Adrian College named College of Distinction in 20-year anniversary cohort

Adrian College has once again been recognized for its honorable commitment to engaged, experiential education by Colleges of Distinction, which is celebrating its 20-year anniversary as a one-of-a-kind guide for college-bound students. Colleges of Distinction boasts its longstanding support for student-centered schools that traditional rankings often overlook. As an institution whose primary goals are based on student success and satisfaction, Adrian College confirms its honor as one of the renowned Colleges of Distinction.

Founder Wes Creel traces Colleges of Distinction’s beginnings back to when he was helping his eldest daughter search for schools. The institutions that dominated the rankings were drowning out all the others, and not speaking to what the student experience would be like. He then created Colleges of Distinction to draw more attention to schools like Adrian College, whose student-centered education prevails in applying theory to practice while fostering a dynamic learning community.

“Adrian’s designation, as a College of Distinction, is richly rewarding. Clearly, it recognizes the depth of the College’s programming and reaffirms a consistent commitment to student engagement,” Dr. Frank Hribar, vice president for enrollment and student affairs, said of the announcement. “We understand that this engagement is vital to our students’ success in the attainment of their degrees. This recognition demonstrates our commitment to assuring that each of our students ultimately achieves their personal, academic and professional goals.”

While higher education has changed over the last 20 years, Colleges of Distinction’s selection process has stayed consistent — conducting in-depth research and detailed interviews with the schools themselves about each institution’s freshman experience and retention efforts alongside its general education programs, career development, strategic plan, student satisfaction, and more — and accepting only those that adhere to the Four Distinctions: Engaged Students, Great Teaching, Vibrant Community, and Successful Outcomes. Overlaid in the last few years have been a look into High-Impact Practices. This model prioritizes the opportunities institutions have for students that make for a fulfilling, individualized college experience.

“Each school is different, just as every student is different,” said Creel. “There is no number-one college for everyone, so we never rank those in our cohort.”

Adrian College’s inclusion is informed by the unique ways it commits to achieving success.

Creel and his colleagues found that the most pervasive rankings systems rely on metrics like peer reputation, size of endowment, and alumni salaries. They knew instead that most critical to the student experience were the kinds of engaging experiences that are found at Adrian College: first-year seminars, community-based learning programs, service-learning programs, alternative Spring Breaks, diversity and global learning programs, intensive language programs, intensive writing courses, interdisciplinary programs, collaborative assignments and projects, undergraduate research, living-learning communities, common intellectual experiences, capstone projects, study abroad programs and internships.

Creel continued, “It’s inspiring to see Adrian College commit to the learning styles and community involvement that will best allow their students to thrive.”

In recent years, Adrian College has experienced momentous growth, garnering national recognition. In its 2020 edition of America’s Best Colleges, U.S. News & World Report ranked Adrian College as a “Best Regional College in the Midwest.” The institution was also voted a “Most Innovative School” a “Best Value School” and a top “First-Year Experience” college. Adrian College was ranked fourth in “Best Undergraduate Teaching.”

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