This is the third year that Washington Monthly has published rankings. Mars Hill’s 2012 ranking is up three places from last year, when it ranked 21st in the baccalaureate category. For 2011, the first year of the rankings, Mars Hill ranked 17th. It originally published its rankings as an alternative to the prestigious U.S. News & World Report rankings, and says that its rankings are based on better measures of student success.
Mars Hill College’s emphasis on service is one of the characteristics considered by the Washington Monthly rankings. Here, students gather cabbage Aug. 25 at Fields of Hope in Mars Hill, which provides food to people in the area.
According to washingtonmonthly.com, its rankings are based on three broad categories: social mobility (recruiting and graduating low-income students), research (producing cutting-edge scholarship and PhDs), and service (encouraging students to give something back to their country). Within those categories, each college receives points based on individual characteristics. Out of a possible 100 points, Mars Hill received a 69.
Washington Monthly not only gives an overall ranking for all three categories, it ranks each school on individual characteristics within the categories. Mars Hill received its best rankings on community service participation and hours served, coming in 15th in the nation among baccalaureate colleges. Mars Hill also ranked well on the number of bachelor’s recipients who go on to receive doctorates, relative to school size. On that measure, Mars Hill ranked 20th. The college ranked 27th for a combined measure of the number of staff supporting community service, relative to the total number of staff; the number of academic courses that incorporate service, relative to school size; and whether the institution provides scholarships for community service.
Dan Lunsford, Mars Hill’s president, said he believes the rankings are very valuable in helping students choose a college. “Students who choose a small liberal arts college like Mars Hill are looking for an educational experience that includes not just academic excellence, but an emphasis on personal attention, ethics and service as well,” he said.