Colleges drop out of rankings

By Ryan Kirby
September 20, 2007

The New York Times reported that of the 80 liberal arts colleges associated with the “Annapolis Group,” a majority will drop out of the annual U.S. News survey. The Decision came after the Annapolis Group, a loose organization of liberal arts colleges, held their annual meeting.

U.S. News is supposed to be the most accurate college ranking system available, and this represents the biggest opposition the report has ever faced. Graduation retention rates, student-to-faculty ratio and class size are the types of categories that the report covers. The critics say that ranking system encourages colleges to gain more applicants and then reject a larger percentage of them, in order to appear more selective.

The Annapolis Group also announced that they would come up with their own system of ranking colleges, one that will not ignore the educational priorities that they are trying to establish. Katherine Will, president of Gettysburg College and incoming President of the Annapolis Group said to the New York Times, “We should be defining the conversation, not a magazine that uses us for its business plan.”

Brian Kelly, the editor of the U.S. News, said that he understands if certain colleges don’t want to participate, but also said that he feels the majority of presidents still support their survey. “We take our critics seriously, but we also think our ranking is valuable.”

Dr. Antoinette Iadarola, Cabrini’s president commented through e-mail, “I have been following this controversial issue for some time now and am sensitive to both the pros and cons, and to ‘US News and World Report’s’ efforts to address issue. Cabrini supplies ‘US News & World Report’ with the data they request. Readers are free to use the magazine’s rankings in any way that is useful to them.”

Dr. Jeffrey Gingerich, associate professor of sociology, said that the U.S. News rankings have been under criticism for some time now. Gingerich also said that it is not surprising schools are starting to revolt because the magazine does not have an adequate way of ranking the college and yet potential college students rely heavily on the magazine to help them make their decision. Gingerich said, “It then becomes a case of a popular magazine determining what is a good college education rather than the educators themselves. It is interesting that it is mostly higher ranked colleges that seem to be revolting. They have enough name recognition that they are able to drop out without being hurt too much. Whether lesser-known colleges like Cabrini are able to afford to not be listed in the rankings is an interesting question.”

Gabe Valentino, a senior marketing major, said, “I remember looking at the magazine my senior year for the graduation retention rates, because I wanted to pick a school not only that I would want to stay at for four years but one that would give me great job opportunities.”

Schools in the area that made the top 112 liberal arts colleges in this year’s report included Ursinus, Susquehanna, Swarthmore, Juniata, Bryn Mawr, Gettysburg and Dickinson.

Ryan Kirby

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