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Forbes rates Wofford first in SC, 15th in South

The Village at Dusk

College ranks in top 10 private Southern institutions on Forbes.com

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Forbes has rated Wofford College the best higher education institution in South Carolina and placed it 15th on the recently released "The 20 Best Colleges in the South" list.  Wofford also is one of the top 10 private institutions in the South, a region with nearly 950 four-year institutions.  The rankings looked at both public and private colleges and universities - from liberal arts colleges such as Wofford to large research universities and military academies.

Wofford is the only South Carolina institution appearing on the lists. Private colleges dominate the ranks of the “Best in the South,” where seven of the top 10 schools in the region are privately operated.

Other colleges and universities on the top 20 list include Washington and Lee University, Rhodes College, Davidson College, Rice University, Emory University, the United States Naval Academy, the University of Virginia and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

To rank the Southern colleges, Forbes took its own “America’s Best Colleges” list, released in August 2009 in conjunction with the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, and focused on the regional divisions used by the U.S. Census. Wofford ranked 71st on that national list of 600 colleges and universities, both private and public. Of those, 181 are in the South.

The list includes institutions located in Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. There are 947 four-year colleges and universities in these states, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences’ National Center for Education Statistics.

Forbes.com says of the rankings:

“Whereas some college rankings are determined largely by reputation, Forbes’ and CCAP’s rankings emphasize the quality of students a school graduates, as opposed to the quality of students it admits.” The rankings are based on student satisfaction with their course instruction; indicators of postgraduate employment success; the estimated average four-year student loan debt; the likelihood that students graduate within four years; and on student and faculty success in winning nationally and internationally competitive academic and research awards.

“Only a few schools can rank near the very top of our list, but if a college appears on the rankings at all, that indicates it provides a high-quality education. According to the U.S. Department of Education, there are more than 4,000 college campuses in the U.S., and the CCAP ranks only the top 15 (percent) or so of all undergraduate institutions across the country.”

Because the number of organizations that rank colleges and universities is continually growing, CBS MoneyWatch.com rated the rankers at the end of 2009. On its five-star scale, only Forbes magazine’s America’s Best Colleges 2009 – the list used to select the best colleges in the South – achieved a five-star rating.

Forbes’ “self-declared aim is to size up 600 colleges ‘based on the quality of the education they provide, the experience of the students and how much they achieve,’” the MoneyWatch article states. “Forbes actually attempts to measure the quality of the education students receive (imagine that!).”