Lyon College in top tier of U.S. News rankings for sixth consecutive year

Lyon College is ranked in the top tier of the best national liberal arts colleges for the sixth year in a row, according to the 2013 edition of U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges guidebook. Lyon also made the list of colleges whose studentsgraduated with the least debt load.

The Princeton Review also recently recognized Lyon as a “Best Southeastern College” in its annual report for the eighth consecutive year and Lyon is included in’s “America’s Best Colleges” ranking. In August, Washington Monthly magazine’s annual College Guide named Lyon to its list of the nation’s most socially beneficial liberal arts colleges.”

“The quality and value of a Lyon College education has once again been validated by these national rankings of the best colleges in America,” said Dr. Donald Weatherman, president of Lyon. “This is a tribute to the dedicated faculty, staff, and the Board of Trustees, who support our mission of providing the best education possible for our students.”

U.S. News categorizes the 1,391 ranked colleges by mission and — for regional institutions — by region. According to U.S. News, the national liberal arts colleges “emphasize undergraduate education and award at least half their degrees in the arts and sciences.” In Arkansas, only Lyon, Hendrix College and Ouachita Baptist University are included in this category.

U.S. News also ranks national universities, which offer a full range of undergraduate majors, plus master’s and Ph.D. degrees, and emphasize faculty research; regional universities, which offer undergraduate degrees and some master’s programs but few, if any, doctoral programs; and regional colleges, which focus on undergraduate education but grant fewer than 50 percent of their degrees inliberal arts disciplines. These last two categories are further classified by geographic region.

U.S. News also compiled a list of schools whose Class of 2011 graduated with the heaviest and lightest debt loads. The data include loans taken out by students from their colleges, from private financial institutions, and from federal, state, and local governments. Loans to parents are not included. Lyon made the list of 26 national liberal arts colleges whose students owed the least amount of money upon graduation.

According to U.S. News, 44 percent of Lyon graduates were debt free, while 56 percentowed money when they graduated. The average amount of debt for Lyon’s 2011 graduates was $17,092, U.S. News said. The college whose graduates had the “most debt” was Burlington College in Vermont. U.S. News said 90 percent of its graduates owed money and their average debt was $55,240. Lyon is the only Arkansas college or university on the “Least Debt” list.

Among the factors weighed in determining the Best Colleges rankings, the key measures of quality for national universities and national liberal arts colleges are: undergraduate academicreputation, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, alumni giving, high school counselor ratings, and graduation rate performance.

The data collected from the survey of counselors was combined with that obtained from a survey of college presidents, provosts and deans to calculate the “undergraduate academic reputation index,” which replaced the “peer assessment” factor used in previous years.

The 2013 edition of U.S. News’ Best Colleges guidebook goes on sale Sept. 18. The rankings are posted today on