Hillsdale College gets top marks from Princeton Review

Staunchly conservative Hillsdale College is listed among the world’s top colleges in the 2016 edition of The Princeton Review’s definitive rankings guide.

The organization’s annual book of “The Best 380 Colleges,” published earlier this month, ranks colleges according to survey responses from students and administrators, and serves as the basis for all the other ranking lists that The Princeton Review maintains.

In a press release published Thursday by PR Newswire, Hillsdale Provost Dr. David Whalen credits the honor to a combination of the school’s strong academic curriculum and a positive relationship between students and faculty.

“Hillsdale's commitment to the classical liberal arts and a rigorous core curriculum is rare in American colleges and universities today, and our inclusion … is further evidence that a classical liberal arts education best prepares students for the challenges of modern life,” Whalen said, adding that, “[o]ur students hold their professors in high regard, which speaks to the success of our efforts to cultivate a truly superb and engaged faculty.”

Inclusion in the rankings is a distinction for any college given that the list only includes about 15 percent of the 2,500 four-year colleges in the United States, along with just four foreign institutions. And while The Princeton Review does not produce a generalized internal ranking of its top colleges, it does conduct comprehensive surveys of their students (boasting 136,000 respondents this year) that allow rankings of the top 20 colleges in various categories.

Hillsdale took the top spot in just one category—“Future Rotarians and Daughters of the American Revolution”—which according to The Princeton Review means that, “students' answers indicated their personal political persuasions to be very conservative, [with] low levels of acceptance of the gay community on campus, high levels of popularity for student government on campus, and a very religious student body.”

Surprisingly, though, Hillsdale earned lower rankings on several constituent parts of that category, placing third for “most conservative students,” fifth for “most religious students,” and ninth for being “LGBTQ-unfriendly.”

“Hillsdale's outstanding academics are the chief reason we chose it for this book, and we strongly recommend it to applicants," said Robert Franek, The Princeton Review's senior vice president, publisher, and author of "The Best 380 Colleges."

The school earned recognition on several academic measures, placing fifth among featured colleges for “professors get high marks,” 16th for “their students love these colleges,” and 17th for “most accessible professors.”

Hillsdale also scored highly in several non-comparative ratings categories, earning scores of 98 (on a scale of 60 to 99) for professor accessibility, 99 for professor interest, 94 for academics, and 91 for quality of life.

The Princeton Review is not the only organization to recognize Hillsdale for its academic accomplishments, according to the school’s website.

In 2015, Hillsdale was named the best college for veterans by U.S. News and World Report, was ranked among the top 200 colleges nationally (and 34th in the Midwest) by Forbes magazine, and took 17th place on the Kiplinger’s Personal Finance list of the best value liberal arts colleges in the country.

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