Aerial view of Gainesville campus.

Brenau University makes “Best of” lists from U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review

Sep 14, 2020
Kathryne Davis

Two major ranking outlets — U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review — included Brenau University on their 2021 lists of the best universities in the country.

Brenau jumped the rankings on each of the lists it was on compared to last year in U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 Best Colleges including The Best Regional Universities South, Best Value Schools, Campus Ethnic Diversity, Social Mobility, Economic Diversity and Best Colleges for Veterans.

Specifically, Brenau was top in the state and second in the region in Economic Diversity, as well as tying for first in Georgia in Best Colleges for Veterans. The university also ranked No. 2 in Georgia in Social Mobility and was the top university in the state and tied for sixth overall in Campus Ethnic Diversity. Finally, Brenau was ranked the No. 3 Best Regional University and No. 3 Best Value Schools in Georgia.

“While the transformative impact of a Brenau education is extremely important for our students and their families, it’s also valuable to have third party external validation that ranks us among our peers,” said Brenau President Anne Skleder. “I am especially proud of our rankings in Campus Ethnic Diversity, Social Mobility and Economic Diversity. Many Brenau students are the first in their families to attend college, and many come from underrepresented groups. We know that a college degree transforms the trajectory of the lives of our graduates and their families, and these rankings attest to our commitment to these students. And as the rankings indicate, a Brenau degree also is considered a high value investment.” Skleder added that it’s many of these same attributes that make a Brenau degree so appealing to veterans.

U.S. News uses detailed methodology to create its lists based on years of research, user feedback, literature reviews, data trends and more. There are 17 indicators of academic quality that determine each school’s overall score within each category, including measures Brenau is known to value such as student excellence, small class sizes, reasonable costs and personal attention to individual students.

With a student-to-faculty ratio of 9:1, Brenau is on par with some of the nation’s top universities, including the University of Notre Dame, Cornell University and New York University, to name a few. The university also has a higher percentage of small classes with 84% of its undergraduate classes having fewer than 20 students — and therefore opportunities for meaningful faculty-student interaction — which puts Brenau above Princeton University, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Columbia University, Stanford University and Yale University in individual class size.

“It has been encouraging to see Brenau’s steady progression upwards in the U.S. News & World Report ranking from 57 to 36 over the past four years in The Best Regional Universities South,” said Brenau Provost Jim Eck. “Brenau is one of the leading comprehensive universities within the region, and now our peers are taking greater recognition of our outstanding academic programs in business and communication, education, fine arts and humanities, and health sciences.”

In addition to Brenau’s success on the U.S. News list, the university was named to The Princeton Review’s “Best in the Southeast” section of its 2021 Best Colleges: Region by Region for the 16th consecutive year. The feature placed Brenau in the top 22% of the nation’s four-year colleges throughout the Southeast, Midwest, Northeast, West and internationally.

The methodology for the rankings includes building scores on a scale from 60-99. Brenau excelled due to its high-quality academics with a score of 87. Brenau’s professors also received high praise with an interesting rating of 83 and an accessibility score of 80, while student quality of life scored an 83. Factors in these ratings included how many hours students study outside of the classroom, the quality of students the school attracts, how happy students are with their lives outside of the classroom and more.

“I am delighted, but not surprised, that The Princeton Review recognizes our high-quality academics and that our students rank our faculty accessibility outside of class as high. This is third-party validation of the commitment of our fine Brenau faculty to challenge and support each student,” Skleder said.

Robert Franek, The Princeton Review’s editor-in-chief, noted that the company considered data from its survey of administrators at several hundred colleges in each region, information from staff visits to schools over the years, and the opinions of college counselors and advisors whose perspectives the company solicits.

“We chose Brenau University and the other outstanding institutions on this list primarily for their academics,” Franek said. “We also consider what students enrolled at the schools reported to us on our student survey about their campus experiences.”