The University of North Florida is no longer one of the best-kept secrets in the state. The campus community has known for years that UNF has excellent academic programs, stellar faculty and renowned student-life experiences. Now, some prestigious college-rating groups know it too. UNF recently garnered six national rankings from Forbes Magazine and The Princeton Review that put it in the upper echelon of higher-education institutions in the country. UNF came in at No. 19 on Forbes Magazine’s elite “Top 100 Best Buy Colleges” list. Only three other Florida universities made the top 20 — the University of Florida (No. 11), Florida State University (No. 13) and New College of Florida (No. 16). The survey looks at a number of factors including graduation rates. “UNF is starting to be recognized as a school of first choice,” said UNF President John Delaney. “It is no longer the best kept secret in Florida. We have a great deal to offer students from all over the country.” The top three spots on the list went to military service academies that don’t charge tuition. UNF was also ranked among Forbes’ 2011 “America’s Best Colleges” list and was the only First Coast institution to make the list. The University beat out 10 other Florida universities in the rankings, including the University of Central Florida, Florida International University, Florida Atlantic University and the University of South Florida. The Forbes rankings came just after The Princeton Review released itsannual college guidebook that listed UNF as one of 135 “Best Colleges in the Southeast.” This was the fourth consecutive year that the University received this designation. UNF was also named one of the most environmentally responsible colleges in North America by The Princeton Review and was recognized in the second annual edition of “The Princeton Review’s Guide to 311 Green Colleges: 2011 Edition.” UNF receives this national recognition for special programs and initiatives, including a 382-acre, state-protected natural area on campus, and the University’s green building practices, with 100 percent of new construction on campus either being LEED-certified or pursuing certification. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an internationally-recognized green building certification system. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in March 2000, LEED provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions. Earlier this year, The Princeton Review named UNF one of its “Best Value Public Colleges.” The list features 100 schools in all — 50 public and 50 private — chosen from criteria covering academics, cost of attendance and financial aid. UNF was also named a “Best Value” public college in 2009 and 2007. The national rankings just prove what everyone on campus has known for years — students who receive an education from UNF leave with more than just a diploma. They leave with the experiences of transformational learning opportunities and the accompanying hands-on training that will allow them to make significant contributions to their community immediately upon graduation. UNF students leave campus with the skills and knowledge necessary to make a difference from day one.