Warren Wilson College and UNC Asheville named among The Princeton Review’s “Best 381 Colleges”

Cover of The Princeton's Review 2017 “Best 381 Colleges” book. Courtesy of The Princeton Review

Press release from Warren Wilson College:

Brian Wuertz ’18, biology professor Alisa Hove and Savannah Stark ’16 at work in the genetics lab at Warren Wilson, one of The Princeton Review’s “Best 381 Colleges.” Photo by Reggie Tidwell/Warren Wilson College
Brian Wuertz ’18, biology professor Alisa Hove and Savannah Stark ’16 at work in the genetics lab at Warren Wilson, one of The Princeton Review’s “Best 381 Colleges.” Photo by Reggie Tidwell/Warren Wilson College

Each year, more than 2,500 four-year institutions seek to make their case to high schoolers in hopes of influencing their answer to one question—“where am I going to college?” While it may seem impossible to get an unbiased opinion about a college or university, independent organizations, like The Princeton Review, are tapping into campus culture and providing a clear collegiate picture through student surveys.

Since 1992, The Princeton Review has identified the nation’s finest centers of higher learning in its annual “Best Colleges” book. Based on its students’ individual responses to 80 survey questions, Warren Wilson College is one of the nation’s top institutions for undergraduate education, according to The Princeton Review. The College makes the 2017 “Best 381 Colleges” list alongside Columbia University, Duke University, Harvard University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of South Carolina.

“Warren Wilson College continues to offer students a rigorous academic curriculum combined with the chance to apply their new knowledge in an experiential learning environment,” said Warren Wilson College President Steve Solnick. “Scholarship enhanced through applied learning – on-campus work and engagement in the community through service – helps set a bar that organizations like The Princeton Review recognize among the most transformative schools in the United States.”

Solnick’s comments are echoed by The Princeton Review’s senior VP-publisher. “Warren Wilson College’s outstanding academics are the chief reason we chose it for this book, and we strongly recommend it to applicants,” said Robert Franek, who is also the author of the “Best 381 Colleges” book.

While being part of the upper 15 percent of America’s four-year institutions is significant, student respondents provide even more insight. As in previous years, The Princeton Review identified the top schools for various categories based on student answers to the survey questions.

For example, students were asked if College community members “treat all persons equally regardless of their sexual orientations and gender identity/expression?” The responses placed Warren Wilson College third on the list of 20 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ)-friendly schools for 2017. The Asheville campus was one of two southern colleges and the only one in North Carolina included in the rankings.

In a nod to the community engagement requirement, which has been in place since 1959, students propelled Warren Wilson to No. 13 on the list of schools “most engaged in community service.” In a given year, undergraduates collectively contribute more than 50,000 hours of service to 255 community partners. Other schools in the top 20 service-related list include Tulane University, Boston College, Loyola Marymount University and the United States Naval Academy.

“[Before] coming here, I had never been engaged on this level with the community,” said Tayla Clark, a junior and member of the Community Engagement Center work crew. Through service, she was better able to connect to the area and “help people in [her] community.”

Being recognized for inclusiveness and engagement in the community through service by The Princeton Review is a point of pride for Janelle Holmboe, vice president for enrollment. These are some of the qualities she seeks in new students.

Tayla Clark '18, left, and Emma Noel '18 clean and restock shelves at Loving Food Resources during Service Day. Warren Wilson College is No. 13 on The Princeton Review's list of schools “most engaged in community service.” Photo by Jason Faulds/Warren Wilson College
Tayla Clark ’18, left, and Emma Noel ’18 clean and restock shelves at Loving Food Resources during Service Day. Warren Wilson College is No. 13 on The Princeton Review’s list of schools “most engaged in community service.” Photo by Jason Faulds/Warren Wilson College

“We champion these two areas, among others,” Holmboe said. “We are known as a place dedicated to providing a well-rounded education for everyone. As a liberal arts college, Warren Wilson must provide a forum for people of all walks of life to engage with, learn from and care for their fellow citizens. This is a story we often share, but it’s invigorating to have it verified by an organization like The Princeton Review.”

Undergraduate voices are also heard through the “survey says” sidebar included with the book’s profile on the College. There, The Princeton Review lists the topics that create the most agreement between students. According to their survey answers, students indicate they are “happy,” “environmentally aware” and fond of the Asheville area.

“I really like [living in a] small community,” said junior biology major Emma Noel. “I like feeling connected to the people around me. That’s also a big thing in the classroom; I like having a relationship with my [professor]. So, Warren Wilson was the one.”

The lists in the 25th “Best Colleges” edition, which is on sale now, are entirely based on The Princeton Review’s survey of 143,000 students attending the colleges. The survey asks students to rate their schools on several topics and report on their campus experiences. Topics range from their assessments of their professors as teachers to opinions about their school’s library, career services and student body’s political leanings.

Through its website, The Princeton Review presents additional lists and rankings not found in the 2017 “Best Colleges” book. The site includes Warren Wilson in the “Best Southeastern” schools list, making it one of 76 to also be listed among the “Best 381 Colleges” in the nation. The College also ranks No. 17 in the 2015 “Guide to 353 Green Colleges,” which is the highest position of any southern institution.

For more information, visit http://princetonreview.com/best381.

Press release from UNC Asheville:

UNC Asheville Students. Photo courtesy of UNCA
UNC Asheville Students. Photo courtesy of UNCA

UNC Asheville, named in February by The Princeton Review as the nation’s top school “for making an impact,” is also featured in 2017 edition of The Best 381 Colleges, released today by the same publisher. The Princeton Review’s best 381 colleges and universities were selected primarily based on academic strength, from more than 2,000 on which data are collected. The descriptions of each college in the guidebook are based on a survey of 143,000 students who provide candid assessments of their schools.

One UNC Asheville student told The Princeton Review that the university is dedicated to “giving students a very diverse education and experience while still emphasizing a focus on [their] areas of interest.” Another quoted in The Best 381 Colleges said that UNC Asheville is “all about creating a positive, creative and open learning community to prepare students to be socially aware, productive members of society.”

UNC Asheville professors, according to students quoted, are “incredibly smart, kind and compassionate,” and the “small liberal arts atmosphere ensures that every student who wants to has the opportunity to create relationships with professors and get research and internship opportunities that would be more exclusive at other schools.”

Students told The Princeton Review that while outdoor recreation in the nearby mountains, rivers and national forests are an important part of student life, one notable thing about campus culture is that there isn’t just one thing. “There are so many diverse clubs I couldn’t list them all. There isn’t really one big thing that everyone is interested in,” said one student quoted in The Best 381 Colleges. “Conformity is not a word that will come to mind at UNCA,” said another. Students described their peers as “fun, quirky, open-minded, adventurous, nature and peace-loving, and cognizant.”

UNC Asheville received an overall “quality of life” rating of 94 (scale maximum is 99), with students noting that Asheville “has so much to offer downtown and the food, especially, is amazing.”

UNC Asheville’s national top ranking for “Best Schools for Making an Impact” came in The Princeton Review’s February 2016 college guidebook, Colleges that Pay You Back. The university also is ranked as one of the nation’s top public liberal arts colleges, listed eight nationally by U.S. News and World Report. Kiplinger’s Personal Finance calls UNC Asheville a “Best College Value,” and Fiske Guide to Colleges names the university a “Best Buy.”

For more information, visit unca.edu/facts-and-figures.

About Able Allen
Able studied political science and history at Warren Wilson College. He enjoys travel, dance, games, theater, blacksmithing and the great outdoors. Follow me @AbleLAllen

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4 thoughts on “Warren Wilson College and UNC Asheville named among The Princeton Review’s “Best 381 Colleges”

  1. Your Bestie

    WWC slipped down the rankings in both LGBTQ-friendly and most liberal students, their main selling points. Not surprising. Steve Solnick is asleep at the wheel while enrollment continues to plummet as well as the budget. Just in the last few weeks we’ve had some major people leave the school – Steve will make up some grand story to divert attention and then pull the wool over the trustees eyes.. And they’ll believe him. The board itself should be fired for allowing it to get so bad that people took major salary cuts. But guess what? No one on that board has the nerve, experience or intelligence to do ANYTHING ABOUT IT. The bad news is going to come, people, and it will be as bad as many of us know it is.

    • Bright

      You are correct! I have family who graduated from Wilson. It’s taking a downward spiral. Sad seeing it, but what can you expect when you “overbook” a town or a college…obviously not much. Big front, big back.


      I, too, have heard about the constant problems at WW. The head of the board Bill Christy is in our community and well respected by all. I suggest to everyone that he could be a person of reason on these problems and reach out to him as necessary. His website is:


  2. Funtogun

    The trustees are there for a resume line, people. The faculty needs to do their vote of no-confidence in the so called “dictator president”, like it was planned. No one in that place should ever Trust Paula. Not in a million years.

    If you all aren’t willing to stand up and vote this guy out, then quit and go work at Subway.

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