By Juliette Faraone
(Appeared in the Sept.7 print edition of The Woods)
For the fourth year in a row, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College has been listed by the magazine U.S. News and World Report as one of the best undergraduate colleges in the Midwest.
SMWC moved up in its ranking from number 20 last year, to number 18 out of 71 Tier One regional colleges, according to the magazine.
Schools with Tier One status receive higher amounts of research funding, which attracts a larger number of students pursuing careers in research and development. Large corporations view such institutions as providing highly skilled workers that establish a competitive advantage in the marketplace, according to the magazine.
In addition to the honor of being listed among these schools, SMWC was also recognized as having one of the highest percentages of “under-20” classes, with 94 percent of classes having less than 20 students.
“We are proud to be consistently recognized as one of the top colleges in the Midwest,” said Dottie King, interim president of SMWC. “Our commitment to our students continues to focus on academic excellence where students engage in leadership and service; stretch their minds and imagination in and out of the classroom; and see ways to affect positive changes in our global society.”
First published in 1983, the U.S. News college ranking system has grown to become the most complete research tool for students and parents considering higher education. U.S. News and World Report sorts viable schools based on classifications created by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
In order to rate the schools, U.S. News first combines the nine Carnegie categories into four main groups: National Universities, National Liberal Arts Colleges, Regional Universities and Regional Colleges.
The group that SMWC falls into is that of “regional colleges.”
Regional colleges, as defined by the Carnegie Foundation, have their primary focus on providing an undergraduate education, which makes them similar in many ways to liberal arts colleges. However, regional colleges award less than 50 percent of their degrees in liberal arts disciplines. This means that at these schools, at least 10 percent of undergraduate degrees granted are bachelor’s degrees.
There are 319 regional colleges in the United States. The magazine ranks these institutions within four regions: North, South, Midwest, and West.
Of the many aspects that shape the rankings’ key measures of worth are peer assessment, retention, graduation rates, faculty, resources, student selectivity, financial resources, and high school counselor ratings of colleges.
Established by Saint Mother Theodore Guerin and the Sisters of Providence in 1840, SMWC has the reputation of being the oldest women’s Catholic liberal arts college in the United States.
As noted by U.S. News and World Report, SMWC gives students access to a broad liberal arts-based education, as well as scholarships and financial aid opportunities to make college more affordable. Small class sizes mean more attention to the individual.
According to the U.S. News website, SMWC provides “a value-centered education in a Catholic tradition,” and an extensive assortment of student activities.
The latest rankings, which also include rankings of more than 1,400 schools nationwide, are available to view at http://usnews.com/colleges. The rankings are also in the September print issue, which hit newsstands Aug. 31.