Colby moves up in numerous national rankings

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Miller Library

The value of the Colby College education is greater now than ever. The Class of 2020 was one of the most competitive and diverse applicant pools in the history of the college. For the past two years, high school and transfer applicant interest in the College has greatly increased. This past year, 9,833 students applied for a spot in the Class of 2020; a 30% increase from the previous year and a 90% increase from 2013. With total enrollment in the College hovering around 1,800 students, the College looks to enroll around 500 students per class each fall. However, with the increase in applicants, the College can be more selective and create an arguably more cohesive and diverse class, which can be seen in the recent decrease in acceptance rate. The acceptance rate for the Class of 2017 was 26%, meaning that the acceptance rate for the Class of 2020 has decreased by almost ten percent, down to 17.5%.
These numbers may be due to recent changes in the College’s application process. For starters, students no longer need to pay a fee on the Common App when applying. Furthermore, the College accepts other applications such as the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success. Due to these changes, the College may have seen a greater increase in applications which would, in turn, allow the College to be more selective and subsequently decrease the acceptance rate.

Both the change in applicant interest and ultimately the change in acceptance rate have been reflected in the most recent annual rankings of colleges by U.S. News & World. Each year, the website comes out with a new list of rankings for colleges in a number of categories including best national university, best liberal arts college, best value schools, best undergraduate teaching programs, and many others. In this year’s report of the Best Colleges of National Liberal Arts Colleges category, Colby College is ranked 12. The report also ranked the College at 19 for Best Value Schools as well as 19 in Best Undergraduate Teaching Programs. Overall, the report ranked the College a score of 86 out of 100.

The U.S. News has a strict methodology for how they rank colleges. First, colleges are divided into types of institutions such as liberal arts colleges, national universities, and regional colleges. Within these categories, colleges are ranked using measurements from education experts that are designed to reliably indicate the level of academic quality of undergraduate education. U.S News’ education experts gather data from each college on up to 15 indicators of academic excellence. Each factor is assigned a weight that reflects U.S. News’ judgment about how much that measure matters. Finally, the colleges and universities in each category are ranked against their peers, based on their total weighted score. Some of the factors that go into the calculation are: graduation and retention rates, undergraduate academic reputation, faculty performance, student selectivity, financial recourses, and alumni giving rate.

Not only has Colby moved up on the U.S. News & World rankings, the College has also moved up in their rankings on other websites as well. This summer, BestColleges.com and the Sierra Club released their Greenest Colleges rankings. This year, Colby ranks third overall and first among NESCAC institutions in the green category. The rankings for “greenest school” are heavily based on the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s (AASHE), the Sustainability Tracking and Assessment Rating System (STARS) scores, as well as the strength of the College’s Environmental Studies Program. Additionaly, Bestcolleges.com also ranks the College as the number two best school in Maine, with Bowdoin coming in first and Bates coming in third.
Together, these rankings demonstrate Colby’s world-class faculty and rigorous liberal arts curriculum. These numbers echo the quality of the Colby College experience.