especially Jackson County.”

Southwestern is the nation’s only community college to have a scientific partnership with NASA.

The college’s Public Safety Training Center, located in Franklin, was the first in the U.S. to offer Park Ranger Law Enforcement Academy training for the National Park Service.

Southwestern is also the first and only community college in the state to offer an associate degree in Outdoor Leadership.

In cooperation with Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, SCC was the first college in North Carolina to offer table-gaming classes.

SCC has served Jackson, Macon and Swain counties and the Qualla Boundary since 1964. Among the college’s 40 degree programs are 14 in healthcare fields, and construction is underway on a new Health Sciences Building that will allow Southwestern the potential to add three more programs upon completion next year.