The Hillsdale Collegian scored fifth-best college newspaper and Hillsdale students’ community-service involvement placed No. 4 in the nation in the Princeton Review’s latest annual Best 384 Colleges survey.
A national survey of college students that collects data on everything from classroom value to student life, the Princeton Review’s 2019 ranking placed Hillsdale within the top 20 colleges in a dozen of 62 categories, including “professors get high marks” and “most accessible professors.”
“The regard students have for the rigor, substance, and beauty of their learning here indicates something of the richness of a Hillsdale education,” Hillsdale College Provost David Whalen said in an email. “Rankings can never capture the reality, and the Princeton lists can have their quirks. But it is heartwarming to see the College appreciated for what it is and for all the efforts that make its work possible.”
The Collegian improved its 2019 ranking from No. 9 in 2017 and No. 7 in 2018.
Maria Servold, assistant director of the Dow Journalism program, said she believes The Collegian’s success is due to the character of Hillsdale’s students.
“Because we have such high-quality students, when those students do journalism, it’s high-quality journalism,” she said. “We’ve had really good student editors. They put in place benchmarks and goals for staff. That’s what inspires the staff to do a good job.”
While it helps inform students and faculty, The Collegian’s primary purpose is to serve as a “teaching tool” for journalism students, said John Miller, director of Hillsdale’s Dow Journalism Program.
“This is a great testament to the hard work of our students in making our newspaper an excellent publication,” Miller said. “It’s wonderful to get the recognition of Princeton Review.”
The ranking for Hillsdale students’ community-service efforts made the biggest jump, from No. 9 last year to No. 4 this year. Associate Dean of Men Jeffery Rogers credits the ever-growing community presence to students hearing about programs by word of mouth.
“I think the GOAL [Great Opportunities for Assistance and Leadership] program leaders have taken the opportunity to engage students,” Rogers said. “The Hillsdale community has a lot of great needs out there. I don’t think you could go to Hillsdale and not see the need, and not want to help.”
Senior Lu Townley, the GOAL program coordinator for the 2017 – 2018 school year, said she attributes the ranking to the GOAL leaders’ passion and hard work that “finally paid off.” As GOAL program director this year, she said she plans to improve marketing and publicity on campus and get every student to volunteer at least once.
Associate Dean of Women Rebekah Dell says the rankings may draw in more students who are passionate about using their time to serve the broader community. This is part of the education outside the classroom that the college promotes, she said.
“It is an exciting result to see because I do see on a regular basis that our students are very interested in investing in the community,” she said.
Junior Celina McGowan says volunteering is beneficial for college students in that it allows them to give back to the community.
“Volunteering is one way students can choose to look outside of themselves and choose to think about the community,” she said.
Beyond that, McGowan says it is important for her faith that she and others care for those with disadvantages.
“There’s a lot of people who have invested in my education,” she said. “It makes sense to me that I should, in turn, both study hard and give those opportunities to other people.”
Though its rankings for professors dropped slightly from last year, Hillsdale remained among the top 20 schools in the nation with the best and most accessible instructors, placing ninth for “professors get high marks” and 16th for “most accessible professors.”
Dell said she hasn’t seen a shift in the student-faculty culture.
“I’m continuing to hear positive things,” Dell said, adding that it is the student experience more than rankings that drives the school, its instructors, and its students.
Hillsdale’s professors provide good role models for the students, McGowan says, adding that they often display good qualities to students both inside and outside the classroom,
“Having these people that you can talk to about a lot of different things in a mild mentorship way is not just important, but I think it’s hard to be a healthy person if you’re just interacting with people your own age all the time,” she said. “To have professors you look up to in their personal life, as well as in their classroom and their office hours, to have that sort of role model is something that really benefits the students of Hillsdale.”
The college’s other top 20 rankings included No. 3 for most conservative students; No. 5 for most religious students; No. 9 for most politically-active students; and No. 16 for “college city gets low marks.”
Rogers says the college’s mission and daily student life don’t change based on its rankings with the Princeton Review, but it’s good to see that recognition.
“It’s a validation of what we’re doing at Hillsdale,” he said. “We don’t need it, but it does speak to [the fact that] wour students are happy.”