Matt Thrift

(Rock Hill, S.C.) — If you’re looking for one of the top institutions of higher learning in the southeastern U.S., look no further than Winthrop University.

The Princeton Review recently included Winthrop on its list of 142 schools rated as the “Best in the Southeast.” The college admissions services company featured 656 schools on its “2020 Best Colleges: Region by Region” list across five zones, which included the Southeast, Northeast, Midwest, West and international.

The rankings are based on data that comes from the colleges, as well as visits to the schools and the opinions of Princeton Review staff.

The company maintains a web page for each school on the list, which includes data about the school’s acceptance rate, graduation rate, average SAT and ACT scores and a financial aid rating.

The Princeton Review specifically mentioned Winthrop’s cultural event requirement and the Lois Rhame West Health, Physical Education and Wellness Center as some of the school’s best features.

Winthrop was one of eight schools in South Carolina to make the list, including Anderson University, Clemson University, Coker University, the College of Charleston, Furman University, the University of South Carolina at Columbia and Wofford College.

President Dan Mahony called the ranking “gratifying” in a post on social media (photo: Instagram).

“It’s gratifying to see the Princeton Review continue to recognize the variety of attributes that make #Winthrop a truly special place to earn a college degree as well as students letting us know how much they value the overall Winthrop experience,” said President Dan Mahony, in a post to his Instagram account.

A number of students also expressed their pleasure with the ranking.

“My first reaction is one of pride,” said Anna Sharpe, a sophomore at Winthrop. “I love being at Winthrop and in my heart, it is already highly ranked. It’s nice to see that there are professional ratings to back up what I already know.”

Sophomore Savannah Scott said she hoped “this wonderful review” would bring more attention to Winthrop.

“I hope from this recognition it will have more people interested in going to school here. When more people attend, then more funding will happen. I love attending this school so I hope a growth will happen so others can experience what I have since being here,” Scott said. “I hope from this, Winthrop will be put on the map and further our improvement as a college.”

The rating data includes quotes from unnamed Winthrop students who give their take on the school’s academics, student body and campus life.

According to the Princeton Review website, students described the Winthrop student body as leaning “slightly toward the right politically” and being largely female. The “typical” student was described as a “laid-back Southern kid” who is “mildly preppy.” Other students noted the “diverse” nature of Winthrop’s student body and a lack of cliques on campus.

However, Sharpe said this description is not entirely accurate and doesn’t adequately reflect the student body at Winthrop.

“It is true that the campus is majority female and we are a diverse campus, but the typical student is not the laid-back Southern kid,” she said. “I find that the student population is generally more left-leaning, with a lot of individuality. Each student expresses themselves proudly here. I also agree that it is not a cliquey campus. Everyone is very welcoming, no two people are truly alike at Winthrop.”

Scott said she also disagrees with the Princeton Review’s characterization of the student body.

“I believe when it comes to attending here, we have a diverse student population,” Scott said. “I feel included by everyone and ultimately I think the kindness among students here is great.”