The Princeton Review constructs yearly lists based on a survey of more than 120,000 college students attending schools listed in “The Best 378 Colleges” guide. The survey includes 80 questions asking students to rate their own universities and allows the review to be entirely student-run.
There are lists of the Top 20 schools in 62 categories, and Elon is ranked highly in three. The university is ranked above Stanford, Yale, UNC-Chapel Hill, and Vanderbilt in the “best-run” category, a list that Jim Piatt, vice president of university advancement, said is not surprising.
“I think Elon has a great tradition of really effective university management,” Piatt said. “That always starts with a president who is very committed.”
According to Piatt, effective management also starts with great planning, including a yearly university-wide process to build “institutional priorities.”
“We list all the things we are working on for each year,” Piatt said. “When everyone knows what the priorities are, it makes it easier to work toward the same goal.”
Some of the 2013-2014 institutional priorities include a commitment to diversity and global engagement, high levels of academic achievement, enhancing Elon’s campus with new facilities and establishing a tradition of athletic success.
Elon used to rank No. 17 in the “financial aid not-so-great” category, a score Piatt hopes will improve because of an institutional priority that promises a commitment to remain a best-value university.
In 2012, Jim Piatt and the administrators faced a controversy surrounding the Chick-fil-A restaurant located on campus. Campus pride groups protested Elon’s support of a company openly against gay rights.
“During those times, the commitment was to listen to as many voices as we could and to hear what people thought of the situation,” Piatt said.
He said the process “worked its way through” because of open communication, following some misinformation early on.
But the national awards are contributing to a growing competitive pool for applicants.
“Most people still choose to visit colleges based on word of mouth,” Piatt said. “Anytime we get positive national recognition, it reinforces the strong programs and community we have and more people hearing about Elon.”
The Princeton Review notes that Elon applicants should “choose a rigorous high school curriculum and demonstrate leadership savvy.”
Elon students described themselves as “driven and engaged” with “personable and enthusiastic” professors.
The survey gave recognition to Elon’s computer services, the low cost of living and abundant internship opportunities.
This is the 10th consecutive year Elon was a part of the “Best Colleges” guide. “The Best 378 Colleges” is a top-selling university guide that only includes 15 percent of four-year colleges in the United States.