Western Carolina University once again is ranked as a top university in the South in two categories in the 2018 edition of the U.S. News & World Report “Best Colleges” guidebook.
The recently-released guidebook lists WCU as 13th among “top public regional universities” in the South, the university’s same ranking as the past two years. The publication also places WCU at No. 38 among the “best regional universities” in the South.
The “best regional universities” category in which WCU appears includes 149 public and private higher education institutions that offer a wide range of bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and that tend to attract most of their students from surrounding states. The universities are ranked against their peer group in one of four regions – North, South, Midwest and West.
The annual rankings are based on a variety of indicators, including assessment by administrators at peer institutions, graduation rates, retention of students, faculty resources, average class size, student/faculty ratio, student selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving.
“The U.S. News & World Report recognition helps validate Western Carolina University’s reputation for high academic quality and a community atmosphere that brings out the best in students,” said WCU Chancellor David O. Belcher. “Our faculty and staff have built an environment in which students thrive and where dreams and an individual’s potential are realized.”
Other U.S. News & World Report rankings for WCU include a No. 24 for “best colleges for veterans” among regional southern universities, No. 118 for engineering programs across the nation that do not offer a doctorate, and No. 331 for best undergraduate business programs in the U.S.
The listings come as WCU ― again ― set enrollment records for overall student body and freshman class. The 2017 fall semester tally represents the fifth year out of the past six that WCU has seen enrollment increases, a track record that bucks a national trend of enrollment declines at colleges and universities across the U.S. since 2010. This academic year’s total enrollment of 11,034 comes just four years after the university topped 10,000 for the first time back in 2013. Ten WCU degree programs have added 100 or more students in the past decade.
“The guidebook rankings are a further reflection that WCU is enjoying a period of remarkable momentum,” Belcher said. “Enrollment is soaring, and WCU has become a destination university. Not only are we getting more students, but they are coming to campus better prepared academically to meet the rigors of higher education.”
Amenities such as new and renovated dining facilities and residential and retail space, as well as the beginning of construction for a new natural sciences building, indicate a commitment to maintaining a level of quality that will keep WCU high in the collegiate rankings, said Phil Cauley, assistant vice chancellor for undergraduate enrollment. Beginning next fall, WCU undergraduate students from North Carolina will see their out-of-pocket tuition expenses reduced to $500 per semester through the NC Promise program. Cauley added that it is important to note that costs related to housing, meals and fees will not be affected by NC Promise, so the total cost of attendance for in-state students living on campus will be just over $7,300 a semester, a drop from the current $8,800.
Rankings and guidebooks can serve as a tool in the college search process, but so can campus visits. Open House events are planned for four upcoming Saturdays ― Oct. 7, Nov. 4, Feb. 24 and March 24 ― with weekday campus tours available year-round by appointment for students and their families. Preregistration for Open House and more information are available by going to openhouse.wcu.edu or by calling the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at 828-227-7317 or toll-free 877-928-4968.