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Rankings

Rankings validate Wofford’s place at the top

Wofford gets high marks for study abroad participation, affordability and accessibility.

Wofford does a lot of things well, and recent accolades from prestigious organizations and publications confirm that. 

Recently, the college has been recognized for its study abroad participation by the Open Doors 2015 report, for its affordability by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and as an institution that gives students the “best bang” for their buck by the Princeton Review.

Wofford has been in the top 10 baccalaureate institutions for the percentage of students studying abroad for credit for 20 years in the Open Doors report, issued by the Institute of International Education.

Brie White, a junior English major from Columbia, S.C., studied abroad in Melbourne, Australia, in the fall. She told the Old Gold & Black student newspaper as she prepared to return home, “I’ve experienced so much while I’ve been in Australia .... I’ve consistently navigated and used public transportation, something I’d never done previously. I took a selfie with a kangaroo. I made lifelong friends. I had to accept the truth that you cannot and will not get along with everyone. I was exposed to a very different form of government and type of health care system. I took classes that were extraordinarily different than anything Wofford has. I stood on the soil of three different countries. These five months have provided me with a lifetime of lovely and tiresome and beautiful and difficult experiences .... Soon I will be back to what I know; however, now I know a lot more.”

Open Doors also ranked Wofford #28 in total number of study abroad students on the survey’s top 40 baccalaureate institution list.

“Study abroad fosters opportunities for growth in intercultural competencies and creates a space for cross-cultural exchange. Through creating globally educated students, we aim to meet the college's mission of preparing them 'for extraordinary and positive contributions to society.’ Especially in tumultuous times, this mission rings true,” says Amy Lancaster, dean of international programs.”

The majority of Wofford’s study abroad participants this year will study overseas during the January Interim. The Interim is the reason that Wofford also ranked #15 on the list of colleges that offer short-term opportunities for study abroad experiences.

“We had students studying across the globe in January, including faculty-led opportunities that explored the history, culture and economies of Cuba, Greece, India, England, China, Italy, the Caribbean, Belize, South Africa, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand,” Lancaster says. “These types of experiences are essential in developing cross-cultural awareness, adaptability, independence and problem solving — skills that will prove vital to our students in the workplace and in their personal lives.”

Wofford is committed to providing students with a global learning experience, regardless of their field of study, socioeconomic background or athletics or co-curricular activities. Over the past three year, an average of 64 percent of Wofford students received academic credit for studying abroad at least once during their undergraduate experience. Since 2007, Wofford students have studied abroad in 70 countries on all seven continents. 

“Wofford encourages and assists students wishing to study abroad through a variety of scholarships and travel grants, both need and merit-based,” says Lancaster. “It’s a part of who we are as a college, and we’re determined to make these transformative experiences accessible to all of our students.”

To read more about Wofford’s study abroad program, visit www.wofford.edu/internationalprograms, or to read the full Open Doors 2015 report, go to www.iee.org/research-publications/open-doors.

Kiplinger’s Personal Finance ranked Wofford #116 on its list of the Top 300 Best College Values of 2016, placing the college as the top South Carolina institution on the overall list as well as the list of liberal arts colleges.

Introduced in 1998, the rankings highlight public schools, private universities and private liberal arts colleges that combine outstanding academics with affordable cost. In addition, Kiplinger has ranked the top 100 best values in each category.

Wofford earned the #61 spot on the magazine’s list of 100 best values in private liberal arts colleges. The college consistently ranks high on the Kiplinger’s “best value” lists.

“We are pleased to again be recognized by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance as a best value college,” President Nayef Samhat says. “We consistently land on such lists in various national college guides and publications. These recognitions reflect Wofford’s long-term commitment to balancing two important priorities: offering an outstanding residential educational program and focusing on affordability for a wide range of students and families.”

Kiplinger assesses value by measurable standards of academic quality and affordability. Quality measures include the admission rate, the percentage of students who return for sophomore year, the student-faculty ratio and four-year graduation rate. Cost criteria include sticker price, financial aid and average debt at graduation. Many schools have appeared on the list multiple times, a testament to the consistent value these colleges provide.

The complete rankings are now available online at www.kiplinger.com/links/college.

The Princeton Review education services company features Wofford in the 2016 edition of its book “Colleges That Pay You Back: The 200 Schools That Give You the Best Bang for Your Tuition Buck” (Penguin Random House/Princeton Review Books). The company also posted the selected colleges’ profiles for the book on its website at www.princetonreview.com/colleges-pay-you-back.

The publication chose the institutions based on ROI (return on investment) ratings it tallied for 650 colleges and universities last year. The ratings weighted 40 data points that covered everything from academics, cost and financial aid to graduation rates, student debt, and alumni salaries and job satisfaction. The editors culled data from the company’s surveys of administrators and students in 2014-15 and from PayScale.com’s survey of alumni conducted through April 2015.

“To be included once again in this publication by a very prestigious name in education, The Princeton Review, is quite gratifying,” Samhat says. “It shows how much we at Wofford value providing an excellent education that is affordable. Wofford has been recognized by other publications as being a best value in higher education, and the New York Times has ranked us as the top South Carolina institution that is doing the most for low-income students.”

He adds, “Wofford continues to be among the most prestigious colleges and universities in the country on the key issues that most concern families when it comes to higher education – access, diversity, quality and completion. Wofford’s extraordinary and transformational educational experience is accessible, socio-economically diverse, and we graduate superior students on time.”

The Princeton Review book highlights Wofford’s programs in preparing students for careers and graduate school after college. “Perhaps one of Wofford’s ‘greatest strengths is preparing … students for the business world,’” editors write. “The college ‘stresses the importance of internships and will do everything they can to help students in the job and graduate school application process.’”

Curt McPhail, executive director of The Space in the Mungo Center, Wofford’s professional development center, notes. “Wofford teaches students critical thinking and communications skills, then empowers them with opportunities for real-world experience, building on their liberal arts education. It’s what employers need and what graduate schools want. A Wofford graduate is prepared for what’s next. Ninety-four percent of the Class of 2014 was employed or in graduate school within six months of graduation.”

In the book’s profile of Wofford, the editors also praise the college for its “close-knit community” and “individualized attention.” It quotes students surveyed as noting Wofford’s “amazing study abroad program.” One student summed up his experiences: “(Wofford is) an exceptional liberal arts school that provides each student with a well-rounded education that prepares them for a successful future.”

In the fall of 2015, Wofford was featured among the best institutions for undergraduate education in The Princeton Review’s 2016 edition of its annual college guide, “The Best 380 Colleges.” Wofford consistently appears on this list as well as other well-regarded national college guides.

The New York Times in September ranked Wofford among the “Top Colleges Doing the Most for Low-Income Students,” at #70, making it the top ranked South Carolina institution on the listing of 179 colleges and universities.

by Laura Hendrix Corbin

Spring 2016