BAR HARBOR, Maine — The College of the Atlantic has been named among the top five schools in the nation for its small classes and international student body, according to U.S. News and World Report’s 2009 edition of “America’s Best Colleges.”

The magazine lists three essential criteria for judging schools, among them “Highest Proportion of Classes Under 20.” COA ranked third in the nation for small classes with 97 percent of its classes under 20 students.

“It’s worth reminding our-selves that strong student-faculty connections is the most respectful and challenging of education experiences — and the reason why colleges were first created,” COA President David Hales said in a press release.

The college also ranked fourth in the magazine for the percentage of international students among the nation’s liberal arts colleges.

COA is welcoming 71 first-year students in September for a total of 318 undergraduates; 46 of the new freshmen hail from 32 nations besides the United States.

These accolades come on the heels of the Princeton Review’s annual “Best Colleges” rankings in which COA was one of the top 11 environmental colleges and ranked in the lists’ top 10 for the Most Accessible Professors, Students Happy with Financial Aid and Class Discussions Encouraged categories.