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Berea College has been named the #1 Liberal Arts College in the country by Washington Monthly magazine.   Such recognition would not be possible without the strong belief alumni and friends have in our mission.  Because of their loyal, generous support, they share this recognition with the college and thousands of others who have joined together to make Berea a college of distinction.  They have invested in the best.

The Washington Monthly rating stands out among the sea of college ranking publications that dot magazine stands across the nation.   Many publications that rank colleges and universities use criteria that focus on student test scores, economic data, and peer surveys that tilt the ratings toward elite colleges of wealth.   In contrast, the Washington Monthly criteria value social mobility, excellent education, and community service and validate Berea’s mission to serve the public good by educating talented low-income students who become service-oriented leaders in Appalachia and beyond.

While the ranking provides a wonderful occasion to celebrate our success, it also is a time to reflect on the importance of what we do.  When all is said and done – magazine rating or no magazine rating – what is most important is not THAT we’re #1, it’s WHY we’re #1.  We have held steady the course of serving a diverse population of talented, low-income, and hard working students from Appalachia and around the world by providing all of them with a four-year tuition scholarship.  We make a difference in their lives so they can move forward and make a difference in the world.

What Washington Monthly Says about Its College Rankings

Every year the Washington Monthly devotes an entire issue to assessing America’s colleges and universities. We do this because we believe they are key to the country’s greatness. They produce the research and human capital that fuel the economy.  They teach the habits of mind and spirit that undergird democracy. And they provide the means for upward mobility that is the bedrock justification for the American experiment.

—Paul Glastris

Editor’s Note

Since 2005, our rankings have posed [the] question: What are colleges doing for the country? Higher education, after all, isn’t just important for undergraduates. We all benefit when colleges produce groundbreaking research that drives economic growth, when they offer students from low-income families the path to a better life, and when they shape the character of future leaders.

—The Editors

Introduction: A Different Kind of College Ranking

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