Rocky Mountain College is Montana’s No. 1 college for gender diversity for the second year in a row, according to a study completed in October.
RMC also ranked in the top 5 percent nationwide by improving its ranking from 335 to 59 in the 2019 Gender Diversity Study conducted by College Factual, a data analytics firm located in Troy, New York.
College Factual computed its college rankings by analyzing the age, gender, race and place of origin for the enrolled students of 2,486 American colleges.
The higher degree of variety of these criteria, the higher the college ranking, according to a press release emailed to Austin Mapston, RMC’s dean of enrollment services for the last 14 years.
Mapston, a Carroll College, Seattle University, and RMC alumnus, said that universities typically have a higher percentage of females, with a 60-40 ratio of females to males the norm.
“But at Rocky,” Mapston said during an in person interview, “the ratio is 50-50 largely because of our aviation program, which is heavily male dominated. We have some females there, but not many. And we have the football team.”
Aeronautical science major Stefan Arnone will graduate from Rocky this May. His search for the right college four years ago was specific.
“I was interested in collegiate aviation programs, and I knew I wanted to stay west of the Mississippi,” Arnone said in a recent email interview.
“Having grown up out West, I’ve always loved the varied topography and wide open spaces in this part of the country. I eventually narrowed it down to Rocky and one other school,” said Arnone.
“I decided on Rocky after visiting campus, meeting with Dan Hargrove (director of the Aviation program), touring flight operations, and getting a feel for the pleasant, close-knit sense of community that seemed to pervade everything.”
Freshman Olivia Smith, of Missoula, came to Rocky looking to start her life over.
“I needed a safe and welcoming environment that encouraged personal growth and understanding. I am a part of a growing generation of indigenous people that struggle with continuing their education past high school,” Smith said by email.
“The size of the college and effort it puts into each individual student’s success was enough to persuade me.”
Smith will graduate in May 2023 with a bachelor of science degree in business administration and a master of accountancy degree.
“I think it’s unique to see a small liberal arts college with both traditional fields of study and so many specialized programs, especially in a relatively sparsely populated region like Montana,” said Arnone.
“It makes Rocky an interesting place that seems to attract a neat mix of interesting people!”
RMC earned the distinction as Montana’s No. 1 college for gender diversity because of its commitment to supporting men and women equally, according to the College Factual ranking survey.
“In particular, of all graduates on [Rocky Mountain College’s] campus, 50.3 percent are male and 49.7 percent are female.”
“Diversity,” Mapston said, “means treating everybody the same at the end of the day.”
The students who come to Rocky are “all students wanting a college that provides an educational enrichment and experience we’ve been known for.”
“This,” said Mapston, “is what makes Rocky specifically unique for a private institution.”