||Rating the rankings: Forbes is No. 1
RELEASED: October 22, 2009
By Mike Norris
DANVILLE, KY—As is widely known, an ever-increasing number of organizations rank colleges and universities. And now CBS MoneyWatch.com has rated the rankers.
The result? On the MoneyWatch five-star scale, only Forbes magazine’s America’s Best Colleges 2009—which ranks Centre 14th among all U.S. colleges and universities—pulled a five-star rating.
According to MoneyWatch: "Forbes' self-declared aim is to size up 600 colleges 'based on the quality of the education they provide, the experience of the students and how much they achieve.'"
MoneyWatch goes on to explain, "The Center for College Affordability and Productivity, an education think tank, helps produce the rankings. Twenty-five percent of a school's score is based on students' satisfaction with their courses, according to evaluations at RateMyProfessors.com. This being Forbes, another quarter of the weighing is pegged to salaries of a school's graduates. The Forbes rankings also favor schools with high four-year graduation rates, and ones whose faculty and students win national and international awards."
What they like about Forbes
MoneyWatch also notes that Forbes compiles a list of 200 schools called "America's Best College Buys." In addition to being ranked 14th overall, Centre is ranked 14th on this list as well.
U.S. News: Got game?
MoneyWatch points out that the U.S. News ranking is based primarily on reputation and resources. "Examples: What college administrators think of their peer schools (25 percent of a colleg'’s score), how many students return after freshman year, faculty salaries, and class sizes. Its rankings favor elite schools because U.S. News bestows higher marks to institutions with the best reputations that also reject more applicants and enjoy extremely generous alumni."
Centre is in a three-way tie for 46th on the U.S. News top-50 Best Colleges list.
While MoneyWatch acknowledges that U.S. News can be helpful for "families mystified about college choices and looking for the most comprehensive rankings," they see a built-in bias in the heavy emphasis the magazine places on schools rating the reputations of their peers: "U.S. News relies heavily on the reputation of schools, through its administrator peer reviews, which virtually guarantees the Ivies and other highly selective institutions rank highest. Harvard's president is supposed to rank all the national universities—from Oklahoma State to Drexel—and vice versa."
Moreover, MoneyWatch sees this aspect of the system as vulnerable to manipulation: "Schools also try to game the U.S. News rankings. According to Inside Higher Ed, Clemson's president, for instance, gave his only 'strong' rating to his own school."
Centre is ranked 29th on the Kiplinger's Best Colleges list. (Consumers Digest, which MoneyWatch does not rank, gives the College even higher marks, rating Centre as the No. 1 value among all U.S. liberal arts colleges.)
PR: Centre's Professors Rate
Rankings a growth industry
Centre President John Roush frequently counsels members of the Centre community to enjoy the College's high rankings, while at the same time taking them with a large grain of salt.
Centre, by any measure
He goes on to say, "If a school is highly ranked and regarded in virtually all the lists and guidebooks—which make their determinations based on widely varying methodologies—it's fairly likely that good things are happening in terms of the education being provided to young men and women on that campus. This is the case with Centre College to a remarkable degree. Wherever you look—from U.S. News to Forbes to Colleges That Change Lives to the National Survey of Student Engagement—you'll find Centre among the leaders. Very few educational institutions in America are regarded so favorably by so many."
To see the complete MoneyWatch article, click here.
To see a humorous poem on the relative order of schools, submitted anonymously as an entry in the College's Forbes Lucky 13 contest, click here.
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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Consumers Digest ranks Centre No. 1 in educational value among all U.S. liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
For news archives go to http://www.centre.edu/web/news/newsarchive.html.
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Danville, KY 40422