Washington Monthly once again ranked Berea College No. 1, in two major classifications, citing Berea as the nation’s top liberal arts college and ranking Berea as the Best Bang for the Buck College in the South. Berea’s top rank in the 2018 Washington Monthly College Guide and Rankings comes from its success in educating and graduating academically-talented students who have great financial need to become service-oriented leaders in their professions and communities.
“Berea College has become our perennial top-ranked liberal arts college because of its unique mission of providing a great, free education to low-income and first-generation students in Kentucky and Appalachia, with a strong commitment to service,” said Kevin Carey, director of the Education Policy Program at New America and guest editor of the Washington Monthly College Guide and Rankings issue.
Washington Monthly’s rankings focus on what colleges are doing for the good of the country at large by the way they educate their students. The publication measures schools’ success in three key areas—social mobility (admitting and graduating low-income students), research and Ph.D. production, and community service—to determine the rankings.
“The criteria for Washington Monthly rankings focus on aspects consistent with Berea’s mission of serving students who otherwise could not afford to attend college,” said Berea College President Lyle Roelofs.
While other publications rank schools using purely economic data and peer surveys that favor wealthy, elite colleges, Roelofs stated, the Washington Monthly criteria, by contrast, recognize the value of social mobility, transformative education and service.
“Since these values are consistent with Berea’s ‘Great Commitments’ that guide all of our work and inspire donors to support it, this recognition for Berea’s success is especially gratifying.”
Washington Monthly cited Berea’s distinctive mission of serving low-income students. More than 90 percent of Berea students receive federal Pell grants. The national graduation rates for that demographic averages only in the mid-teens. By contrast, more than two-thirds of Berea’s students graduate on time and a robust number go on to earn doctoral and other advanced degrees.
Berea College provides all students a four-year Tuition Promise Scholarship, which guarantees they will not pay tuition. As a result students can focus on getting a high-quality education instead of worrying about how to pay for it or taking on excessive debt.