College rankings are tricky. I quickly learned this when I became the higher education reporter at the Columbia Daily Tribune. Here’s the problem: If a university PR person brags about a high ranking one year and the ranking falls the next year, she can hardly claim “rankings don’t matter” at that point.
The Princeton Review yesterday announced Stephens is listed in its guide, “378 Best Colleges.” I’ll proudly tout that this is a big deal. We’re one of only two institutions in Mid-Missouri (MU being the other) in the book, which represents just 15 percent of all four-year colleges in the country.
What I like about this particular honor is that The Princeton Review doesn’t attempt to assign overall rankings—this is simply a list of the top colleges, and it’s up to potential students to find the one that best fits her needs. The guide gives students a glimpse of the campus environment—not just a bunch of rankings based on arbitrary stats like how many books are in the library. The Princeton Review actually takes the time to survey students about their experiences—and who better to tell potential students about a college than students who are currently enrolled?
Our students had some awesome things to say about Stephens, which they described as having an “amazing family atmosphere.”
A few quotes from the survey:
“Stephens empowers women to take on leadership roles in the workplace and the world.”
“Stephens gives its students everything they could possibly need to pursue their dreams,” encouraging them to “think independently” while offering “a plethora of opportunities to build a résumé́ and gain connections.”
“In the dance department we have an amazing world dance program, that brings in famous teachers and choreographers from around the world to teach us for eight weeks!”
Professors are “all very qualified in their fields. They love teaching here and are excited to work with students,” and “All of them go by their first name, which is pretty awesome.”
“Class sizes are small and the education is very personal; you can achieve to the highest level you want.”
When dealing with the higher-ups, “The answer is never no. If a student wants something to happen the faculty, especially the president, will make sure it happens.”
And students praised each other, too, saying classmates are “strong, independent, friendly, funny, [and] intelligent” and that the average undergrad is a “professional, driven woman who strives to do everything to the best of her ability.”
“We all have a plan for what we want to do in life, and we know that we will achieve it by being here.”
So, it’s awesome to be included in the 2014 “Best 378 Colleges” guide, but it’s even more amazing to hear that kind of feedback from our students. Because those types of reviews don’t change from year to year, regardless of rankings.