I Went to the Nation’s 40th Best College – and So Did You

lu memIt’s Fall, the season of apple picking, pumpkin spice lattes, and of course…college searches and applications.  Being so far removed from this process, one might think it’s a distant memory.  Yet I still remember starting my college search as a high school junior.  Before having casually browsed through the U.S. News & World Report college rankings edition, I had never heard of Lehigh.  But as I flipped through the magazine in an effort to decide the rest of my life, I was lucky enough to stumble upon Lehigh University at number 33.

My criteria for a college were neither stringent nor scientific: it had to be in the top 50 colleges in the nation, have a strong business program, and be two hours or less away from my home in New Jersey.  Like most other academic overachievers in the country, the higher the rank, the more I wanted to matriculate there.  And although Lehigh didn’t rank number one, it met all of my criteria.  So I decided to check it out.

Eight years later, the same college ranking report has dropped my school down to a tie for number forty.  While it still would be on my college search radar if I were looking now, my past self may have discounted it because it was too close to my self-designated cut-off line.  And if I dismissed Lehigh, I would have missed out on more than I could ever know: an amazing education, a scholarship that afforded me the opportunity to travel abroad for the first time, a free fifth year to pursue an additional degree, a rivalry that is fiercer than department store lines at 3 a.m. on Black Friday, and other experiences.

The fact is, it is these experiences that rankings don’t take into consideration.  And we’ve all had experiences at Lehigh that have enriched our lives, both personally and professionally. Yet, according to one source, as much as 25% of a college’s score comes from other schools’ assessment of that college.  That’s one quarter of the weight given to what others have heard about it.

In my opinion, little says more about a college than the involvement of its students after they have left the university.  That’s where we as alumni can step in.  We can create a stronger Lehigh alumni network that is willing and eager to reach out to current students to help them succeed at Lehigh and in the “real world.”  We can act as ambassadors and mentors to those who may be considering attending Lehigh.  Even something as simple as the Lehigh banner hanging in your cubicle can speak volumes to others.

So be proud to be from Lehigh, no matter what others rank it as.  Because we know the unmatched opportunities for growth and success which Lehigh gives to its students.  We know it, and it’s our job to let others know it, too.

– Submitted by Andi Howard-Rein ’11

9 thoughts on “I Went to the Nation’s 40th Best College – and So Did You

  1. Well said! Despite having graduated more than 30 years ago (class of ’83) and living as far away as Texas, I do still try to give back where and when I can. I even make my fair share of Lehigh-Lafayette games, and will be in Yankee Stadium on November 22nd! Lehigh gave me a top notch engineering degree, allowed me to play two sports, and is responsible for some of the best friends I have ever had in my life. I wear my Lehigh shirt proudly in Dallas, and am thrilled to see that others are doing the same!

  2. Who is to say we are 40th best? Let’s think about top 5. Seriously. We do not necessarily have to live by other’s ratings… as always. Something to think about.

    1. Some of our resources *are* top 5… such as land. One thousand six hundred odd for a contiguous campus…? I am not sure we have a match there… and if we do, there are few. Stanford has a huge campus, but I am not sure it is conterminous. There is of course the 800 additional acres that have been donated by Mr. Stabler… which perhaps we should not give away. Although the acreage is not contiguous, it is unknown what potential future value it might have. (Universities are constantly needing land.) Another ‘top’ resource or heritage that we have, being in eastern Penn., is the following: the Dutch Colonial and Moravian settlements, and this in two (different) ways: Architecturally (the former), and culturally/religiously (the latter).

  3. I’m a 1962 graduate of the Business School, Management major. I seem to recall seeing some published survey ranking business schools either during my later prep school years or while I was at Lehigh, that ranked Lehigh in the “Top Ten” business schools.

    Being number 23 doesn’t particularly bother me as I suspect a lot of colleges and universities have added “Business” curriculum’s & degrees over the 50+ years since I graduated, and some may even be good, but I am surprised at #40. Whose survey was it and what were their criteria?

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