Clemson U gets most rankings in 2014 Princeton Review

08/06/2013 10:00 PM

08/06/2013 6:32 PM

South Carolina doesn't have the nation's biggest party school or its most sober student body, but colleges and universities in the state are featured in several other rankings released Monday by the Princeton Review.

The often controversial rankings are part of Princeton Review's 2014 "Best 378 Colleges" guidebook, which boasts categories that rank the best college libraries, the schools with the best financial aid and the schools where you're most likely to find a "Birkenstock-wearing, tree-hugging, Clove-smoking vegetarian."

Wofford College was featured in several rankings and makes regular appearances in the annual publication, but those rankings aren't without controversy this year.

In particular, officials are taking issue with Wofford's inclusion among the "LGBT Unfriendly" schools.

The Spartanburg-based private university is 16th among schools that Princeton Review ranks as unfriendly to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

The ranking comes as a shock, at least one student said, because of recent advances the campus has made in the realm of LGBT issues.

Alex Hubbard, a past co-president of Spectrum, Wofford's gay-straight alliance student organization, said he was surprised Wofford was included in the "unfriendly list."

"I feel like the college has made, in recent years, significant strides," he said.

Hubbard, who graduated earlier this year and now lives in New York, was among the students who petitioned the Board of Trustees to add "sexual orientation" to the school's nondiscrimination policy last year.

He said that change was among several changing the perception of gay and lesbian students at the school.

"It's not the best campus to be at for LGBT students, but it's also not the worst," Hubbard said. "I had a great four years at Wofford."

Laura Corbin, Wofford's director of news services, said the school was "overall" proud of being featured among the top 15 percent of America's 2,500 four-year colleges.

"We're in good company," she said.

But she said school officials were at a loss to explain just what the Princeton Review means by "LGBT Unfriendly."

"We have made a lot of progress in that area," Corbin said. "We're doing a lot of things."

In October, the Wofford Board of Trustees approved the inclusion of "sexual orientation" in the school's nondiscrimination policy and a task force is currently working on other programs to combat possible discrimination.

"We might disagree with that," Corbin said of the "unfriendly" ranking. "Yes, we've got places to go, but so do a lot of schools."

Other rankings for Wofford College include 19th in "Best Science Lab Facilities," 14th in "Future Rotarians and Daughters of the American Revolution" and 13th in "Lots of Greek Life."

Corbin said the science lab ranking was important to the school, which has tried to "remain state of the art."

She also said that Wofford's robust Greek life not only enhances social life, but encourages philanthropic programs.

According to Princeton Review, Wofford students said the school was a "community of learning where individuality, curiosity, and success are fostered every day" in large part thanks to a staff of educators that "challenges students to think and discuss their ideas in every class."

"Every college in our book offers outstanding academics," said Robert Franek, the guide's author and Princeton Review senior vice president and publisher. "We don't rank them academically, 1 to 378, because they differ importantly in their academics, services, and campus culture. That variety is their strength. Our purpose is not to crown one college ‘best' overall, but to give applicants the resources and campus feedback they need to choose, get into, pay for, and graduate with a job from the college that's best for them."

In year's past, Wofford College has ranked high in several categories. In 2009, the school had the best fraternity and sorority scene and in recent years ranked in categories for best health facilities and most popular study abroad program, among others.

Including Wofford, five different South Carolina schools are ranked in the top 20 in 16 of the 62 rankings.

Furman and Clemson are the only other Upstate schools ranked, while the University of South Carolina's main campus and the College of Charleston also make appearances.

Wofford was tied with USC Columbia for the second-most mentions among South Carolina schools with four appearances.

Clemson appeared on eight lists, the most of any South Carolina college.

It was ranked 1st in three categories: "Town-Gown Relations Are Great," "Jock Schools" and "Everyone Plays Intramural Sports."

It was also ranked 11th in "Best Career Services," 7th in "Their Students Love These Colleges," 12th in "Happiest Students," 13th in "Most Conservative Students" and 9th in "Students Pack the Stadiums."

USC Columbia ranked 10th for "Jock Schools" and "Best College Newspaper," 20th in "Students Pack the Stadiums" and 13th in "Best Athletic Facilities."

The other South Carolina rankings include Furman's 5th place ranking for "Little Race/Class Interaction" and the College of Charleston's 12th place ranking for "College City Gets High Marks." Princeton Review is a private education services company that produces test-prep courses and other student resources.

It has released a "Best 378 Colleges" book through Random House publishing annually since 1992 with the latest rankings based on surveys of 126,000 students over the last three school years.

A closer look at some of the Princeton Review rankings "Best Science Lab Facilities" 19. Wofford College "Best Career Services" 11. Clemson University "Their Students Love These Colleges" 7. Clemson University "Little Race/Class Interaction" 5. Furman University "LGBT Unfriendly" 16. Wofford College "Town-Gown Relations Are Great" 1. Clemson University "College City Gets High Marks" 12. College of Charleston "Future Rotarians and Daughters of the American Revolution" 14. Wofford College "Jock Schools" 1. Clemson University 10. University of South Carolina – Columbia "Most Conservative Students" 13. Clemson University "Happiest Students" 12. Clemson University "Everyone Plays Intramural Sports" 1. Clemson University "Students Pack the Stadiums" 9. Clemson University 20. University of South Carolina – Columbia "Best College Newspaper" 10. University of South Carolina – Columbia "Best Athletic Facilities" 13. University of South Carolina – Columbia "Lots of Greek Life" 13. Wofford College

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