Ranked in Top Five Midwest Colleges with Lowest Student Debt by U.S. News & World Report

LINDSBORG, KAN., September 19, 2011—Bethany College has been ranked as a Best Regional College by U.S. News & World Report. Bethany earned placement in the top five colleges with the lowest student debt upon graduation and ranked No. 49 overall. This marks the fifth consecutive year that Bethany has been classified in the top tier of the Midwest region. Bethany also ranked 12th in average amount of need-based aid awarded, 20th in campus ethnic diversity, and 20th in most international students.

U.S. News & World Report states that its college rankings provide information to students and their families to find the best academic value for their money. The rankings allow comparisons of relative quality among institutions based on widely accepted indicators of excellence, such as freshman retention and graduation rates. The indicators for regional colleges—the category in which Bethany College is included—are peer assessment, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, and alumni giving.

In addition to Bethany, six other schools in Kansas ranked in the top tier. Of the Kansas institutions, Bethany had the highest percentage (73%) of classes with less than 20 students and tied with Bethel College for the lowest student-to-faculty ratio of 11:1.

“Our students and alumni know what a quality education and meaningful experience Bethany provides, and the Best Colleges report is another way to get the word out to future students,” says Tricia Hawk, Dean of Recruitment and Marketing. “We are especially pleased to be ranked among the Midwest colleges whose students graduate with the least amount of debt. Over 95% of the student body receives financial aid, and that results in students leaving Bethany prepared for success both professionally and financially.”

“We are pleased to be ranked in the top tier for the fifth year by U.S. News,” says President Edward F. Leonard III. “Bethany has been implementing Call to Action, our renaissance plan, as we confront honestly our current reality and position ourselves for our strategic vision and plan for the future.  This Best Colleges ranking shows we are indeed on the right path to building a bigger, better, and stronger Bethany.”

The rankings also highlighted areas in which Bethany can improve, such as retention. “Although we would have liked Bethany to have ranked higher in retention, we are aware that retention has long challenged us,” said President Leonard. “We know how important retention is to be a bigger Bethany, and it’s the result of being a better Bethany.  Last year, we addressed retention by being part of the Foundations of Excellence in the First College Year©. The rankings only support that this is an important improvement initiative.”

The Foundations of Excellence in the First College Year© is a national higher education project sponsored by the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education. Bethany was selected in 2010-2011 to participate in the program. Through the project, Bethany measured its effectiveness in recruiting, admitting, orienting, supporting, advising and teaching new students. This year, Bethany will begin making programmatic improvements that will improve the overall experience of first-year students.

“Last year’s comprehensive assessment has set up this fall’s work on the implementation plan,” said President Leonard. “I’m pleased with the work we’ve done so far, but the hard work is still in front of us.”

Another opportunity for growth is in the percentage of alumni who contribute. Bethany has an active alumni community and will work to increase the percentage of those who support the college monetarily. “We look to further engage our alumni and connect them with the college by getting them involved in our renaissance plan,” says President Leonard. “Alumni want Bethany to succeed, and we need alumni to help us succeed.”

The college ratings appeared in the “America’s Best Colleges” report by U.S. News & World Report. The magazine annually evaluates accredited four-year schools. For more information, visit www.usnews.com/colleges.

Bethany College, established by Swedish Lutheran immigrants in 1881, is a college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The mission of Bethany College is to educate, develop and challenge individuals to reach for truth and excellence as they lead lives of faith, learning and service. Bethany College is on the Web at www.bethanylb.edu/.