Westmont leaped 19 spots in this year’s ranking of the best liberal arts colleges according to U.S. News and World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges, 2010 Edition.” Of the nation’s 266 liberal arts colleges, Westmont finished at 92. This is the fifth straight year the college has ranked in the top tier.
Only seven other liberal arts colleges in California are included in the first tier: Pomona, Claremont McKenna, Harvey Mudd, Scripps, Occidental, Pitzer and Thomas Aquinas colleges.
Westmont is just one of two liberal arts colleges among the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU) in the top 100, and the only one in California to be listed in the first tier.
The college has been steadily climbing in its national ranking. Westmont moved into the third tier in 2000, into the second in 2003 and into the top tier in 2005.
President Gayle D. Beebe says it’s an honor to be ranked so high, though he admits it’s not the perfect system.
“About half our students study abroad or participate in an off-campus program to expand their worldview,” Beebe says. “This is incredibly important, but it’s not one of the criteria U.S. News uses. Westmont students also take part in amazing undergraduate research while being mentored by faculty, something else not considered in the overall scores.”
Joyce Luy, Westmont dean of admission, encourages students, parents and counselors not to base their college choice solely on the U.S. News ranking. “College-bound students should also consider such factors as community, spiritual life or a student’s relationships with faculty, which are important reasons why applicants decide to attend Westmont,” Luy says.
Areas of achievement include peer assessment, percentage of classes under 50, percentage of full-time faculty, SAT test scores, acceptance rate and percentage of alumni who give. The largest jump was the 2008 graduation rate, which climbed 11 percent to 80 percent.