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by Jim Patterson | Tuesday, Sep. 10, 2013, 11:18 AM
Vanderbilt University was ranked No. 17 on U.S. News & World Report’s list of top national universities, while also receiving recognition for its value, learning communities and undergraduate research.
The university’s Opportunity Vanderbilt program appeared to have had an impact in two areas. Through Opportunity Vanderbilt, financial aid packages for undergraduate students include grant assistance and a reasonable work expectation, but no student loans.
Among national universities that offer the best value, Vanderbilt jumped five spots, moving from 16th to 11th in the “great school at a great price” category. U.S. News estimated that the average student paid $21,313 to attend Vanderbilt after receiving grants based on need. U.S. News also noted that Vanderbilt graduates have some of the least debt among graduates of national universities, with an average debt of $17,349.
“As a great university, we share the privilege and responsibility of empowering our scholars to contribute to the betterment of our society without the burden of crippling debt,” said Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos. “Vanderbilt is pleased for the continued recognition in these rankings as we stay true to our core missions of education and research.”
Vanderbilt was ranked 12th among national universities favored by high school counselors. The high school counselors rating is a separate indicator in the formula for establishing national reputation, which also considers ratings by college admission deans, provosts and presidents.
U.S. News pointed out Vanderbilt’s strength in creating learning communities, where students take two or more linked courses as a group to get to know one another and their professors better. They may also contain a residential component.
Vanderbilt’s first-year students live together in The Martha Rivers Ingram Commons along with faculty members who act as heads of the houses. There, formal programming and one-on-one contact with the heads of houses and their peers help merge newcomers into the Vanderbilt community.
The university also was cited for its undergraduate research/creative projects. Schools recognized in this category provided opportunities for students “independently or in small teams, and mentored by a faculty member to do intensive and self-directed or scholarly work that results in an original scholarly paper or product that can be presented on or off campus,” according to U.S. News.
The ranking also recognized Vanderbilt’s efforts at student diversity, noting it as a national university that values economic differences in the makeup of its student body.
Vanderbilt School of Engineering tied seven other schools at No. 35 on the list of undergraduate engineering schools whose highest degree is a doctorate.
The best national university rankings were determined by weighted measures of quality, including undergraduate academic reputation, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, finances, graduation rates and alumni giving.
Princeton was named the No. 1 national university, followed by Harvard and Yale.
Jim Patterson, (615) 322-NEWS
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