Sweet Briar among BestValueSchools.com’s ’30 Best Liberal Arts Colleges in the South’

Posted on September 19, 2017 by Janika Carey

Graduates cheer at Commencement 2017
Sweet Briar is listed among the “30 Best Liberal Arts Colleges in the South” in a recent ranking by BestValueSchools.com. The ranking is based on each school’s 20-year return on investment, or ROI.

According to BestValueSchools.com, inclusion on the list is based on national rankings (40 percent), first-year retention rate (20 percent), unique curriculum (30 percent), membership in a college consortium (5 percent) and historical significance (5 percent). To rank the 30 colleges, BestValueSchools.com considered each institution’s average 20-year net return on investment as decided by PayScale. They did not consider the cost of tuition.

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Sweet Briar came in at No. 21 due to its continued “reputation of excellence,” making it “one of the best liberal arts colleges in America,” according to the website.

“Liberal arts colleges are often smaller than research universities, providing the perfect atmosphere in which an ambitious student can excel, form meaningful relationships, and pursue opportunities that might otherwise be unavailable,” the authors note further.

All of that is true at Sweet Briar, where more than 90 percent of students are employed or in graduate school six months out. Average class sizes of just eight students and a student-to-faculty ratio of five-to-one make it easy to get involved and take on leadership roles in and outside the classroom. About eight out of 10 students pursue at least one internship while at Sweet Briar, and nearly 40 percent study abroad.

The result: A return on investment that cannot be measured just in numbers.

The ranking did not yet take into account Sweet Briar’s new curriculum, which is set to take effect in fall 2018. In addition to aligning its more than 40 majors and minors around three “centers of excellence” — as well a leadership core focused on women’s leadership in the 21st century — Sweet Briar also is cutting its tuition by 32 percent. Tuition for 2018-2019, including room and board, will be $34,000.