For seven consecutive years, U.S. News has asked college presidents, provosts, and admissions deans to nominate up to ten colleges “…worth watching because they are making promising and innovative changes.” The resulting lists, broken down by U.S. News categories, label a handful of colleges as “up-and-coming” in the eyes of those administrators willing to answer the question.
For purposes of college search, this particular survey probes for schools that are evolving in ways that may not be immediately evident to college-bound students and their families. And the various lists are useful in ways that other lists are not because they surface colleges that don’t always come up high in “selectivity” or “prestige.”
For the past several years, the University of Maryland—Baltimore County (UMBC) has topped the national university list, while George Mason University continues to secure a place among the top 14. For the fourth time since the ranking has been published, Roanoke College made the list for up-and-coming liberal arts colleges, at the same time Christopher Newport (#2 South) and James Madison University (#6 South) are listed among up-and-coming “regional” universities.
"I'm pleased to see Roanoke consistently recognized as one of the innovative institutions of higher education," said Roanoke College President Michael Maxey, in a press release. "Progress and steady improvements are a hallmark of the Roanoke College model, both for our students and for the College. Roanoke's faculty and staff are dedicated to our students' success and that makes all the difference."
Like other rankings, the lists of “up-and-coming colleges” should only be used as conversation starters. These are schools that have crept onto the radar of college administrators for some reason and could be interesting options based on innovations in programming or improvements in facilities.
The value of a college’s location on the list is less important than the fact that they’ve made it onto the list at all. In other words, someone somewhere thinks they might offer something new or different.
Here are both the national universities and liberal arts colleges US News lists as ‘up-and-coming’ for 2015 (in alphabetical order):
Arizona State University—Tempe
Franklin and Marshall College
George Mason University
Georgia State University
Indiana University-Purdue University—Indianapolis
Portland State University
St. John’s University, MN
University of Alabama—Birmingham
University of Central Florida
University of Maryland—Baltimore County
University of Southern California