Rankings can be a great way to evaluate the quality of an accredited Christian university. By seeing how a college stacks up against others in its region, or even in the nation, you can make a more informed decision about what Christian college is best for you.
When evaluating rankings, be sure to check out the methodology of the organization or publication that puts the rankings together, since what’s important to you may not be what’s important to the ranking entity. For example, factors such as the size of a university’s financial endowment, admissions selectivity, and research grants to faculty are weighed heavily in some rankings, and these may not be as important to students as factors like affordability, financial aid, and job placement rates. Here we’ll explore some of the best-known rankings that can help you in your college search.
U.S. News & World Report
U.S. News & World Report provides the best known and most widely recognized set of rankings in the nation. Institutions who are ranked by U.S. News proudly display their ranking on their websites, and top rankings are highly coveted. Some of the most prominent rankings provided by U.S. News are the national university rankings, national liberal arts college rankings, regional universities rankings, and regional colleges rankings. Searching through these categories is important since many excellent Christian colleges do not have a national presence, but may be quite distinguished in their region.
Princeton Review and Forbes
The Princeton Review is another excellent resource for college rankings. The publication puts out more than 60 rankings each year in diverse categories. Prospective students can see how Christian universities stack up among best regional colleges of the Midwest, Northeast, West, and Southeast. They can also explore other handy lists, like the Financial Aid Honor Roll, and the 150 Best Value Colleges.
In addition, Forbes puts out a list of America’s Top Colleges, which includes Christian colleges like Wesleyan University and College of the Holy Cross ranking in the top 50. Forbes also routinely ranks business schools, so if you are interested in pursuing a business degree from a Christian university, you may want to consider these rankings as well. In 2011, Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business ranked in the top 50, making a strong showing in a field dominated by secular colleges.
Christian College Rankings Coming Soon!
While few widely-known publications rank Christian colleges specifically, ChristianColleges.com is in the process of generating such a list for the benefit of prospective students looking for the best Christian college among top rated Christian colleges. Keep an eye on the site in coming months as we assemble a list of high-quality schools and rank them using a transparent methodology.
Going beyond Rankings
While rankings serve as a helpful tool, be careful not to base your college decision on rankings alone, since other factors that aren’t as quantifiable will factor into your decision as well. For example, the Christian denomination of the university, its size and location, and ministry opportunities on campus will play a role in your decision, as well as whether the school offers flexible course options that fit in with your schedule. For many students, cost will be the most significant factor considered. You may want to choose a school that offers a large variety of institutional scholarships or that offers tuition prices that are well below the national average.
While rankings have their place, try to visit a college’s actual campus, talk to students and faculty, and get a feel for the general attitude of the place as well. Even a brief visit can provide a good idea of whether the school is a place where you’ll fit in, or whether you will decide to go elsewhere.