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Bethel is only Kansas private college in new ranking

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College is the only private college in Kansas and one of only three institutions of higher education in the state to be ranked in a new survey by Forbes.com.

Even as U.S. News & World Report was releasing its yearly survey of “America’s Best Colleges,” Forbes.com published the first of what it intends to be an annual analysis. Out of the 569 U.S. colleges and universities ranked, Bethel College placed #303, just behind the University of Kansas at #280 and ahead of Kansas State University at #504.

Bethel is also one of only two Mennonite Church USA colleges to be ranked by Forbes.com. Goshen (Ind.) College made the list at #159. Anabaptist-affiliated Messiah College in Grantham, Pa., listed at #357.

Forbes.com compiled its list in conjunction with Richard Vedder, an economist at Ohio University, and the Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP).

The methodology used tried “to put itself in a student’s shoes” by posing questions a prospective student might ask, such as: How good will my professors be? Will the school help me achieve notable career success? If I have to borrow to pay for college, how deeply will I go into debt? What are the chances I will graduate in four years? Are students and faculty recognized nationally, or even globally?

To answer these questions, CCAP staff (mostly college students themselves) gathered data from several sources. They based 25 percent of the rankings on 7 million student evaluations of courses and instructors, as recorded on the Web site RateMyProfessors.com. Another 25 percent depended on how many alumni, adjusted for enrollment, appear in Who’s Who in America.

The other half of the ranking is based equally on the average amount of student debt at graduation held by those who borrowed; the percentage of students graduating in four years; and the number of students or faculty, adjusted for enrollment, who have won nationally competitive awards such as Rhodes Scholarships.

“Bethel College is pleased to receive outside recognition of our strength and value,” said President Barry C. Bartel. “Our distinctive residential environment prepares students well for a complex world.”

The complete report is available at www.forbes.com/2008/08/13/best-colleges-ratings-oped-college08-cx_ha_mn_de_0813best_land.html.

In the U.S. News & World Report survey for 2009, Bethel moves to the fourth tier of “Best Liberal Arts Colleges,” defined as those that focus almost exclusively on undergraduate education, awarding at least 50 percent of degrees in the arts and sciences. The 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.

Bethel is one of only four Kansas colleges listed in the “Best Liberal Arts Colleges” category and one of three MC USA colleges in that category. For more information, see www.usnews.com/articles/education/best-colleges/2008/08/21/about-the-rankingsmethodology.html.

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 www.bethelks.edu.

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