5 Reasons Rollins Ranks in the Top 5 for Commitment to Undergraduate Teaching

November 04, 2021

By Stephanie Rizzo ’09

an outdoor classroom at Rollins College
Photo by Scott Cook.

U.S. News & World Report has recognized the College among the top 5 in the South for its exceptional commitment to teaching undergraduate students. Explore five of our favorite reasons Rollins rises to the top.

U.S. News & World Report has ranked Rollins in the top 5 for its commitment to undergraduate teaching in its 2022 rankings of the nation’s best colleges. The College was ranked No. 4 on the list of 86 colleges that demonstrate a strong commitment to teaching undergraduates.

This is the third consecutive year that Rollins has been ranked among the top five in this particular category, thanks in no small part to the College’s commitment to supporting engaged, personalized learning. From faculty expertise to one-on-one mentorship, learn more about why Rollins delivers the best liberal arts education around.

Cristina Toppin, MacKenzie Moon Ryan, and Morgan Snoap examine African artifacts as part of a research project.
Photo by Scott Cook.

1. We make it personal.

With a student-faculty ratio of 11:1 and an average class size of just 17, it’s not just easy to find a mentor at Rollins—it’s all but guaranteed. Our dedicated faculty are there to guide you from the moment you set foot inside a Rollins classroom, and they’ll continue to do so throughout your journey.

Just ask Cristina Toppin ’21, who credits mentors like art history professor MacKenzie Moon Ryan, sociology professor Amy McClure, and former director of external scholarship advisement Jayashree Shivamoggi for helping nurture and guide her passion for activism. Their support helped Toppin become the first Tar to attend Harvard Kennedy School’s Public Policy Leadership Conference, where she worked alongside activist luminaries like NAACP president Cornell Brooks.

Ellane Park
Photo by Scott Cook.

2. Our faculty are leading experts.

Our faculty are dedicated to turning out industry leaders, but they’re also pretty impressive in their own right. From driving cutting-edge research to answering some of academia’s most pressing questions, our award-winning professors work diligently to bring fresh, pertinent perspectives into their classroom.

Take chemistry professor Ellane Park, who is currently conducting research on nanotechnology in Durban, South Africa, through the venerated Fulbright program. And sometimes, the connection to Rollins runs even deeper. Marketing professor Raghabendra KC ’13 graduated from Rollins with a degree in economics before going on to get his master’s and PhD from the University of Cambridge. After fielding offers from Fortune 500 companies, he decided to return to the College in 2018 to help guide the next generation of Tars.

A student and a professor scrutinize a painting
Photo by Scott Cook.

3. Our mentorship model works.

The Gallup-Perdue Index, which collates data from more than 30,000 U.S. graduates, shows that college graduates who had a professor who cared about them as a person, made them excited about learning, and encouraged their dreams were twice as likely to thrive in both their lives and careers. That’s a pretty telling statistic and one we take to heart in our quest to prepare our graduates for meaningful lives and productive careers.

How do we do it? By making sure that mentorship is baked into our signature liberal arts curriculum from day one. The very first class you take is the Rollins College Conference (RCC), where you’re introduced to the faculty member who will serve as your advisor for the next two years. From there, you’ll gain an academic advisor in your major who will guide you through the rest of your journey in addition to mentors from various disciplines as you develop a cross-section of interests. Along the way, alumni and peer mentors provide key guidance and support in everything from course selection to career advice. It’s all part of the learning process, and it’s how Rollins does mentorship like no one else.

Students on an Immersion
Photo by Scott Cook.

4. Learning doesn’t stop in the classroom.

Just because class time ends doesn’t mean learning does. Our students and faculty pair up on original scholarly research, travel the globe on field studies focused on everything from community development to access to clean water, and join forces in service learning through alternative breaks. These kinds of experiences enrich students’ minds and spark interest and passion in new areas as you work toward defining your purpose.

At Rollins, Shalini Allam ’13 participated in eight different Immersions—weekend or weeklong journeys of education, reflection, and action steeped in service of others—and credits the experience with making her a better doctor.

“I began to think of my own biases about people based on their situations, which often are no fault of their own,” says Allam, a resident physician at Georgetown University. “Encounters like that have shaped the way I want to care for patients.”

Lucas Hernandez in his office at Microsoft in Miami.
Photo by Scott Cook.

5. It’s all about you.

So what do you get when you combine our expert faculty, meaningful mentorship, and rarefied opportunities? That’s easy—you get to pursue whatever passion you want. That’s because our interdisciplinary programs are designed to provide outstanding support in anything you want to do. We’ll listen to your dreams and then work with you inside and outside of the classroom to make them a reality. No goal is too big. Just ask Lucas Hernandez ’13, who’s directing corporate partnerships at Microsoft Philanthropies.

“During my time at Rollins, I traveled to five countries, explored dozens of communities across the U.S., and participated in a range of fellowships, which all helped illuminate a path that I still walk to this day,” says Hernandez, who majored in international relations. “At each turn I had a community of support around me to foster a sense of adventure and curiosity. I learned about the person I was, the values I hold, and the impact I want to have on the world.”

Professor and students in a class discussion at a Rollins outdoor classroom

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