By Richard Burnett
Boosted by the strongest accolades to date for its programs, Beacon College has cracked the top 10 for the first time in the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings of the Best Regional Colleges in the South.
Beacon ranked No. 10 out of 132 small Southern colleges evaluated for the annual survey, considered the flagship of U.S. college rankings. It was the third straight year Beacon has landed in the top tier in that category. Last year, the school ranked No. 35.
This year, among other factors, experts cited its positive student-faculty ratio, low class sizes, effective learning accommodations and robust degree programs designed for neurodivergent students primarily with learning disabilities and ADHD. Beacon is America’s first accredited baccalaureate school dedicated to educating neurodivergent students.
“For collegians who learn differently, Beacon’s mission and multi-modal instructional focus have proven consequential,” U.S. News said. “The college’s student outcomes are unduplicated in measures of four-year graduation, undergraduate retention, post-degree employment and advanced study.”
A community-shared accomplishment
Beacon officials said the latest ranking is another validation of the college’s growing reputation among all accredited colleges and universities — a recognition that is shared across the entire Beacon community.
“The accomplishment of Beacon College’s placement in the top 10 verifies the hard work of Beacon students and the tireless commitment of our faculty and staff to their success,” said Dr. Shelly Chandler, Beacon provost. “Our outcomes are a result of the determination and perseverance of the entire community.”
Overall, the U.S. News rankings evaluate 1,500 colleges and universities on up to 17 measures of academic quality to provide a guide for prospective students and their families.
“For nearly 40 years, the Best Colleges methodology has continuously evolved to reflect changes in the higher education landscape and the interests of prospective students,” U.S. News’ Editor & Chief Content Officer Kim Castro said, in a statement. “Guiding that evolution is U.S. News’ mission of providing useful data and information to help with one of life’s biggest decisions.”
Rising in other surveys
Beacon also has received plaudits from other players in the college rankings field. The school ranked first in three nationally known surveys recognizing the top colleges for students with learning disabilities: Peterson’s Guide, Best Value Schools, and Gradehacker.com. It also ranked No. 4 in Best Choice Schools’ survey recognizing the most affordable colleges with high four-year graduation rates.
In general, there are some “truly phenomenal colleges for students with learning disabilities across the United States,” according to a recent report by Quad Education Group, a college admissions consulting firm, which does its own survey.
“The amazing Beacon College is at the top of this list,” wrote Mary Banks, director of admissions consulting for the Colorado-based firm. “Unlike other schools, which may offer programs and other accommodations in addition to their regular programs, Beacon College is solely intended for students with learning disabilities. Every part of the learning process at Beacon is based around supporting the needs of students who need it most!!”
Spark Admissions, another college admissions consulting firm, listed Beacon among the top ten colleges for students with learning differences, along with major institutions like American University, Northeastern University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“If you’re looking for a small school with a big impact, Beacon College Florida is a good candidate,” Spark Admissions wrote.
‘Big impact on students’ lives’
Among other accolades:
Prepscholar.com — a provider of college information, tutoring and other academic services — recognized Beacon as one of only two colleges nationwide that cater exclusively to students with learning differences.
Bestcolleges.com ranked Beacon the No. 2 best private college or university in Florida, No. 10 overall among best bachelor’s degree programs in Florida and No. 9 in associate degree programs.
“Beacon College is an exceptional school for those who have a learning or a physical disability,” Beacon alumnus Adriyan Scipio (Class of 2014) told Cappex.com, a college admissions site that named Beacon among the top business degree programs in Florida. “The teachers are really devoted to helping you succeed in every task that is set before you. Although it is a small school, it has a big impact on students’ lives.”