Loras College has been named the 13th Best Regional College: Midwest, the 10th Best College for Veterans in the Regional Colleges: Midwest category and designated one of only 11 A+ Schools for B Students in the Regional Colleges: Midwest category according to the 2016 U.S. News Best Colleges rankings released Wednesday. The 2016 edition includes data on nearly 1,800 colleges and universities, and unlike most other publication rankings, U.S. News does not require institutions to complete a survey, invest in advertising or pay fees to be part of the listing.
The U.S. News Best Colleges rankings measure the strength of undergraduate academic programs, with eligible schools ranked on the following areas of academic excellence: assessment of excellence (22.5 percent), graduation and retention rates (22.5 percent), faculty resources (20 percent), student selectivity (12.5 percent), financial resources (10 percent), graduation rate performance (7.5 percent) and alumni giving (5 percent). Loras College was noted for its high peer assessment score, first-year retention rate, 2014 graduation rate and alumni giving rate.
“It is always nice to be recognized on these lists and in the rankings, but in the grand scheme of many considerations, these rankings lack use of stronger metrics and some of the methodology used is flawed,” said Loras College President Jim Collins (’84). “For instance, some institutions are defined national simply because they have more students majoring in traditional liberal arts programs. Others get listed in the highest student debt category while also being named a best value. Therefore, it is important that families and prospective students look into other more consistent and valid measures in assessing the strength of any institution and determining the best fit for a student.”
The Regional Colleges category is based on the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education and includes schools that focus almost entirely on the undergraduate experience and offer a broad range of programs in the liberal arts and in fields such as business, nursing and education. As most of the 363 colleges in this category draw heavily from nearby states, they are ranked by geographic region.
The Best Colleges for Veterans: Regional Colleges grouping include only numerically ranked schools in the 2016 edition of the U.S. News Best Colleges rankings. In addition, the institution must be certified for the GI Bill and participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program or be a public school that charges in-state tuition to all out-of-state veterans.
Finally, the A+ Schools for B Students category examined two variables: the school’s performance in the 2016 edition of the U.S. News Best Colleges rankings and the average freshman retention rate. In addition to passing the first two screens, colleges also had to admit a meaningful proportion of students who did not get straight A’s to make the final list of A+ Schools for B Students. That determination was made by using fall 2014 admissions data, including high school class standing and scores on the Critical Reading and Math portions of the SAT or composite ACT scores.
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