Washington Monthly ranked Berea College as the nation’s top liberal arts college and also ranked Berea College as number 1 in the Best Bang for the Buck Colleges in the South category again this year. Berea’s top rank in the 2016 Washington Monthly College Rankings Guide comes from its success in educating and graduating academically talented, low-income students who become service-oriented leaders in their professions and communities.
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.
A Washington Monthly article stated, “The top Best Bang for the Buck colleges in each of our five regions reflect a diverse group of institutions. Harvard University (tops in the Northeast) does a relatively good job for an elite college in enrolling lower-income and first-generation students, and getting into Harvard is generally a ticket to economic success. Berea College (South) [is] familiar to many in the higher education world for being [a]tuition-free college that primarily serve[s] low-income students.”
Berea College President Lyle Roelofs said, “Recognition for Berea College and our success in serving low-income students is especially gratifying. The criteria for Washington Monthly rankings focus on aspects consistent with Berea’s mission. While other publications rank schools using purely economic data and peer surveys that favor wealthy, elite colleges, by contrast, The Washington Monthly criteria recognizes the value of social mobility, transformative education, and service, all of which resonate with Berea’s ‘Great Commitments’ that inform all of the College’s work.”
Citing Berea’s mission to serve low-income students, Washington Monthly noted that 85 percent of Berea students receive federal Pell grants. (Nationally, that student demographic has graduation rates only in the mid-teens.) By contrast, nearly two-thirds of Berea’s students graduate on time and a healthy number go on to earn Ph.Ds and other advanced degrees.
“Serving a diverse population of talented, low-income students from Appalachia and around the world. Berea College provides all of our students a four-year Tuition Promise Scholarship, which guarantees they will not pay tuition. Doing so ensures our students can focus on getting an education instead of worrying about how they will pay for it or taking on high levels of debt,” President Roelofs said. “With nearly 50 percent of our graduates pursuing an advanced degree and 50 percent working in service-related occupations, Berea College alumni are leaders in their professions and engaged citizens in their communities.”
The Washington Monthly College Rankings and guide appear online at: http://washingtonmonthly.com/college_guide?ranking=2016-rankings-national-universities-liberal-arts
Berea College, the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, focuses on learning, labor and service. The College admits only academically promising students with limited financial resources, primarily from Kentucky and Appalachia, although students come from 40 states and 60 countries. Every Berea student receives a Tuition Promise Scholarship, which means no Berea student pays for tuition. Berea is one of eight federally recognized Work Colleges, so students work 10 hours or more weekly, earning money for books, housing, and meals. The College’s motto, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth,” speaks to its inclusive Christian character.