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Wofford Hits High Note with New York Times and Forbes

Highest ranked South Carolina college or university on both lists

Wofford is among the “most economically diverse top colleges,” according to The New York Times’ recent ranking of the top 99 colleges and universities based on efforts to provide low-income students accessibility to a college education. Wofford was the top South Carolina institution on the list, ranked number 43, just ahead of Yale University at 44 and Davidson College at 47.

In his “The Upshot” blog, writer David Leonhardt focused on how economic diversity has changed at top colleges and universities, using data on first-time, full-time students with Pell grants from 2008 to the present.

Wofford scores above the overall average on the list and is one of only six institutions that posted a double-digit increase in the percentage of Pell-eligible students.

“On the key issues that most concern families when it comes to higher education – access, diversity, quality and completion – our place among the most prestigious universities and colleges in the country is evident,” Wofford President Nayef H. Samhat says. “Wofford’s extraordinary and transformational educational experience is accessible, socio-economically diverse and we graduate superior students in four years.”

Wofford also recently was ranked 85th among Forbes’ “America’s Top Colleges,” the highest-ranking South Carolina college among 2,500 four-year campuses – public, private, large and small – around the country. Wofford also was 12th among Best Colleges in the South and 71st among Best Private Colleges. The overall ranking was an improvement over last year’s ranking of 119.

“This year it comes down to small, student-centric, liberal arts colleges vs. large, brainy, research-oriented universities closely associated with science, technology, engineering and math,” writes Caroline Howard. The ranking “reveals higher education in flux, ongoing debate between the value of liberal arts vs. STEM degrees and a winning formula of high student satisfaction and graduation rates, alumni career success and low student debt.”

Forbes selected the 650 institutions it ranked based on five general categories: student satisfaction, post-graduate success, student debt, graduation rate and academic success (measured based on prestigious scholarships and fellowships, such as Rhodes, National Science Foundation and Fulbrights, as well as students who go on to earn Ph.D.s).

In addition, Wofford recently was featured in Princeton Review’s “Best 379 Colleges.” Only about 15 percent of all colleges and universities in the country are profiled in the book. The Princeton Review’s two-page profile of Wofford notes that students surveyed said the college has an “excellent reputation with graduate programs” and its “challenging” classes have established it as “a liberal arts college that provides an excellent education and opportunities to expand your horizons.” The guide also cites Wofford’s professors, classroom and lab facilities, career services and athletics facilities as strengths of the college.

Read press releases for all of our 2014 rankings at »

By Laura Hendrix Corbin, Fall 2014