UNC Asheville Named a “Best Buy” in Fiske Guide to Colleges 2018; Environmental Studies Program Cited for Strength in Career Preparation

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two students examining plants in the forest

UNC Asheville has been named to the very select list of “Best Buy” universities in Fiske Guide to Colleges 2018, released on July 11. The guide, created by former New York Times education editor Edward Fiske, calls UNC Asheville “one of the best educational bargains in the country.” Additionally, for the 14th consecutive year, UNC Asheville's Environmental Studies Program was named to the guide's list of pre-professional programs with unusual strength in preparing students for careers.

Fiske Best Buy 2018 graphicCovering schools in the U.S., Canada and the U.K, the 2017 Fiske Best Buy list includes only 20 public and 18 private colleges and universities. Joining UNC Asheville on this exclusive list are only four other North Carolina schools: UNC-Chapel Hill, N.C. State University, Guilford College and Warren Wilson College.

“Our approach to the public liberal arts at UNC Asheville – the focus on hands-on learning, undergraduate research mentored by professors, and small-class discussion rather than lecture – makes for a great student experience, and it is gratifying to see that recognized in the Fiske guide,” said Steve McKellips, UNC Asheville’s senior director for admissions and financial aid. “We are celebrating UNC Asheville’s 90th anniversary this year, and as we continue to build upon that tradition of excellence through close personal attention with our students, we place affordability as one of our key priorities, reinforcing our ‘Best Buy’ status with new scholarships in chemistry, atmospheric sciences and computer sciences.”

“Everyone who works here is dedicated to the student experience in some way. That means you won’t be a number,” said a student quoted in the Fiske guide. As the guide put it, “all the ingredients for a superior college experience lie in wait at Asheville: strong academics, dedicated professors, and an administration that continues to push for excellence.”

A student double-majoring in French and political science told the Fiske guide that, “Our faculty’s mentorship and close relationships are especially evident in undergraduate research.” And the Fiske guide agreed, noting, “Research is indeed a key emphasis here: Asheville founded the National Conference on Undergraduate Research and has hosted the conference five times, most recently bringing 4,000 scholars to campus in 2016.”

“Students can take advantage of Asheville’s strengths as a global source of information for weather forecasting and as a center of digital imaging, and, of course, fine arts and studio crafts,” said the Fiske guide. “The university continues to integrate experiential learning into its traditional curriculum, emphasizing internships and service-learning experiences.”

Fiske notes that UNC Asheville also helps students take advantage of the Asheville area’s natural beauty. “The college is surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Smokies, where students can hike and rock climb; water buffs can go rafting and kayaking on nearby rivers. Preorientation wilderness trips help build friendships among freshmen.”

In sum, according to the Fiske guide, UNC Asheville “offers all of the perks that are generally associated with pricier private institutions: rigorous academics, small classes, and a beautiful setting. And it does it for a fraction of the cost.”

UNC Asheville is achieving similar success in other important rankings. U.S. News & World Report rates UNC Asheville eighth in the nation among public liberal arts colleges. The university was named “Green University of the Year” by the Sierra Club of Western North Carolina, and it has been designated a 2017 Military Friendly® School by Victory Media. UNC Asheville is listed in the Princeton Review’s guides to green colleges and best colleges, and is ranked as a “best value” by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance