Sep 19, 2014

Where to find ‘A+ schools for B students’

St. Mary's College of Maryland
A useful resource found deep within the pages of the soon-to-be-released US News “Best Colleges” guide is a starter list of “A-Plus Schools for B Students.”

While attention inevitably flows to the main rankings attraction, US News annually produces a report designed to highlight colleges offering great academics for students with less-than-perfect high school records.  

In the past, lists were collected by US News from specialists all over the country and patterns emerged based on the collective wisdom of those who routinely advise B and C students on the admissions process. 

These are folks who care about admissibility, supportive services, creative programming, freshmen retention, and graduation—all within the context of basic affordability.  They’re less concerned with rankings or prestige, which runs directly counter to the US News message.

Nevertheless, the list US News generates each year represents a good jumping off point for students at a loss for where to begin to find colleges less concerned with the past and more focused on the future.

According to published methodology, schools eventually making it onto lists of schools for B students must report a freshman retention rate of at least 75 percent.  They also had to admit a “meaningful proportion students who didn’t get straight A’s.” 

The latter computation is a little fuzzy because average GPA’s and standardized test scores don’t provide a complete picture and aren't necessarily comparable or accurate.  Nevertheless, freshmen from these schools were not so much from the top 10 percent of their high school classes as they were from the top 25 percent (more specific screening criteria are provided on the US News website).

The suggestion that these schools may be “ranked” seems a little ridiculous, but US News gives it a try.  Still the fact that a school made it onto one of the lists means it may be worth investigating if you’re looking for colleges that respect and welcome the “B” student.

Local national universities that made the cut were American University, George Mason University, UMBC, and Virginia Commonwealth University. Liberal arts colleges included VMI, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, Goucher ,Washington College, McDaniel College, and Roanoke College, while local regional universities included Loyola University of Maryland, Towson University, Salisbury University, James Madison University, University of Mary Washington, and Christopher Newport University.

Here are some additional colleges and universities US News names in the 2015 “A-Plus Schools for B students” (in alphabetical order):
For more suggestions of colleges and universities that accept a significant number of solid students without perfect transcripts, visit the US News website.

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