US News & World Report recognizes Wooster for strength in undergraduate research

undergraduate research at Wooster

For more than 20 years, the strength of The College of Wooster’s undergraduate research program has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of best “Senior Capstone” programs and “Undergraduate Research/Creative Projects,” joining the elite company of some of the top research universities in the country, including several Ivy League schools and major R1 institutions. Released Sept. 18, the magazine recognized Wooster in its  “Best Colleges 2024” guidebook as No. 3 for “Senior Capstone” and No. 14 for “Undergraduate Research/Creative projects,” and the College also took a leap up in the rankings for “First-Year Experiences.”

U.S. News bases these rankings on the recommendations of college presidents, chief academic officers, deans of students, and deans of admissions from more than 1,500 schools who choose only 15 institutions for each category. Wooster’s historic record on these lists puts the College in the company of highly recognized institutions such as Princeton, Yale, and Harvard Universities, and it’s the top school in Ohio on both lists.

Independent Study, known to generations of Wooster alumni simply as I.S., is the centerpiece of Wooster’s commitment to mentored research and a badge of distinction for all graduates. Participating in on-on-one mentored research with faculty helps develop independent judgment, creativity, project-management and time-management skills, self-confidence, and strong written and oral communication skills: precisely the abilities prized by employers and graduate schools alike. Wooster graduates frequently talk about bringing up their I.S. projects in professional interviews.

“Through I.S., the entire student body positions itself under faculty guidance as producers of knowledge, experts who push knowledge forward rather than simply as learners,” said Wooster President Anne McCall. “The latest recognition from U.S. News showcases how this model of providing dedicated opportunities to all students, not only a select few, is respected by leaders at colleges across the country.”

Wooster placed highly on several of the publication’s lists, including a leap of 38 positions to No. 27, and as the top school in Ohio, on the list recognizing institution’s “First-Year Experiences,” programs that welcome and make first-year students feel connected on campus through interactions with small groups of students, faculty, and staff on a regular basis. After new Wooster students go through a mentored advising process with teams of peers, staff, and faculty mentors during orientation, they enroll in First-Year Seminar in Critical Inquiry, a required course that focuses on the processes of critical inquiry in a writing-intensive, small seminar. Each seminar invites students to engage a set of issues, questions, or ideas that can be illuminated by the disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives of the liberal arts. Seminars are designed to enhance the intellectual skills essential for liberal learning and for successful participation in the College’s academic programs. Topics for First-Year Seminar courses this year include  “The Forest for the Trees,” taught by Mareike Herrmann, professor of German and Russian studies, considering trees and forests as sustainers of life, communicators, magical symbols in diverse cultures, and also as sites of engagement between human and non-human actors; and “Mathematical Identities: Diverging from the Stereotypes,” which examines the portrayals of mathematical brilliance that are found in the media through readings and films and asks questions about the inclusion and support for gender, racial, and ethnic minorities in the field and is taught by Pam Pierce, professor of mathematics.

Overall, Wooster ranks No. 75 among National Liberal Arts Colleges with multiple ties in the mix, and highly in several other list categories. For “Best Undergraduate Teaching,” Wooster was listed at No. 20, acknowledging the faculty’s commitment to teaching excellence and supporting students. The College was also listed among the top liberal arts schools in the country for “Best Value” at No. 57, up 14 from last year and the top school in Ohio, calculated based on academic quality and net cost of attendance for an out-of-state student who received the average level of need-based financial aid. As a “Top Performer on Social Mobility” at No. 132, the College stands out among other schools for the percentage of graduating students who received Pell Grants—typically those from households with earnings less than $50,000 annually.

Posted in News on September 18, 2023.