Higher Education

'Best Colleges' ranks West Michigan schools

September 16, 2014
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GVSU, founded in 1960, has a student body of more than 25,000 students and an estimated economic impact of more than $730 million on the region. Courtesy GVSU

The final grades from U.S. News & World Report are in for colleges across West Michigan.

The magazine based in Washington, D.C. released the 30th edition of its national “Best Colleges” rankings last week.

The 2015 “Best Colleges” ranking measures the “academic excellence” of colleges and universities throughout the nation to help parents and students determine the best schools, value and investment.

“Our goal for the past 30 years has been to provide families with the most comprehensive information on colleges to help them make one of life’s most important and often most costly decisions,” said Brian Kelly, editor and chief content officer, U.S. News & World Report.

The ranking measures several colleges in West Michigan: Aquinas College, Calvin College, Cornerstone University, Davenport University, Ferris State University, Grace Bible College, Grand Valley State University, Hope College, Kalamazoo College, Kuyper College and Western Michigan University.

U.S. News & World Report ranks the schools in various categories: National Universities, which offer undergraduate, master’s and doctoral programs, while emphasizing faculty research; National Liberal Arts Colleges, which focus mostly on undergraduate education; Regional Universities, which provide undergraduate and some master’s degree programs; and Regional Colleges, which offer an undergraduate focus, but issue fewer than 50 percent of degrees in liberal arts disciplines.


The “Best Colleges” ranking includes roughly 1,800 academic institutions throughout the nation and measures a broad set of criteria, such as academic reputation, retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, graduate rate performance and alumni giving rate.

Using a composite score, colleges are then ranked for their overall performance and placed in categories based on their educational mission, which is defined by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Although U.S. News & World Report has data on nearly 1,800 institutions, 91.5 percent of the 1,365 surveyed colleges returned statistical information and are highlighted in the ranking or given a “rank not published” designation.

The magazine uses other sources to compile the missing data for some schools: the American Association of University Professors, National Collegiate Athletic Association, Council for Aid to Education and the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.

West Michigan schools in the 2015 “Best Colleges” ranking

Aquinas College: No. 44 Regional University Midwest, No. 15 Best Value Schools for Regional Universities

Calvin College: No. 116 National Liberal Arts College, No. 111 High School Counselor for National Colleges, Best Undergraduate engineering programs*

Cornerstone University: No. 201 Best Online Bachelor’s programs, Regional University Midwest ("rank not published")

Davenport University: No. 141 Best Online Bachelor’s programs, Regional University Midwest ("rank not published")

Ferris State University: No. 54 Regional University Midwest, No. 13 Top Public Schools Regional University Midwest, No. 131 Best Online Bachelor’s programs, Best Undergraduate engineering programs*

Grace Bible College: Regional College Midwest ("rank not published")

Grand Valley State University: No. 26 Regional University Midwest, No. 3 Top Public Schools Regional University Midwest, Best Undergraduate Business programs*, Best Undergraduate Engineering programs*

Hope College: No. 99 National Liberal Arts College, No. 88 High Schools Counselor for National Colleges, Best Undergraduate Engineering programs*

Kalamazoo College: No. 64 National Liberal Arts College, No. 55 High School Counselor for National Colleges, No. 6 Up-and-Coming Schools

Kuyper College: No. 64 Regional College Midwest

Western Michigan University: No. 173 National University, No. 97 Top Public Schools, No. 204 High School Counselor for National Universities, No. 58 Best Colleges for Veterans, Best Undergraduate Business programs*

* rank is behind paywall

Source: U.S. News & World Report, 2014

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