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Sept 13, 2002

College Rankings Guides

Calvin College has been named to four college ranking guides (see write-ups below), including the just-released America's Best Colleges from U.S. News & World Report. Calvin also is in "The Best 345 Colleges" from the Princeton Review. Calvin also was featured in the recently released 2003 "Fiske Guide to Colleges," where it was named both a best school and one of just 43 best buys, and the 2003 "Unofficial, Unbiased Insider's Guide to the 320 Most Interesting Colleges."


The annual U.S. News rankings for 2002-2003 see Calvin College moving up one slot from a year ago. Calvin now is number three in the category of Midwest Comprehensive Bachelor's Colleges. There are 109 schools in that group.

"There are some very good schools in our category," says Calvin vice president Tom McWhertor, "including in the top 10. We're happy to be recognized as one of them."

MIAA colleague St. Mary's, Ind., was number one in Calvin's category, while Taylor, Ind., was second. St. Norbert, Wis., was fourth, while Ohio Northern and Otterbein, Ohio, were tied for fifth. Simpson, Wartburg and Central of Iowa were seventh through ninth with Augustana, S.D., Huntington, Ind., and Millikin, Ill. rounding out the top 10 in a tie for tenth.

Schools were rated in such categories as peer assessment, freshman retention rate, graduation rate, full-time faculty and more. Calvin scored the best of any school in its category in peer assessment, a rating that measures what presidents, provosts and deans of admissions at Calvin's competitors think of the school's academic programs.

McWhertor was pleased by that. "Throughout our history," he says, "we have tried to combine Christian commitment and academic excellence. To have our academic efforts recognized by our peers is heartening."

Calvin also scored high in its category in percentage of faculty who are full-time, freshman retention rate and graduation rate.

Calvin's category is made up of institutions that focus on undergraduate education and offer a range of degree programs, in the liberal arts, which account for fewer than half the bachelor's degrees, and in professional fields such as business, nursing, accounting, engineering, social work and education.

U.S News & World Report has been ranking colleges since 1983 and its survey is widely considered to be one of the most thorough. The survey ranks colleges on academic reputation, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving. Calvin has been a top-ranked school 15 of the last 17 years.

The newsstand book, America's Best Colleges, which contains the U.S. News college rankings, is slated to go on sale September 16. Most of the rankings and some of the articles from the book will be in the September 23 issue of U.S.News & World Report, the weekly newsmagazine, which also goes on sale September 16.


The Princeton Review guide annually garners national headlines with its lists within the guide. Students are surveyed and asked to rate their school in a variety of areas. Calvin, this year, made several of those surveys, including: Best Academic Bang For Your Buck (#2), Scotch and Soda, Hold the Scotch (#10), Got Milk? (#11), Stone-cold Sober Schools (#15), Best Quality of Life (#18) and Students Pray On A Regular Basis (#20). In the Best Academic Bang for Your Buck category, a measure of academic quality vs tuition cost, Calvin trailed only Rice University.

Just getting into "The Best 345 Colleges" is a coup. Those 345 schools represent only about 10% of the nation's colleges and universities. Other state schools included in the guide are: Albion, Kalamazoo, Michigan State, Michigan Tech and the University of Michigan.


The 2003 Fiske Guide to Colleges does not achieve the same notoriety as Princeton's book, but is considered one of the most prestigious of the many guides available. Now in its 19th edition the Fiske guide is under the guidance of former New York Times education editor Edward B. Fiske.

The Fiske Guide profiles "300 of the best and most interesting institutions in the nation." Calvin was one of seven state schools in the 2003 guide, joining MIAA colleagues Albion, Alma, Hope and Kalamazoo as well as the Big Ten's Michigan and Michigan State. But Calvin was the only state school named a Best Buy, an honor that Fiske awards to schools that "offer remarkable educational opportunities at a relatively modest cost."

The Fiske Guide said that Calvin is considered one of the country's top evangelical colleges and that "Christian values are as much a feature of the Calvin College experience as academics." The Fiske Guide noted, however, that the overall academic environment at Calvin is challenging and that Calvin graduates "have few problems getting accepted to graduate schools of law, medicine, or business." Fiske, like the Princeton Review, rates Calvin very high for quality of life (giving it four stars).


The "Unofficial, Unbiased Insider's Guide to the 320 Most Interesting Colleges" is published by Kaplan and it too praises Calvin's mix of academic excellence and Christian commitment. It also pays kudos to the Calvin faculty, saying "part of what makes the Calvin experience so rewarding for students is the dedication of the faculty to the students, and of the students to each other." The Kaplan guide includes state schools Albion, Hope, Kalamazoo, Michigan State and Michigan.

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Contact Phil de Haan
616-957-6475 (v)
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