Area institutions of higher learning James Madison University and Bridgewater College recently earned some high rankings on lists of best colleges from The Princeton Review, Registerednursing.org and Kiplinger, according to Daily News-Record reports.
These assessments come from the strength of programs, academic offerings, student-to-faculty ratios and even food, according to the articles.
The recognition is nice and it’s helpful to know where local options stand, but these rankings also serve as a reminder of the rich educational hub that is our community.
JMU, Bridgewater College, Eastern Mennonite University and Blue Ridge Community College make up the landscape of higher education in our section of the Valley. Each has its own appeal, offerings and potential impact on students and the community — making them all valuable institutions in the area.
In a recent address to the area Chamber of Commerce, EMU’s President Susan Schultz Huxman said the school’s graduating students came from near and far. From Indonesia, China, Afghanistan, Brazil, Palestine, Canada, Ethiopia, Korea, New Zealand and Thailand around the globe and in the U.S. from places like Oregon, Texas, Minnesota and many students “from right here in the area.”
“As vibrant higher ed institutions, all four of us share common cause with the Chamber,” Huxman said. “Our business model, like the Chamber’s, is built on four principles: ‘Leading, advocating, networking and promoting.’ ”
Being surrounded by these schools gives us the opportunity to welcome students, professors and visitors from all over the country and world as well as be on the cutting edge of advancements in fields from math and science to criminal justice.
Are there downsides to living in a “college town?” Sure. There’s traffic, congestion, housing issues and certain areas can become inconveniently campus-centric. We can acknowledge the problems and do our best to fix them through communication, local legislation and civic engagement, while remembering how valuable these institutions can be.
Being a hub of education offers options to our own sons and daughters who want to have access to higher learning — whether through a Ph.D. or a technical degree. It also brings some of the best and brightest from around the world our way that might not have found us otherwise — and gives an opportunity for our own best and brightest to rise up.