Best 368 Colleges: 2009 Edition

WALLA WALLA, Wash. – Whitman College starts 2009 as one of the top 50 “Best Value” private colleges in the nation, according to rankings recently released by both the Princeton Review and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.

The Princeton Review’s list is reported in the Jan. 8 print edition of USA Today, and at The Princeton Review and USA Today.

The Princeton Review selected institutions based on its surveys of administrators and students at more than 650 private and public colleges and universities. The selection criteria covered more than 30 factors in three areas: academic program, costs of attendance, and financial aid, using reported data from each institution for the 2007-2008 academic year.

Whitman is one of only two schools in the Northwest to make the Princeton Review’s top 50 “best value” list. Reed College in Oregon also made the list.

In the publication’s narrative profile on Whitman, the Princeton Review’s editors describe Whitman as a “…. well-maintained institution known for its intellectual heft, environmental and political activism, and flexibility in letting students put together a major that suits them, like astronomy-geology.” The editors also noted that Whitman’s “faculty and facilities are excellent, and the Penrose Library gets high marks for being one of the few college libraries open 24 hours a day when school is in session.”

Robert Franek, Princeton Review Vice President-Publisher, noted that the Review has always believed that the most important goal was to help families and students find the “best fit,” but current economic trends put even more pressure on families to find the best value. According to USA Today, Franek also noted that value is about more than cost, “We didn’t want to put schools in the project that just had low sticker prices because that didn’t necessarily mean value.”

“We are delighted that Whitman has been recognized as a Best Value college by the Princeton Review,” said Tony Cabasco, dean of admission and financial aid. “This recognition highlights the investment Whitman has made in ensuring academic excellence, access, and affordability.”

In the Northwest, Whitman was joined only by Reed College in Portland on the Kiplinger’s Top 50 “Best Value” in liberal arts colleges listing.

While Whitman College has been included on these “best value” lists many times, noted Cabasco, it’s especially important and rewarding to be there this year. “This news is very timely, as many students and parents have expressed more concern this year about cost and affordability. Whitman has a tradition of providing a rigorous liberal arts education that emphasizes close interaction with and mentoring by our dedicated faculty while also providing financial aid so that talented students can access a Whitman education regardless of their socioeconomic background.”

Kiplinger’s rankings measure academic quality and affordability, according to the Kiplinger’s Personal Finance site, “with quality accounting for two-thirds of the total.” Data from more than 600 private institutions was obtained from Peterson’s, and then supplemented with additional reporting. The determination as to which list--university or liberal arts college--was made using the Carnegie classification system, which organizes institutions based on the highest level and number of degrees offered. Academic-quality scores and average debt at graduation were used as tie-breakers when needed.

“Whitman’s strength in admission selectivity, graduation rates, financial aid and average debt at graduation obviously contributed to our listing in the Kiplinger’s list of Best Values,” added Cabasco.

CONTACT: Lenel Parish, Whitman College News Service
(509) 527-5156, parishlj@whitman.edu