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PLU Highly Ranked in U.S. News & World Report’s ‘Best Colleges 2015’ Guidebook

September 9, 2014

PLU Highly Ranked in U.S. News & World Report’s ‘Best Colleges 2015’ Guidebook

By Sandy Deneau Dunham

PLU Marketing & Communications

U.S. News & World Report released its influential “Best Colleges 2015” guidebook Sept. 9—and Pacific Lutheran University is impressively cited three times in the Western region category, as the:

•    17th best university in the Western region;

•    fourth best university for veterans; and

•    10th best value.

U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges 2015” is one of the most widely used and recognized college-ranking publications. Its rankings are based on academic reputation, retention, graduation rate, faculty resources (including class size), student selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving rate.

PLU has ranked among the top 20 Western region universities every year since the first annual “Best College” survey in 1983.

“The publication of college rankings is a business enterprise that capitalizes on anxiety about college admissions, but still they matter because they get media attention and prospective students look at them,” said PLU President Thomas W. Krise. “While we’re pleased with our rankings and we want to continue to make sure we are included in those that are most popular, choosing a university is a far more personal and subjective matter, and what will be important to a student’s educational experience can’t always be summed up simply in arbitrary rankings.”

Krise pointed to a recent article in The New York Times about why colleges with a distinct focus have a hidden advantage. While social pressure often steers people toward the “best” schools as measured by things such as standardized test scores and rejection rates, many students have found that the best school for them is not necessarily the highest ranked, but the one that is most tailored to their educational interest or fellow students.  And the outperformance of those schools with a specialized mission is a sign of how colleges and universities that provide some unique cultural or educational experience can have a surprising advantage over the “brand name” schools.

In the “Best Colleges 2015” guidebook, PLU is ranked in the western geographic region among institutions that provide a full range of undergraduate majors and master’s programs but few doctoral programs. The hundreds of universities in this category are not ranked nationally but rather against their regional peer group, as they tend to draw students most heavily from surrounding states.

For 2015, PLU ranked as the fourth-best university in the West for veterans. The university’s extensive military collaboration is evidenced by the significant number of military-affiliated students enrolled at PLU as well as the nationally recognized Army ROTC detachment on campus, which has won three coveted MacArthur Awards in four years. PLU also offers an unlimited number of full-tuition Yellow Ribbon Scholarships for benefits-eligible veterans, spouses or dependents; enhanced professional staffing for military recruitment and student support on campus; and enhanced access to the PLU campus for the military community.

“When it comes to our military, PLU provides an opportunity for patriotic civilians to become great Army Officers,” said PLU Director of Military Outreach and Army veteran Michael Farnum. “And, just as importantly, we also provide military personnel an opportunity to return to being great civilian community members.”

PLU also ranked among the top 10 in the West on the magazine’s list of “Best Values,” based on the amount of debt students have after graduation.