Princeton Review profiles UMBC, highlights school’s strengths

UMBC included in Review’s annual 379 Best Colleges latest edition.

Ashby Henningsen

Assistant News Editor

Summary: The Princeton Review selected UMBC as one of the colleges distinguished in its book The 379 Best Colleges: 2015 Edition. As well as providing information on the university, the book noted a number of the university’s strengths, including its students’ academic culture and its emphasis on undergraduate teaching.

In its latest rankings, the Princeton Review distinguished UMBC as one of the United States’ best colleges and universities. The Review profiled UMBC in The 379 Best Colleges: 2015 Edition, which assesses the quality of American colleges and universities based upon surveys of approximately 130,000 undergraduate students.

The 379 Best Colleges evaluates schools based upon eight general categories, including Academics/Administration, Campus life and Extracurriculars. It features notable rankings such as Best Classroom Experience, Best Campus Food and Most Politically Active Students.

The Princeton Review began its 379 Best Colleges in 1992. Although it marks certain schools within specific topics, it does not rank them in numerical order or name a “best” college.

Students from schools profiled by the Review are asked questions on various aspects of their college. These questions range from their school’s academics to its student involvement.

For Vice-Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education Diane Lee, UMBC’s placement among the most recent edition is another indicator of its prominence.

“The number of awards, outstanding rankings and distinctions we have received in recent years, including being named … by the Princeton Review, attests to our place among the best in the nation,” said Lee, “While U.S. News & World Report still considers us the top ‘up-and-coming’ university, I believe we have arrived.”

The Review noted the reputation for academic diligence among UMBC’s students. It quoted an unnamed student as describing UMBC as “‘a place where it is cool to be smart.’” TheReview also noted the emphasis on undergraduate teaching among professors. Another unidentified student surveyed said that “‘this is a university where teaching comes first, followed by research, and it shows.’”

UMBC’s campus diversity was also highlighted in The Review. It described UMBC as

“among the most…diverse research universities in the nation,” noting its students’ varied

ethnic backgrounds.

Junior mathematics major Adam Shelly agreed with this assessment. “Sure, [many] students are commuters,” Shelly said, “but UMBC is the most diverse school I’ve ever seen, with students coming in from all kinds of countries.”

In addition to being named one of the Review’s premier colleges, UMBC was labeled as being one of the nation’s Best Value-Schools for 2014. It was designated among 80 colleges considered high-quality financial bargains for their academics.

Shelly spoke approvingly of the university’s financial value. He expressed his agreement with the high regard for UMBC’s value by the Review.

“For the price, I’d say that it’s quite the good deal. I have friends who are going to college paying $20,000 to $40,000 a semester, while we’re paying around $10,000 for what I believe to be a better education.”

UMBC was additionally ranked among the Best Northeastern Colleges for the year 2014. It was named among such schools as Bucknell University and Princeton University.

Despite all of this, Lee expressed her hopes and expectations for continued improvements for UMBC’s undergraduate experience. These include more Living Learning Communities, more applied learning opportunities in course curricula and a greater focus on the fine arts programs.

“Suffice it to say that I see UMBC continuing to grow and give shape to the honors university experience we promise,” she said.

Shelly expressed a tremendous regard for UMBC, regardless of its standing amidst other universities. “I can honestly say that I wouldn’t change schools,” he said. “I’m loyal to being a Retriever.”