Colby moves up seven spots in college rankings

Colby College was ranked as the number 11 (tied with Haverford College and Smith College) national liberal arts college in the U.S. News & World Report “2020 Best Colleges Ranking,” released on Sept. 8. The College was ranked number 18 on last year’s list, tied with Harvey Mudd College, the U.S. Military Academy, and Wesleyan College. Some students were excited to see the College make a leap in the rankings.

“I think that’s excellent,” Jake Guentherman `22 said in an interview with the Echo. “I can really see all the improvements President Greene has been making to this college to make it a great place[…]to be at the moment. Really a big turning point in the history of Colby.”

“Ditto,” Jack MacPhee `21 said.

According to Vice President for Communications Ruth Jackson, a change in how U.S. News scored the institutions had a large impact on where Colby placed on the list.

“It always comes back to the methodology at U.S. News, and they change it, not every year, but they have changed it the last several years in different ways,” Jackson said in a recent interview with the Echo. “That can change dramatically, or not dramatically, where a college sits.”

According to its website, there are five factors that U.S. News considers in its rankings: “Outcomes,” which includes measures such as graduation rates and student retention rates; “Expert Opinion,” which is determined by surveys of Provosts, Presidents, and Deans of Admission at peer colleges; “Faculty Resources,” which accounts for variables such as class size and faculty salary; “Student Excellence,” which incorporates SAT scores and high school class ranks, and “Financial Resources,” which measures education-related expenditures (the College’s spending on the downtown apartment complex and new athletic facility does not count toward this score).

Jackson said that the College benefited from an improved score in the Faculty Resources category.

“Colby was ranked number five nationally for faculty resources…and that’s a really important place to be,” Jackson said. “We always talk about how important it is for us to provide our students and faculty with everything they need to do their very best work.”

Another area in which Colby saw progress was in the Expert Opinion score.

“I think the key to that piece is that all of the changes that we’ve been making at Colby over the past five-ish years have started to make a difference that others are seeing. So it’s not just that we’re seeing it on campus…Other people are seeing that Colby has great momentum and is doing really important things, and so that was an important area to see some change,”

Jackson explained.

Some students questioned the importance of the rankings, saying that they do not affect the lives of Colby students.

“I don’t see how the rankings have any effect on my experience right now,” Patrick Forelli `21 said in an interview with the Echo.

Jackson agreed that rankings are not fully representative of what life at a given college is like but noted that they can have an impact on prospective students.

“Rankings don’t fully measure or capture what an academic experience is, what a student experience is, a residential experience,” Jackson explained. “I mean there’s no way that any ranking can actually fully capture that, and at the same time, it’s an important tool for students and families to use when they’re considering colleges, and we appreciate that and recognize that.

Leave a Reply