Update: As commenter Toby so astutely pointed out, the Forbes ranking lumps all colleges together, while U.S. News lists us under the “national university” category. If you look at our Forbes ranking as a “research universities,” we’re #19. No so bad…
Yesterday, Forbes magazine released its list of “America’s Top Colleges.”
Georgetown, which ranks #21 on the widely-cited U.S. News and World Report rankings, barely broke Forbes‘ top 50 with a ranking of 47.
At least they didn’t hate us as much as some of the Ivies: Columbia tumbled from #4 in U.S. News to #42 in Forbes; Pennsylvania, from #5 to #52. Top-ranked for the second year in a row is Williams College, a rural, western Massachusetts liberal arts school.
In general, schools that made it to the upper ranks are less expensive, as in tuition-free West Point (#3), or give very generous financial aid, such as #2 Princeton.
Writer Michael Noer asserts that the magazine’s rankings “evaluate the college purchase as a consumer would: Is it worth spending as much as a quarter of a million dollars for this degree?”
The ranking gives approximately equal (~30 percent) weight to student satisfaction, expressed in RateMyProfessor rankings and freshman-to-sophomore retention rates; and post-graduate success, based on listings in Who’s Who in America, the Forbes/CCAP corporate officer list, and alumni average salary. Average student debt and rate of four-year graduation each receive a weight of 17.5 percent. Finally, Forbes rewards school that attract Rhodes and Fulbright scholars with a 7.5 percent weight for competitive academic awards.
Noer specifically disavows measures of “reputation” and what he calls “ill-conceived metrics that reward wasteful spending.” We suspect this is a dig at the 22.5 percent weight U.S. News gives to academic and high school counselor rankings of academic excellence and the 10 percent weight they endow for per student spending.
It’s hard to say exactly where Georgetown lost out against the competition. Was it unsatisfactory aid as a percentage of tuition or slightly lower retention (96 percent) and four-year graduation rates (88 percent)? Meanwhile, our professors ranked #13 overall on RateMyProfessor.
I’m sure Dino-Jack would have something to say about this.