Bluefield College has been ranked among the Top Tier Colleges in the South in U.S. News and World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges: 2012,” thanks in large part to its personal attention to students, quality of incoming freshmen, and generous financial aid.
In fact, BC ranked 43rd out of more than 100 colleges in 12 states that make up U.S. News’ South Region, including Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas.
More than 300 regional colleges in four regions of the United States are evaluated in U.S. News’ annual study, including about 100 colleges in the South Region, where Bluefield College ranked 43rd based on its strong scores in the areas of small class sizes, acceptance rate, freshmen SAT and ACT scores, financial aid packages, and student debt.
According to the U.S. News survey, Bluefield College boasts among all colleges in the South the fifth best percentage — 83.8 percent — of classes with fewer than 20 students. With that kind of average class size and a student to faculty ratio of 11:1, BC’s personal attention to students is among the best.
“While there are a number of approaches in measuring the quality of an educational experience, we are appreciative of this recognition by U.S. News,” said President David Olive. “I think this speaks volumes about our gifted faculty and staff and our constant pursuit of excellence in our academic and co-curricular programs.”
Another measure of standard that helped Bluefield College land its Top Tier status was its selectivity with incoming students, accepting only 47 percent of applicants, compared to a 100 percent acceptance rate by more tolerant schools in the South and a 30 percent acceptance rate by the more exclusive schools in the region. BC’s low acceptance rate ranked 11th out of all Southern colleges.
Similarly, the college fared well in measures of quality regarding its incoming students. For example, average SAT and ACT scores of incoming freshmen at Bluefield ranked 36th out of the more than 100 colleges in the South.
In addition, BC scored well in categories related to financial aid and student debt. More than 90 percent of students receive financial aid at Bluefield College at an average need and non-need value of $18,995 per year. Those numbers placed the college 32nd among all colleges in the South in the level of generosity of financial aid.
The result of this generosity: less debt for students graduating from Bluefield College. In fact, U.S. News ranked BC 12th among all schools in the South in the average total indebtedness of its graduating students. Last year, the average BC graduating senior left college with just $18,661 in total debt, compared to an average debt load of more than $36,000 for students at other colleges in the region.
The annual U.S. News rankings offer the opportunity for prospective students to judge the relative quality of academic institutions based on widely accepted indicators of excellence. Schools are categorized by mission, derived from the breakdown of the types of higher education developed by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The categories include National Universities, National Liberal Arts Colleges, Regional Universities, and Regional Colleges with regions divided into North, South, Midwest, and West. Regional colleges, like Bluefield College, focus primarily on undergraduate education.
For a complete listing of the rankings for “America’s Best Colleges: 2011,” visit the U.S. News and World Report web site at www.usnews.com/colleges.