Academics, affordability add to APU’s ranking on Outside magazine’s Top 25

 Alaska Pacific University is among Outside magazine’s top 25 colleges for students seeking affordable wilderness outings as well as academic courses that require outdoor fieldwork.

In rankings released Aug. 14, APU placed 16th on a list that includes powerhouses like Stanford, Bowdoin and University of California campuses at Berkeley, Los Angeles, San Diego and Santa Cruz.

APU placed behind the University of Wyoming and ahead of Reed College. In 2008, Skiing magazine listed APU as a Top 10 campus.

“Outside did its homework,” said Paul Twardock, associate professor and chair of APU’s Outdoor Studies Department. “Its rating scale took into account factors like academic-based fieldwork, affordable travel courses and classes that lead to professional certifications”.

“These are attributes that have set APU’s program apart for a long time. We’ve earned this honor.”

Outside noted that APU students could work toward certification as a Wilderness First Responder by taking a for-credit class. The magazine credited APU for offering a range of free or very inexpensive trips and clinics that made it easier for budget-conscious students to enjoy Alaska outdoors.

APU President Don Bantz said Outside’s attention to the variety and quality of APU’s on-campus activities was well-placed. “That’s a tribute to our student services staff,” Bantz said.

APU’s popular rock-wall in Atwood Hall was cited as well as miles of on-campus hiking trails and skill-building classes at APU’s Nordic Ski Center, where Olympian and APU student Kikkan Randall trains.

Schools made the Top 25 based on a 10-item score sheet that included breadth of outdoor-adventure recreation programs; affordability of average outdoor-adventure trip or wilderness outing offered by a school’s recreation center; proximity to state or national parks; academic courses that require outdoor fieldwork and availability and cost of equipment to rent or borrow on campus.

Outside also took into account the number and cost of certification programs or guide schools offered, such as Leave No Trace Master Educator; Interpretive Guide Certification; and Wilderness First Responder. All three are among credentials offered as for-credit courses at APU.

Outside reaches readers nationwide who rely on the magazine for reporting on adventure travel and active-lifestyle topics.

Founded in 1959 and accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, APU is Alaska’s only private, four-year baccalaureate liberal arts university.

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