The U.S. News and World Report included Abilene Christian University several times in its annual rankings for top colleges and universities.
This report is based on various metrics seen at every college or university. These metrics include freshman to sophomore retention rates, alumni givings, student-faculty ratio, class sizes, graduation rates, and several other factors. The factors that place the greatest impact in rankings are retention and graduation rates.
Presidents, provosts, and heads of admissions are also asked to fill out surveys with their overall perception on their regional counterparts.
ACU is found in the rankings seven times, but only four of these rankings are notable.
“We are proud of each type of recognition because, taken as a group, they clearly demonstrate ACU’s excellence and strong national reputation in so many areas,” said Dr. Allison Garrett, executive vice president.
ACU ranked twice in the top 25 and twice within the top 5.
ACU received a 17 ranking compared to all the other colleges and universities in the west regional rankings. Universities in this ranking include Oklahoma Christian University, Boise State University, Houston Baptist University, Santa Clara University, and several others.
Another ranking ACU earned was 15th “Best college for Veterans”.
The highest rankings ACU received for the western region were 5th in “Best Value School” and the 2nd “Most Innovative School”.
Many students view ACU as an expensive university to attend. ACU tuition for the 2015-2016 school year reaches $30,830. So, many might view ACU’s ranking of 5th in best value with surprise.
“ACU’s cost of attendance is less than the national average for private universities,” Garret said. “While attending a private university is expensive, we try hard to assure that students receive the aid they need to attend here. And we know that, armed with an ACU degree, our students’ job prospects are extremely good.”
The most impressive western region ranking ACU received was 2nd in the “Most Innovative Schools” category.
“We believe we’ve been innovators for each of our previous 109 years,” President Phil Schubert said in a Wednesday news release. “Innovation is something we encourage and honor on our campus, from studying the science of teaching, to being leaders in technology-driven strategies, and to providing the best undergraduate research opportunities in the world.”
The Maker Lab, which helps various students from different areas on campus, is one reason why ACU secured such a high rank.
“ACU’s Occupational Therapy students are designing and building adaptive devices to aid patients- something that usually occurs only after an occupational therapist has had many years of practice.”, Garrett said.
This innovation movement seen on ACU’s campus not only encourages ACU to receive rankings, but also to receive future students.
“For us to be able to demonstrate that we are offering a different type of experience, a more innovative approach, I think it could put us on more student’s radar,” said Dr. Eric Gumm, registrar and director of the first-year program and academic development. “And then coming to the campus, meeting the students, meeting the faculty, seeing our facilities and seeing our programs is probably more likely to increase our enrollment than just the ranking itself.”
Another way for future students to experience the ACU difference before officially committing is to have a tour on campus where tour guides will remind prospective students and their families about ACU’s recent accomplishments. During these tours, the prospects will pass various sites on campus that highlight ACU’s vision, including the Lunsford banners that now include propaganda posters for departments and regional rankings.
“ACU is really good at putting those hard posters everywhere,” said Amanda Stegall, senior tour guide and speech pathology major from Conroe.
The Lunsford has lit up ACU’s accomplishments beyond campus and into the life of the community.
Hopefully, these four notable rankings will help ACU expand not only into the Big Country, but also into the entire state, nation, and world.