***This article appeared in the August 18th edition of the Spartanburg Herald Journal and was written by Gary Glancy***
Converse College is the best buy in the South and Wofford College is among the best values in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report’s annual college guide released online this week.
The publication’s “Best Colleges 2011” guide also ranked the University of South Carolina Upstate one of the top public regional campuses in the South.
U.S. News & World Report ranked Converse No. 1 for Best Value: Regional Universities in the South, citing the college’s 82 percent rate of students receiving need-based grants for an average discount of 51 percent off the total cost to attend the school.
Overall, the publication ranked Converse No. 15 in the Regional Universities (South) category for the second time in three years — up two spots from last year.
“We are particularly energized by our top slot among schools who make quality academic programs affordable and accessible to students,” Converse President Betsy Fleming said in a statement. “It coincides with our rollout of ‘The Converse Commitment,’ a new scholarship plan that raises the bar for rewarding academic achievement with significant scholarship levels and creates a one-click (website) process for students to determine their bottom-line cost of attending Converse.”
Wofford earned a spot once again on the top National Liberal Arts Colleges list, coming in at No. 62 for the second year in a row. The college also moved up two spots from last year to No. 29 in the Best Value: National Liberal Arts Colleges category. About 52 percent of Wofford students receive need-based grants for an average discount of 59 percent off total cost, according to the guide.
USC Upstate, meanwhile, was ranked No. 4 among public Regional Colleges in the South, and No. 28 overall for all such institutions. The university has been cited as one of the top five public regional campuses each of the past 10 years, according to USC Upstate. USC Aiken was ranked No. 1 in the category this year.
The USC main campus in Columbia made a strong showing in the guide, as did Clemson University. Clemson was ranked No. 64 among National Universities and 23rd among public institutions, while USC was No. 111 overall and 52nd for public universities.
For the 14th consecutive year, the Darla Moore School of Business’ undergraduate program in international business at USC earned the No. 1 ranking, and the school itself held steady at the 42nd spot for overall business education nationally. The Moore School’s undergraduate insurance program is ranked No. 10.
USC also earned accolades for Undergraduate Research/Creative Projects. USC President Harris Pastides, who launched the Magellan Scholars Program and the Office of Undergraduate Research in 2005 when he was the university’s vice president for research, said in a statement that the university’s record research funding — $218.8 million in the fiscal year ending June 30 — enabled more undergraduates to engage in research opportunities.
Clemson is ranked 12th among all national doctoral universities, both public and private, for its commitment to undergraduate teaching. It is also identified as a top school in a number of other categories: Writing in the Disciplines, Learning Communities and Up-and-Coming National University. It is the third year Clemson has appeared on the Up-and-Coming schools list, ranking ninth.
According to the magazine, the Up and Coming list highlights schools that are making strides in quality improvements that earned them the most votes from other college administrators.
Highlights of the college rankings will be published in the September issue of U.S. News & World Report, available on newsstands Aug. 31.
The 2011 Best Colleges guidebook will be on newsstands Aug. 24.