News & Events
Washington Monthly Ranks MHC 17th
Mars Hill College has ranked 17th among baccalaureate colleges in the nation, on a new college ranking released today by Washington Monthly magazine.
Washington Monthly published the new rankings in print and on its website today, explaining that its ranking is in answer to the prestigious U.S. News & World Report rankings. Those rankings, it says, are based on the wrong measures of student success.
“This is our answer to U.S. News & World Report, which relies on crude and easily manipulated measures of wealth, exclusivity, and prestige for its rankings. Instead, we rate schools based on what they are doing for the country — on whether they’re improving social mobility, producing research, and promoting public service,” the site said.
Mars Hill College has historically done well in the U.S.News rankings, moving up this year to 29th from last year’s position of 36th among baccalaureate colleges in the South. It ranks even better in the Washington Monthly rankings, due in large part to its emphasis on service and the diversity of its student body.
President Dan Lunsford said he was gratified to see that the Washington Monthly rankings give greater weight than other rankings to several qualities on which Mars Hill College prides itself.
“For all of its 154 years, one of the hallmarks of Mars Hill College has been providing access to higher education for all students, with special emphasis on first generation students. It is our belief, both in theory and in practice, that liberal arts education, paired with opportunities for service to mankind, is the gateway to improving society at every level,” he said.
As a historically Baptist College, Mars Hill emphasizes civil engagement throughout the curriculum and even has a division of the college, called LifeWorks, which is dedicated to making connections between service and learning.
“Mars Hill College has a long history of connecting the classroom to the community, giving students the opportunity to apply their skills and knowledge as they work with a wide range of community agencies,” said Lisa Wachtman, Director of LifeWorks.
According to Wachtman, LifeWorks staff estimate that well over 200 students at Mars Hill College spent more than 20 hours per semester in ongoing service programs to the community last year. This estimate is in addition to numerous individual student service relationships. This kind of sustained connection with community partners is vital to the educational program at Mars Hill, as well as to the programming available at local agencies like My Sister’s Place, Mountin’ Hopes, and ABCCM, she said.
In addition to its emphasis on service, Mars Hill gets credit on the Washington Monthly rankings for putting a diverse student body on the road to opportunity. As of last year, just over 20 percent of students at Mars Hill were non-white minority students, including African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans. By percentage then, Mars Hill College boasts the greatest diversity figures of any college in the region.
Another unusually high number is Mars Hill’s percentage of first-generation students, which last year numbered around 71%.
In addition, over 95 percent of students at Mars Hill receive some form of monetary help in paying for their educations, in the form of scholarships, grants, loans and work study jobs. According to Washington Monthly, high stats in these categories mean that a college is reaching out to all students, not just the privileged few.
According to the editors of Washington Monthly, rankings are necessary and right, so that students and parents with limited time and resources can compare colleges and make the right decisions for themselves. But, the focus of the U.S.News rankings is skewed, it says.
An introductory article from the editors said: “While colleges do have a point when they complain about U.S.News’s ratings, the problem isn’t that U.S.News ranks colleges, but that it does so based on the wrong factors—like wealth, fame, and selectivity—that incentivize college administrators in the wrong ways. A college president vying for rankings glory on our list, by contrast, would have to enroll more low-income students, help them earn degrees, orient academic programs toward service, and invest in new scientific research. The country needs more of that kind of competition, not less.”