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UCSB, Westmont Rank Among Top Schools in the Nation

UCSB is listed as No. 44 out of 262 schools in the national college category; Westmont is 111 out of 265 liberal arts colleges.

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U.S. News & World Report‘s “America’s Best Colleges” issue has ranked Westmont College 111 out of 265 in the category of liberal arts colleges. (Westmont College photo)

UCSB and Westmont College are among the highest-ranked schools in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report‘s annual “America’s Best Colleges” issue.

UCSB was 44 out of 262 schools ranked by the magazine in the national college category, which, according to the magazine, “offer a full range of undergraduate majors, master’s and doctoral degrees. These colleges also are committed to producing groundbreaking research.”

The university ties with two other University of California schools in its ranking, UC Irvine and UC Davis. UC Berkeley came in 21st, scoring the highest out of the schools in the UC system.

“We’re happy to be in the top 50 national colleges,” UCSB Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas said. “But it’s always a competition, and we’re always looking for ways to improve our standings.”

While its ranking hasn’t changed since last year among all national universities, UCSB rose one level among the top 50 public universities from 13 to 12. The magazine’s statistical tables showed improvements in UCSB’s scores in several areas, including graduation and retention rates, financial resources, faculty resources and alumni giving.

According to Lucas, one of the things the university intends to improve are its resources, which, in California’s economy, would be no small feat.

“In the tough budget climate, state and UC, we’ll be looking at ways of supplementing our budget with larger fundraising or other forms of revenue,” Lucas said.

In the category of liberal arts colleges, which, according to the magazine, “emphasize undergraduate education and award at least half of their degrees in the liberal arts fields of study,” Westmont College ranked 111 out of 265, keeping its status as a Tier 1 school.

Westmont is tied with three others in this category: Goucher College in Maryland, Lyon College in Arizona and Ohio Wesleyan University.

Given the fierce competition, history, tradition and wealth of other liberal arts colleges, said Joyce Lu, the school’s dean of admissions, “It’s a privilege and an honor for a young college such as Westmont to be ranked so high.”

“It’s not a perfect ranking system, though, and I encourage students, parents and counselors not to base their college choice solely on this,” she said, suggesting other intangibles such as potential relationships with faculty, spiritual development and community involvement. 

While the college’s rank fell from 106, tied with 10 other schools last year, its overall score increased, with improvement in peer assessment, percentage of classes under 20, percentage of full-time faculty, SAT test scores and acceptance rate.

Westmont is one of eight California liberal arts colleges in the first tier.

Noozhawk staff writer Sonia Fernandez can be reached at [email protected]

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