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Bethel ranks well in new category in annual U.S. News survey

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College is the highest ranked Kansas college in the national liberal arts category of the 2008 edition of “America’s Best Colleges,” published annually by U.S. News & World Report. The rankings, which this year feature some substantial changes in methodology, will be published in the magazine’s August 27 issue (on newsstands Monday, August 20) and are available online.

Bethel College was previously in “Best Comprehensive Colleges,” divided into four regional groups. That category no longer exists – its closest equivalent is “Best Baccalaureate Colleges” – and Bethel is now compared to liberal arts institutions nationwide. Bethel appears in the third tier of “Best Liberal Arts Colleges,” defined by U.S. News & World Report as those that focus almost exclusively on undergraduate education, awarding at least 50 percent of degrees in the arts and sciences. The highest scoring liberal arts schools are ranked in one table, followed by the so-called third- and fourth-tier schools.

“This ranking confirms the strength of Bethel College,” said President Barry C. Bartel. “We welcome the opportunity to be compared to the group of national liberal arts colleges this year. Being ranked strongly in consecutive years in different categories reaffirms the strength both of the undergraduate education in arts and sciences and of the professional programs. We intend to continue strengthening both areas of our curriculum.”

U.S. News & World Report categorizes schools based on the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching classifications. Many schools changed from one U.S. News & World Report ranking category to another due to the foundation’s recently announced “2006 Basic version.” Schools that switched categories since last year’s rankings (more than 200) are noted in the ranking tables.

The U.S. News & World Report rankings are based on a set of criteria that include peer assessment, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving. Peer assessment is weighted the heaviest, counting for 25 percent.

The annual rankings are intended to provide a resource for parents and students when choosing colleges. “Our goal is to help equip students and their families to make a knowledgeable decision based on clear, comparative research,” said U.S. News & World Report editor Brian Kelly. The rankings evaluate and compare data compiled from more than 1,400 accredited four-year schools.

A complete summary of the methodology used to rank each school can be found online.

Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest Mennonite college in North America and is known for its academic excellence. For more information, see the Bethel Web site at

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