Bobby McCree III
(Rock Hill, S.C.) – Winthrop University is ranked No. 8 out of 61 on Niche.com’s list of Best Colleges in South Carolina for 2019.
The rankings, which came out Sept. 4, included more than a 1,000 schools in the U.S. and were based on an analysis of academic, admission, financial and student life data from the U.S. Department of Education. They also included “millions of reviews from students and alumni,” according to Niche.
President Daniel Mahony, who assumed his role July 2015, said the relationship between faculty and students is one of the ways Winthrop distinguishes itself.
“A lot of it has to do with the amount of time our faculty spends with our students and some of that comes out in the ranking,” he said. “Smaller class sizes, a really great undergraduate student research experience and things like that help make us different from some of the other schools.”
Aimee Meader, an assistant professor of mass communication, said Winthrop’s small class sizes are beneficial.
“I get to give one-on-one attention to each and every student. You are not just a number in a huge lecture hall,” she said. “You are actually someone that we get to know and care about. We check up on you if you are not there in class. We want to see how you are doing, how can we help, how can we get you to meet your goals. That’s why I love Winthrop.”
Akiera Davis, a 20-year-old senior majoring in integrated marketing communication, said the university’s friendly environment is why she chose to apply.
“I chose Winthrop because the environment genuinely felt like a welcoming home,” she said. “I also felt the diverse atmosphere and it did not feel like any other.”
Davis also said Winthrop’s academic programs attribute to its recognition.
“Winthrop is known to have top-notch, challenging educational programs and some of the state’s best teachers, which I think contributed to its recent ranking,” she said.
“I think Winthrop is unique because it is a very diverse university,” said Kiara Williams, a 20-year-old senior majoring in integrated marketing communication.
Williams said she came to Winthrop because its integrated marketing communication major program is helping her pursue her “dream career.”
Padmini Patwardhan, a professor mass communication, said Winthrop’s prep work for a variety of careers adds to its success.
“Almost every program that Winthrop has is accredited and these accreditations suggest that we are providing the kinds of skills that those industries need,” she said.
Patwardhan also said that most of the mass communication classes, for example, contain “very strong” skills training components, which teach students technical skills and “concepting,” skills, making the students “well-rounded individuals.”
Niche.com is a site that examines and ranks academic institutions, workplaces and neighborhoods throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico, based on data from sources including the Department of Education, U.S. Census Bureau and FBI.
Niche also evaluates millions of reviews and conducts surveys of students, parents and residents to help people understand if a new school, workplace or community is the right match for them.
Mahony said he expects the university to continue to progress in the future.
“We certainly want to keep the things that make Winthrop special. The growth goals will relate more to online programs or programs for adult learners so that the typical undergraduate experience will largely remain the same,” said Mahony. “It will maintain that high-touch attention relationship from faculty that we had for a long time.”
Clemson University, Furman University, the University of South Carolina, Wofford College, Bob Jones University, the Citadel and the College of Charleston were ranked ahead of Winthrop, according the the Niche list.