Elmhurst College has been named the 10th Best Regional University in the Midwest in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges rankings for 2016. The College also rose to the ninth spot this year, from 10th, on U.S. News’s list of Best Value Schools, or “Great Schools at a Great Price.”
This is the first time Elmhurst College has cracked the Top 10 list of Best Regional Universities in U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings, the country’s best known and most closely followed college rankings. The College’s rise on the Best Value Schools list this year continues its movement from last year, when Elmhurst shot up three places to reach the No. 10 spot. The 2016 rankings were released on September 9.
“We are very pleased to have entered the Top 10 among best regional colleges and universities, and to have reached No. 9 on the list of great schools at a great price,” said Elmhurst College Interim President Larry Braskamp. “Year after year, our high rankings in U.S. News and other college rankings confirm the strength and success of our commitment to students—to putting them first and helping them to reach their potential.”
The Best Regional Universities category comprises institutions, grouped by geographic region, that provide a full range of undergraduate majors and master’s degree programs. The institutions in each region are ranked against each other because, in general, they tend to draw most of their students from within their own state or surrounding states. Elmhurst ranked 10th among 113 institutions in the Midwest region. It maintains the highest ranking among colleges and universities in the Chicago metropolitan area in this category. Schools ranked higher than Elmhurst include Creighton, Butler and Drake universities, all far larger than Elmhurst.
Some of the factors that counted toward Elmhurst’s rank include its strong freshman retention rate of 80 percent and its low student-to-faculty ratio. All classes at Elmhurst are taught by professors, not teaching assistants, and the student-to-faculty ratio is 13 to 1.
U.S. News calculates its Best Value rankings by taking into account a school’s academic quality, based on its U.S. News Best Colleges ranking, and the 2014-15 net cost of attendance for a student who received the average level of need-based financial aid. The higher the quality of the program and the lower the cost, the better the deal. Only schools in or near the top half of their U.S. News ranking categories are included, because U.S. News considers the most significant values to be among colleges that perform well academically.
The rankings showed that 72 percent of Elmhurst students in 2014 received grants based on financial need, and that the average discount from the total cost was 46 percent. The College also notes that the average debt load for recent Elmhurst graduates is 17 percent less than the national average for private colleges, making it comparable to what many students borrow to attend a public university.
The U.S. News rankings join several other recent, high-profile national media rankings that have named Elmhurst College among the best colleges around, in areas that mean the most to today’s students and families: educational value for tuition dollars, meaningful campus experience, and proven record of preparing students for successful careers and lives.
On Money magazine’s nationwide list of Best Colleges For Your Money, Elmhurst ranks in the top 4 percent of the country’s nearly 3,000 four-year colleges and universities. Elmhurst jumped to No. 121 this year from No. 166 last year on Money’s list of 736 of the country’s most successful colleges and universities, which were ranked by educational quality, affordability and outcomes, or how well graduates have done. Elmhurst students spoke highly to Money about the College’s “beautiful campus, friendly students” and small class sizes.
In this year’s Forbes magazine rankings, America’s Top Colleges, Elmhurst places among the top 15 in Illinois. Forbes analyzes data regarding student satisfaction with their classes; post-graduate success, in terms of not only alumni salaries but also how many alumni become leaders, influencers and innovators; student debt; graduation rates; and academic success, or how often students win prestigious scholarships and fellowships, and whether they pursue doctoral studies.
For the 12th year in a row, Elmhurst College has been named one of the Princeton Review’s “Best in the Midwest” schools. Students in this ranking describe Elmhurst as “the perfect blend of big city access and small (but not too small) campus atmosphere.” They also said the College offers “great financial aid” and “endless opportunities for scholarships, mentorships, internships, research, and so much more.”