Spiders decided on the university for differing reasons, but all can celebrate that they made a smart choice: Richmond was ranked fourth among Virginia’s best colleges in an article published on USA Today’s College website in July.

The article highlighted the university’s “innovative curriculum” and high academic standards. Richmond’s study abroad options, with programs in more than 30 countries, were also emphasized. A mention of the university’s “good value” for its quality of education rounded out the article’s five-sentence overview of the university.

Preceding Richmond was Washington and Lee University in the first place spot, followed by the University of Virginia and the College of William and Mary, respectively.

Patrice Rankine, dean of the school of arts and sciences, finds the ranking “terrific.”

“The rankings included 41 institutions, and the top four of which we are a part are certainly among the finest institutions of higher education in the nation, even putting aside the regional significance,” Rankine said.

Director of Admission Nate Crozier said he agreed being named one of the best colleges in Virginia had broader significance.

“It’s great to be recognized as one of the top postsecondary institutions in Virginia,” Crozier said, “especially considering that the Commonwealth has some of the best quality colleges and universities in the nation.”

The rankings for the top ten colleges in Virginia were compiled by College Factual, out of 41 colleges in the state. The website is dedicated to compiling college statistics in order to help students find their best fit without risking their financial future.

“College Factual’s ranking methodology is highly focused on data related to outcomes, such as loan default rates, graduation rates and average starting salaries of graduates,” the USA Today article reads.

Such attention to outcome statistics contextualizes the value of a college’s education, but does not entirely represent it.

“While UR performs far above the national average in these areas, many other areas exist in which UR performs well and can be tied directly to a positive student experience that do not appear to be included in the methodology,” Crozier said.

President Crutcher previously told The Collegian he believed the quality of education at Richmond compared to some of the very best private schools in the country, and he would like to raise the public’s awareness of the school.

Rankine said he thought Richmond’s fourth-place spot confirmed what Crutcher had expressed.

“Any time that the University of Richmond is mentioned favorably in the region, nationally or internationally, we further the goal of being recognized for the exceptional educational environment that we are,” Rankine said.

Regardless of ranking, the university is fulfilling its purpose, RCSGA President Ken Anderson said.

“First or fourth place,” Anderson said, “I feel [students] are receiving an excellent liberal arts education that is preparing us for a successful and fulfilling post-college life.”