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4 colleges are among best listing

August 21, 2004|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

TRI-STATE - Four Tri-State area colleges were named among the best in their regions by U.S. News & World Report's America's Best Colleges for 2005.

The magazine ranks colleges every year based on their level of course offerings and regions - North, Midwest, South and West.

Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pa., ranked 18th out of 69 colleges in the north that primarily offer undergraduate programs, according to U.S. News & World Report.

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Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, W.Va., ranked 45th out of 105 colleges in the south that primarily focus on undergraduate education, the magazine states.

Hood College in Frederick, Md., was 19th out of 169 schools in the north that offer undergraduate and graduate programs, while Shippensburg (Pa.) University ranked 45th in the same category.

Shepherd University also was fifth on the list of top five public colleges in the south that mainly offer undergraduate programs, according to a written statement from the college.

Frostburg (Md.) State University did not receive an individual ranking. The magazine classified the college as a "third tier" school among those in the north that offer undergraduate- and graduate-level courses.

That means Frostburg State didn't rank in the top 50 percent of the 169 schools in the category and was listed with other schools that didn't receive ranks, according to the magazine.

Frostburg officials did not return a phone call Friday afternoon.

The magazine bases its ranking on several factors, including graduation and retention rate, average admission test scores of incoming students and class size.

Susan Hallenbeck, vice president of enrollment at Hood College, said Friday that those interested in attending college shouldn't base their selection solely on how the school ranked, but that the list is a "good" start in searching for a college.

"If it stimulates a student to do a little research ... then the ranking is doing its job," Hallenbeck said.

Hallenbeck said Hood expected to be ranked by the magazine and was pleased with the result.

"We knew we'd be there," she said. "We just didn't know what the ranking would be."

Hallenbeck said she thought the college's small class size and student/faculty ratio of 10-to-1 played a large role in the school being ranked 10th in its category.

"We just think that our academic experience is top-notch," Hallenbeck said.

Wilson College President Lorna Duphiney Edmundson said Friday that the college's ranking is affirmation of the job its faculty and students are doing.

"We're pleased to be in the top tier," she said. "It's nice to be recognized nationally."

Edmundson said Wilson College received its 18th-place ranking because of its student acceptance rate, small classes and personalized instruction, and high percentage of financial contributions by graduates.

She said the school's 67 percent student acceptance rate is lower than many other schools in its category. Many of the college's classes have 20 or fewer students.

"We have no classes of 50 or more," Edmundson said.

Between 41 percent and 49 percent of graduates donate to the school's operating budget, which allows the college to keep its tuition affordable, she said.

Tuition at Wilson for the 2004-05 school year is $17,947, and room and board costs $7,308, according to Wilson's Web site.

Edmundson said that while some colleges might not agree with their rankings, the list serves a purpose.

"There's always some controversy over the rankings in terms of what they mean," she said. "Even if we aren't completely satisfied with what they have, the parents and students really pay attention. Parents and students look at this as a guide giving them important information."

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