The US News and World Report rankings are always interesting. The “value” the rankings hold is that students and their families may start with the rankings or consult them when evaluating different colleges. So, we celebrate when we are ranked well since that means that more students may consider us – or even discover us – during their college search.
- #1 Most Innovating Liberal Arts College
- #2 Best Undergraduate Teaching (Liberal Arts Colleges)
- #1 Liberal Arts College that Promotes Social Mobility
We have a college culture that values good teaching – faculty prioritize it, students expect it, and the administration recognizes and awards it. The faculty use innovative pedagogies while also working with students one-on-one and going “above and beyond” in meeting students’ needs. It feels very good to have this recognized!
Our “innovative” ranking largely recognizes what we have achieved in developing and implementing SUMMIT, our signature experience which prepares “every student to be an effective change agent in a global society”. This is a major undertaking – especially while preserving the majors we already offered and maintaining their rigor and flexibility. SUMMIT is still living and growing – our current senior class was the first class to enter under this program. We have already made some tweaks and are working on some bigger changes. I’m teaching a SUMMIT course for seniors and it was interesting to ask them what they would change – many of them want more digital literacy earlier and more courses to prepare them for their (first year) global study tour.
Lastly – and perhaps most importantly – is our recognition for “promoting social mobility”. Many of our students are the first in their family to go to college and/or who are from low socioeconomic backgrounds. At some colleges, students from these backgrounds don’t have as high of graduation rate as other students – but we graduate these students at the same rate. Again, this is due to a positive campus culture and hard work across the board. Many faculty prioritize using affordable or free course materials. We are cognizant that many of our students have off-campus jobs, and we try to be as accommodating as possible when scheduling events. And while the faculty care deeply about giving students an excellent “Liberal Arts” education, we are also working hard to make sure that they are prepared (both in terms of knowledge and skills) to pursue graduate school or begin their career after graduation.