College Ranking for the Soul

by Rachel Baker on November 30, 2013

College-bound high school seniors are just about ready to really start looking at the schools they’d like to attend next fall. Here’s a US News and World Report trying to answer the question of whether its possible to ascertain an educational institution’s ability to encourage any level of religious faith.

Christian higher education is big business. About 9 percent of American college students were enrolled in some kind of religious institution as of 2010, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. And while many historically Christian colleges have all but abandoned their religious roots, the smaller group of “intentionally Christ-centered” institutions that belong to the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities currently enroll 400,000 students and counting; another 750,000 students are enrolled at Catholic institutions.

College rankings are big business, too, of course. And even much-criticized lists like U.S. News & World Report’s matter to prospective students more than they used to: A survey published last month by the consulting firm Art & Science found that two-thirds of college-bound students took rankings into consideration when choosing a school. As recently as 2002, only one-fifth of prospective students said they had even read any such lists. Despite the hand-wringing over their effect on college costs and over-inflated application pools, rankings are here to stay.

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