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Conservative magazine names best colleges and universities in America

The conservative American Spectator magazine recently published a list of their editors’ top recommendations for conservative colleges and universities across the nation.

The list of 26 recommendations, primarily Christian and Catholic institutions, share common attributes, such as they are based in the traditional liberal arts, teach constitutional principles and the Western canon, and have also prioritized faith, honesty and integrity above all else.

Most of the schools also boast strong graduation rates, high student ACT scores, “excellent” sexual morals, and several conservative student clubs on campus.

The list was embedded in a larger summer 2023 issue dedicated to education issues titled “High time conservatives play hooky: The best conservative colleges.”

Eleven of the 26 on the list were given the distinction of “highly recommended.” They are: Asbury University, AveMaria University, Benedictine College, Cedarville University, College of the Ozarks, Franciscan University of Steubenville, Grove City College, Hillsdale College, Patrick Henry College, Thomas Aquinas College and University of Dallas.

The remaining recommended schools on the list are: Baylor University, Belmont Abbey College, Brigham Young University-Provo, Catholic University of America, Concordia University (Nebraska), Harding University, Liberty University, Pepperdine University, Regent University, Samford University, Texas A&M, University of Notre Dame, University of St. Thomas (Texas), Wyoming Catholic College and Yeshiva University.

“We don’t rank colleges and universities; we offer them and hope that you and your child will be surprised by the expansive and unique choices and find one that suits you. We likely have missed some excellent schools. We urge you to share your ideas and feedback with us,” wrote Melissa Mackenzie, publisher of the American Spectator.

Several schools on the list — Grove City, Hillsdale, Wyoming Catholic and Patrick Henry colleges — do not accept federal funding to avoid having to kowtow to various federal mandates.

The 26 on the list range in religious affiliation, including nondenominational, Presbyterian, Baptist, Roman Catholic and Jewish Orthodox. The magazine also cites enthusiastic patriotism and active conservative student clubs when present at these institutions.

The only public, secular university on the list is Texas A&M, which the magazine reports “boasts exemplary academics” as well as a vibrant intellectual and faith community: “if you know where to look, you will find rich networks of conservative and Christian students.”

Schools that have unique attributes got attention on the list. For example, it points out College of the Ozarks’ tuition is “nonexistent, thanks to the school’s requirement that students work on campus to pay their way.” The write up on Harding University highlights how administrators prohibit drinking alcohol on and off campus. Yeshiva offers “sex-separated liberal arts schools that incorporate the study of the Torah.”

One of the most unique on the list appears to be Wyoming Catholic College, which “is so conservative and Catholic that it does not permit cell phones and filters social media websites from its campus WiFi,” the magazine reports, adding it also maintains a 10:30 p.m. curfew.

The College Fix contacted many colleges and universities named on the list and received replies from the University of Dallas, Hillsdale College and Grove City College — all three of which are cited under “highly recommended” by the magazine.

The University of Dallas is a Catholic university that bills itself as offering an integration of faith and reason from its founding to the present day.

“We also take seriously our identity as ‘the Catholic university for independent thinkers’ by fostering a culture that encourages students to engage in free debate and civil discourse, all too rare in today’s cancel culture, and by encouraging joyful participation in the Catholic faith and many opportunities to engage in charitable works,” campus spokeswoman Clare Venegas told The Fix.

An education there includes an intensive 19-class core and a study abroad session in Rome, where some classes are taught, according to the school’s website.

As for the Michigan-based Hillsdale College, campus spokeswoman Emily Stack Davis said “it is a source of pride whenever Hillsdale College is recognized for its serious pursuit of liberal arts education.”

“Such an education is not meant to be ‘conservative’ or ‘liberal,’ it is meant to free the mind from popular ideologies and current fads,” she said. “Students of the liberal arts seek the highest truths of human existence by studying the works of great thinkers. Students hunger for an education in how to lead a flourishing life.”

Hillsdale’s tagline is “developing minds, improving hearts.” The Spectator pointed out in its write up that Hillsdale requires students sign an honor code and the campus is “alive with the Christian faith.” The college is also known to offer a rigorous education in the Western canon and frequently hosts extremely high-profile guest speakers.

Grove City College in Pennsylvania is highlighted for its Institute for Faith and Freedom, which is at the “heart of the university,” the Spectator noted.

Grove City College political science Professor Paul Kengor, who leads the institute and is also editor of the American Spectator, told The College Fix via email that his campus is “a shining city on a hill in higher ed,” borrowing a line from President Ronald Reagan, whose principles the school is known to emulate.

“At Grove City College, faith and freedom brighten our sky as well. We see the two as complementary. One reinforces the other. You need both,” Kengor said. “Our educational philosophy at Grove City College appeals to both and integrates both. That’s a fundamental thing that makes us special.”

“For me personally, it has been a joy to teach at a college like that. There aren’t very many of them.”

MORE: College students encouraged to enter National Review Institute’s annual essay contest

IMAGE: Hillsdale College

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About the Author
College Fix contributor Ruth Brown is a student at Grove City College where she studies history. She is involved in the campus literary magazine and the Journal for Law and Public Policy.