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Bethel one of only three Kansas schools in Forbes.com listing

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – For the second year, 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 Forbes.com analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States.

Forbes.com published its second annual listing just ahead of U.S. News & World Report’s release of its yearly survey of “America’s Best Colleges.” Staff at Forbes magazine and the Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP) compiled the report, which ranks 600 undergraduate institutions based on the quality of the education they provide, the experience of the students and how much they achieve.

In addition to Bethel, Kansas schools appearing in the Forbes.com listing are the University of Kansas and Kansas State University. Bethel is also one of only two Mennonite Church USA-affiliated colleges to be ranked by Forbes.com, joining Goshen (Ind.) College.

Writing for Forbes and the CCAP, Richard Vedder and David M. Ewalt said, “To our way of thinking, a good college is one that meets student needs. While some college rankings are based partly on school reputation as evaluated by college administrators and on the amount of money spent, we focus on things which directly concern incoming students: Will my courses be interesting and rewarding? Will I get a good job after I graduate? Is it likely I will graduate in four years? Will I incur a ton of debt getting my degree?”

To answer these and other questions, CCAP staff gathered data from a variety of sources. They based 25 percent of the rankings on 4 million student evaluations of courses and instructors as recorded on the Web site RateMyProfessors.com; another 25 percent on post-graduate success, determined equally by enrollment-adjusted entries in Who’s Who in America and by a new metric: the average salaries of graduates reported by Payscale.com; and an additional 20 percent on the estimated average student debt after four years.

One-sixth of the rankings are based on four-year college graduation rates – the actual graduation rate in addition to the gap between the average rate and a predicted rate based on characteristics of the school. The last component is based on the number of students or faculty (adjusted for enrollment) who have won nationally competitive awards like Rhodes Scholarships or Nobel Prizes.

In the U.S. News & World Report survey, Bethel moved up, from the fourth to the third 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 2010 U.S. News rankings examine how more than 1,400 accredited four-year schools compare on a set of 15 widely accepted indicators of excellence, with the key measures being: peer assessment, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, alumni giving and graduation rate performance (for “National Universities” and “Liberal Arts Colleges”).

“We are pleased that the strength and value of the Bethel Experience has once again received outside recognition,” said Bethel interim president John K. Sheriff.

The complete Forbes.com report can be accessed at www.forbes.com/2009/08/02/best-colleges-ratings-opinions-ranking-2009_land.html. For more information on U.S. News & World Report’s rankings or to see a complete list of colleges and universities, go to www.usnews.com/colleges.

Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see the Bethel Web site at www.bethelks.edu.

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