The Princeton Review ranked Hillsdale College in its 2019 annual rankings. | Wiki­media Commons

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.”