Here’s a unique way to check out what political pundits really know: the recently released  Best Value Colleges (www.BestValueColleges.org) awards from University Research and Review is led by schools in so-called swing states in the upcoming Presidential election.

Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan are three of the six states with the most schools that the group determined had the greatest number of Best Value awardees. These three states represent over 20% of all electoral votes needed to win the White House, are considered toss-ups and/or fence-sitters and will be of critical importance to both Republicans and Democrats.

So, why do you think this is?

These are primarily not state, public colleges and universities; rather they are typically smaller, more independent private schools (though, to be clear, few are for-profit). But they are in states that have seen more than their fair share of economic uncertainty in the last four years and have become national electoral bell-weathers for longer than that.

In all cases, these Best Value award recipients were identified as affordable – as in true, net, out-of-pocket costs, including financial aid that does not drown students in debt – with highly regarded faculty and well-rated among students for both academic and student life.

These schools are indicative of the states in which they operate: financially and occupationally challenged; politically mixed and scarred by recent years; and sufficiently independent of the state and federal governments to find ways to support their students.

Among schools recognized from these key states in the 9th edition of Best Value Colleges are Pennsylvania’s Keystone College, Johnson College, Ursinus College, Marywood College, Cabrini University, Cairn University, Lincoln University, Mercyhurst University, Mount Aloysius College and Thiel College. Ohio’s value leaders included: Ohio Northland University; Ashland University; Chatfield College; Heidelberg University; Kettering College; Mount Vernon Nazarene University; and, Wilmington College. In Michigan, the traditional higher education institutions identified include: College for Creative Students; Siena Heights University, Adrian College; Alma College; and Finlandia University.

“Do you believe in coincidence?”, award founder and University Research and Review chairman and CEO L. Joseph Schmoke, asked recently. “I don’t. I see trends and commonality. And the fact that these schools, as well as those in North Carolina and elsewhere, are bucking the trends and creating affordable and valuable options are in political ‘swing-states,’ have more than coincidence going for them.


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