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46 Baptist colleges ranked in U.S. News & World Report survey

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Nearly four dozen colleges and universities in the Association of Southern Baptist Colleges and Schools have been listed among the leaders in American higher education in U.S. News and World Report’s annual survey.

Nine ASBCS member institutions were listed in the top tier of colleges and universities analyzed and compared in four categories; 14 were listed in the second tier; 17 in the third tier; and six in the fourth tier. One ASBCS member school was ranked in the top 10 among schools in their respective category with the highest graduation rates.

The national news magazine studied more than 1,400 institutions across the United States, gathering data from the schools themselves and soliciting opinions from peer institutions regarding perceptions of quality. Using a weighting system based on what the editors believe to be indicators of quality, they develop a ranking in four categories: Best National Universities-Doctoral; Best Liberal Arts Colleges-Bachelor’s; Best Universities-Master’s; and Best Comprehensive Colleges-Bachelor’s.

Their ranking is determined by analyzing data gathered in such categories as peer assessment, average graduation rate, average freshman retention rate, percentage of classes under 20, percentage of classes over 50, student/faculty ratio, SAT/ACT scores of students, freshmen in top 25 percent of high school class, acceptance rate of applying students, and alumni giving.

For schools evaluated in the national universities-doctoral and liberal arts colleges-bachelor’s categories, the ranking system also analyzes data on graduation rate performance, faculty resources, percentage of faculty who are fulltime, percentage of students in top 10 percent of high school class, and financial resources. In addition to the overall ranking, the magazine developed additional comparisons involving lowest acceptance rate, highest graduation rate and highest proportion of classes under 20.

Of the 46 ASBCS member schools ranked by U.S. News & World Report, nine in the top tier were listed in Best Universities-Master’s and in Best Comprehensive Colleges-Bachelor’s.

Ranked in the top tier of Best Universities-Master’s in the South were Samford University (fifth), Mercer University (tied for sixth), Belmont University (tied for 21st) and Union University (tied for 32nd).

Hardin-Simmons University was ranked in the top tier of Best Universities-Master’s in the West (tied for 32nd). The Best Universities-Master’s category looked at 572 schools that the magazine determined fit into this group. These are schools that provide a full range of undergraduate and master’s-level programs but offer few if any doctoral programs.

Among institutions ranked in the category Best Comprehensive Colleges-Bachelor’s were four ASBCS members schools in the top tier: Oklahoma Baptist University (second in the West), Ouachita Baptist University (fifth in the South), Shorter College (16th in the South) and Louisiana College (21st in the South).

Oklahoma Baptist University also was ranked second in the listing of schools with the highest graduation rate among the Best Comprehensive Colleges-Bachelor’s. The category includes 324 institutions that were evaluated by U.S. News and World Report and includes schools that offer a wide range of undergraduate degrees in liberal arts and professional disciplines.

Baylor University was listed in the second tier of Best National Universities-Doctoral category, ranking 78th among the 249 institutions that fit the profile. These schools are evaluated based on the fact that they offer a “wide range of undergraduate majors as well as master’s and doctoral programs.” The group included 162 public institutions and 87 private institutions.

Other schools ranked in the second tier in their respective categories included 14 ASBCS member schools. Among the Best Universities-Master’s in the South were Campbell University, Carson-Newman College, Cumberland College and Mississippi College. Dallas Baptist University, Grand Canyon University and the University of Mary Hardin Baylor were listed among the schools in the West.

In the Best Comprehensive Colleges-Bachelor’s category, six ASBCS member schools were ranked in the second tier: Bluefield College, Blue Mountain College, Mars Hill College and Virginia Intermont College in the South and East Texas Baptist University and Howard Payne University in the West.

Seventeen ASBCS schools were ranked in the third tier of their respective categories. Georgetown College and William Jewell were listed among the Best Liberal Arts Colleges-Bachelor’s. Averett University, Campbellsville University, Charleston Southern University, Gardner Webb University, Palm Beach Atlantic University, University of Mobile, William Carey College, California Baptist University, Houston Baptist University and Wayland Baptist University were listed among the Best Universities-Master’s. Anderson College, Chowan College, North Greenville College, Judson College (Ill.) and Hannibal-LaGrange College were included among the Best Comprehensive Colleges-Bachelor’s.

Six ASBCS member schools were ranked in the fourth tier of their respective categories: Judson College (Alabama) among the Best Liberal Arts Colleges-Bachelor’s; Southwest Baptist University among the Best Universities-Master’s; Brewton-Parker College, Mid-Continent College, Missouri Baptist University and Williams Baptist College among Best Comprehensive Colleges-Bachelor’s.

Thirteen ASBCS schools reported graduation rates in excess of 50 percent with Baylor (72 percent) and Samford (66 percent) leading the way in percentages of entering students graduating within six years. The reported freshman retention rates showed that 13 member schools reported retention rates above 70 percent, reflecting noteworthy success in keeping students who begin their studies at ASBCS member schools.

ASBCS member schools ranked high in all categories, but alumni giving lowered their total scores and kept them from being ranked higher.

Achieving national recognition for the quality of education offered is a significant step for colleges and universities. Schools will use the rankings in various promotional materials and presentations with target groups such as prospective students, alumni and donors. Independent third-party recognition of quality based on research adds to the credibility of the institutions within their communities as well as their efforts to combine a commitment to educational excellence within their faith heritage.
Bob R. Agee is executive director of the Association of Southern Baptist Colleges and Schools.

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