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Local schools rank on Forbes' top colleges list

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College of the Ozarks and Missouri State and Drury universities are among 650 schools nationwide ranked in Forbes' recent list of the top colleges in the U.S.

Point Lookout-based C of O ranked 141st on the list, following by MSU at No. 594 and Drury at No. 602.

The rankings, compiled for Forbes by Washington, D.C.-based Center for College Affordability and Productivity, are based on quality of teaching, career prospects, graduation rates and affordability.

C of O's ranking pointed to the school's work program, which allows students to pay off tuition by working 15 hours per week at one of the university's 80 work sites, including a dairy farm, a grist mill and a student-run hotel and restaurant. Led by President Jerry Davis, the school has 1,377 enrolled students and in- and out-of-state tuition of $18,030.

C of O also ranked No. 120 among private colleges and 21st in the Midwest.

MSU - which has in-state tuition of $6,598 and out-of-state tuition of $12,418 - was cited for its 33,000-acre cattle ranch and fruit experiment station at its Mountain Grove campus. The ranking also noted that in the 2008-09 academic year, more than 1,800 students participated in service-learning courses, contributing more than 49,000 hours to government or nonprofit organizations. The school, led by interim President Clif Smart, has 20,276 students, all of whom are assigned an adviser, another aspect recognized by the Forbes list.

MSU ranked No. 143 in the Midwest.

Drury, led by President Todd Parnell, has 5,324 students who pay in- and out-of-state tuition of $21,043. Forbes noted the school's aesthetic qualities, such as its more than 800 trees on campus that have led to the university being certified as an American Tree Farm. Forbes also cited Bob Barker, former host of the The Price is Right, who graduated in 1947 with a degree in economics. Barker donated $1 million in 2008 to establish the Bob Barker Endowment Fund for the Study of Animal Rights.

Drury ranked 391st in private colleges and No. 145 in the Midwest.

New Jersey-based Princeton University ranked No. 1 on the overall list. The highest-ranking Missouri college was Washington University in St. Louis, at No. 71, followed by C of O.

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