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US News & World Report: ASU Among Top Public Universities in South; UNC-Chapel Hill No. 5 in Nation

Sept. 12, 2012. Appalachian State University remains at the No. 3 spot among the top public universities in the South and UNC-Chapel Hill ranked fifth nationally, according to U.S. News and World Report’s 2012 America’s Best Colleges Guide.

ASU is ranked 10th in the South among public and private four-year institutions in this year’s list, and is listed 12th among regional universities in the South in the “Great Schools, Great Prices” category.

UNC ranked in the top five for public universities nationally for the fifth year in a row. Additionally, among both national public and private universities, UNC ranked 30th overall compared with 29th last year and 30th in 2010.

ASU has placed among the top 15 public and private southern universities since the rankings first appeared in 1986.

“For Appalachian to have been selected as one of the best values in public higher education while wrestling with the challenging financial times is a tribute to the commitment of our faculty and staff,” said Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock. “I am honored that again Appalachian has been recognized in this manner.  We have much to be proud of on this campus.”

ASU also is again included in the magazine’s “First-Year Experience,” “Learning Communities,” “A+ Schools for B Students” in the South and the “Up-and-Comers” lists.

The “First-Year Experience” listing includes schools that build into their curriculum first-year seminars or other academic programs that bring small groups of students together with faculty on a regular basis, the magazine reported. ASU is one of 18 schools noted for first-year experience programs and one of 18 schools cited for their learning community programs in which “students take two or more linked courses as a group and get to know one another and their professors well.”

“Appalachian State University is proud to offer a First Year Seminar program in which our entering students are introduced to the intellectual life of the university and rigorously prepared for the academic challenges they will face after their freshmen year,” said Michael Krenn, faculty coordinator of First Year Seminar.

The “A+ Schools for B Students” category is a list of 19 colleges or universities in the South where “where nonsuperstars have a decent shot at being accepted and thriving—where spirit and hard work could make all the difference in admissions offices,” according to the magazine.

The “Up-and-Comers” list includes colleges and universities that were cited most often by college presidents, provosts and admissions administrators asked to identify schools they think have recently made the most promising and innovative changes in the areas of academics, faculty, student life, campus or facilities. ASU is one of six universities included in the regional listing for the South.

As for UNC, other U.S. News rankings included the following:

  • First among national public universities for the eighth consecutive year and 17th overall in “Great Schools, Great Prices,” based on academic quality and net cost of attendance for a student  receiving the average level of need-based financial aid in 2011-2012. Forty-one percent of UNC students received need-based aid in 2011. Carolina meets 100 percent of the documented need of students qualifying for need-based aid who apply on time.
  • A 97 percent average first-year retention rate for the third consecutive year.
  • A 90 percent average six-year graduation rate – 5 percentage points better than U.S. News predicted for the second consecutive year. (UNC’s current four-year rate is nearly 81 percent.)
  • Thirteen percent of course sections enrolled 50 or more students, holding at the same number as last year. That remains the lowest rate among the other top publics for the fifth year in a row. Thirty-three percent of UNC’s course sections enrolled fewer than 20 students, down from 37 percent. Berkeley led the top publics at 64 percent.
  • Dropped 11 spots in faculty resources, ranking 70th overall and fifth among the top publics. UNC was 59th last year, 47th two years ago, 35th three years ago and 50th four years ago. UNC has ranked 70th or lower four times in the past 14 years. This category measures undergraduate class size;  two academic years (2010-11 and 2011-12) of average total faculty compensation (salary and benefits) based on indexes weighted for regional differences; student-faculty ratio; and percentage of faculty who are full time and earned their field’s highest degree.
  • Tied for seventh among the best undergraduate business programs. Kenan-Flagler Business School tied with Texas at Austin and Carnegie Mellon University; marketing tied for fifth among specialty areas.
  • Tied for 13th with Wake Forest University for a “strong commitment to teaching.”
  • Listed among outstanding undergraduate programs with “A Focus on Student Success.” Carolina was cited for exemplary first-year experience (seminars and other programs bringing small groups of students together regularly with faculty and staff), undergraduate research/creative projects, study abroad and service learning.

To view the U.S. News’ Best Colleges Guide, visit colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges?s_cid=related-links:TOP.