Elmhurst Places High in Latest College Rankings

September 1, 2015 | by the Office of Communications and Public Affairs

Several high-profile national media rankings have once again named Elmhurst College among the best colleges around, in areas that are top of mind with 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. And Forbes magazine, the Princeton Review and Niche.com place Elmhurst College among the top colleges in Illinois and the Midwest.

Elmhurst jumped to No. 121 this year (from No. 166 last year) on Money’s rankings, which focus on colleges and universities that “deliver the most value—that is, a great education, at an affordable price, that helps students launch promising careers.” Money selected the 736 most successful colleges and universities from the country’s total of 2,968, then ranked them on educational quality, affordability and outcomes.

The outcomes category, probably the most distinctive in the Money rankings, is based in part on alumni career earnings. Money evaluated each college based on graduates’ early and mid-career earnings (after five and 10 years), as reported to the website Payscale.com. Colleges also received a “value-added” grade that considered how well students at each school did versus what would be expected, given their economic and academic backgrounds and the institution’s mix of majors. Elmhurst College received a value-added grade of A.

Focusing on affordability, Money also considered levels of merit aid awarded, parent and student borrowing, the length of time to graduate, tuition increases, and other measures. At Elmhurst, the list price for tuition and fees is $34,200. As is the case at most private colleges and universities, however, the vast majority of Elmhurst students pay far less than the list price because they qualify for generous federal, state and college scholarships and grants. Last year, after deducting such awards, the average Elmhurst undergraduate paid around 45 percent of the list price. Also, the average debt load for recent Elmhurst graduates is 17 percent less than the national average for private colleges. It is comparable to what many students borrow to attend a public university.

Elmhurst students spoke highly to Money about the College’s “beautiful campus, friendly students” and small class sizes. One student said, “I loved that my professors could see me evolve from my freshman year to my senior year.” Noting Elmhurst’s affiliation with the United Church of Christ, another student said the environment is “very accepting of everyone, regardless of who they are or where they come from.”

By a wide margin, Elmhurst ranks the highest among the small private colleges and universities in Illinois. The College also outranks a number of larger competitors, including some of the biggest and best-known schools in the state. Elmhurst College also ranks among Money’s “50 Best Colleges You Can Actually Get Into,” a list that considers accessibility in relation to high-quality academics.

In this year’s Forbes magazine rankings, America’s Top Colleges, Elmhurst places among the top 15 in Illinois. The Forbes list of 650 schools examines what a student gets out of college rather than what it takes for a student to get into a college. Developed in partnership with the Washington, D.C.-based Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP), the Forbes list, like the Money list, includes schools ranging from small liberal arts colleges to huge public universities. 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. The list of 159 colleges and universities is part of “2016 Best Colleges: Region by Region,” which identifies “regional bests” in the Northeast, Southeast, Midwest and West. The regional bests constitute only 25 percent of the nation’s four-year colleges, and were selected for excellent academics, as well as students’ perceptions of their campus experiences. Students describe Elmhurst as “the perfect blend of big city access and small (but not too small) campus atmosphere.” They report that faculty members “know their students individually, not by their numbers.” The College also offers “great financial aid” and “endless opportunities for scholarships, mentorships, internships, research, and so much more.”

Elmhurst College also ranks among the top colleges in Illinois on Niche.com’s Best Colleges and Universities list, which ranks 892 colleges and universities based on 50 statistics and 12 million ratings from 300,000 students. A high ranking indicates that a college is an elite academic institution that attracts a diverse set of high-achieving students and faculty, that the college is affordable, and that students are very happy with their college experience. Elmhurst College also has been selected a 2015-16 College of Distinction for “its ongoing commitment to student engagement, great teaching, vibrant community and successful outcomes.” Colleges of Distinction excel at “providing a teaching-centered undergraduate education that combines innovative learning programs with experiential educational opportunities.” All classes at Elmhurst are taught by professors, not teaching assistants. The average class has 17 students, and the student-faculty ratio is 13 to 1.

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