U.S. News has once again affirmed Union College as one of the “U.S. News Best Colleges” by ranking Union number 22 out of 86 regional Midwestern colleges, up from 31st place last year. This is the 17th consecutive year the publication has placed Union in the top quartile of regional schools.
“Year after year, it’s very gratifying to be recognized for the hard work everyone at Union College puts into providing a quality, affordable education for our students,” said Dr. Vinita Sauder, college president. “Union has always taken a Christ-first approach, which is very different from the values embedded in the U.S. News methodology. But even without the examples of spiritual and personal growth we at Union prize so highly, the metrics still tell a success story.”
Union also ranked highly in two supplemental lists:
#21 “Best Value Schools”
The “Best Value” designation comes from a formula that weighs the “Best Colleges” ranking against its total cost of attendance — add up tuition, fees and living expenses then subtract the average financial aid award. While the math can get complicated, the idea is simple. According to U.S. News, “the higher the quality of the program and the lower the cost, the better the deal.” Only schools ranked in or near the top half of their categories are included because U.S. News considers the most significant values to be among colleges that are above average academically
#54 “Top Performers on Social Mobility”
This list is based on the graduation rate of students eligible for the Pell Grant, a federal contribution for low-income families. Statistically, lower-income students are less likely to graduate than their wealthier peers, and choosing a school that will help them stay on target for graduation increases their lifetime income.
Being recognized for affordability and social mobility is particularly affirming for the college administration. “For 131 years, we have stuck by the motto that Union’s first president, W. W. Prescott, chose: ‘They all shall be taught of God,’” said Sauder. “Not just the rich. Not just those with perfect grades and test scores. All. Our goal is to make Adventist education accessible to as many students as possible. That’s only possible because of the steadfast financial support of our alumni and Mid-America Union constituents.”
The annual “Best Colleges” list published by U.S. News and World Report is the oldest and most widely read direct comparison of American colleges and universities. The rankings serve as an important resource for parents and high school students. However, no single data set can account for all of the variables that make a college the right choice for a particular student.
Many of the measures used by the U.S. News researchers are proxies for wealth, from faculty pay rates to class sizes and spending per student. According to Sauder, “What we lack in endowments and state subsidies, we make up for in the quality of our committed and caring faculty and staff — each a reflection of Christ’s educational mission. They are the true heroes behind the data.”