For its annual roundup of top colleges and universities in the country, Washington Monthly magazine takes a different approach to bestowing honors on institutions of higher education. The schools that earn top billing demonstrate their contribution to the public good in three categories: social mobility, research and providing opportunities for public service. In addition, the magazine applauds colleges that help students obtain marketable degrees at affordable prices.
Bridgewater College climbed higher in two rankings lists this year: Best Liberal Arts College and Best Bang for the Buck (Southeast). Colleges named tops in the liberal arts largely focus on educating students in the arts and sciences, as well as show a dedication to providing learning and service opportunities. Student research, one of the main categories in Washington Monthly’s rankings, is a strong focus at Bridgewater. Undergraduates have the opportunity to work alongside faculty on their research projects, as well as complete independent projects of their own. On average, the College has awarded more than $47,000 annually to undergraduate research projects over the last three years. Bridgewater moved up 26 spots this year to 161st nationally for liberal arts colleges.
With the enduring pandemic, affordable, quality education remains top of mind for students and their families. Washington Monthly’s Best Bang for the Buck category focuses primarily on “the unsung heroes of American higher education: colleges with strong regional reputations that serve large numbers of students from low-income families and help them graduate and succeed in the labor market.” In this year’s rankings, Bridgewater rose to 100th on the Best Bang for the Buck (Southeast) list, up 75 spots from last year.
Thirty-two percent of the College’s first-year students in the 2020-21 academic year were Pell-eligible, and Bridgewater continues to develop strategies and implement programs to ensure positive graduation outcomes among this group, including the College’s Eagle Success student peer mentoring program. The College also established two new scholarship programs this year: the Showker Scholars Program and the Career Pioneer Career Development Scholarship Program. The Showker Scholars Scholarship is awarded to five first-generation incoming college students who will develop themselves as effective and ethical leaders through the Zane D. Showker Institute for Responsible Leadership at Bridgewater College. And the Career Pioneer Scholarship engages two first-year students in the Career Services “Four-Year Action Plan” designed to introduce students to activities, events and experiences that enhance their knowledge and exposure to career development processes, training them to lead their peers through Bridgewater’s high-quality career education while capitalizing on those processes themselves. Over the course of four years at BC, award recipients will gain experience that builds career readiness for graduation and beyond.
As a whole, the College’s financial aid assistance is strong, with 99% of students receiving aid. More than $41 million in scholarships and grants was awarded in the 2020-21 academic year, with 75% of first-year students receiving $30,000 or more in scholarship and grant aid packages.
“I am enormously proud of my colleagues and the role they have played in making BC a Best Liberal Arts College and a Best Bang for the Buck in Washington Monthly,” said Bridgewater College Vice President of Enrollment Management Michael Post. “Our faculty and staff go above and beyond every day and are dedicated to student success. We are proud to be an institution that gives talented students from all financial backgrounds the opportunity to pursue a nationally ranked liberal arts college.”
Editor and Director of Media Relations