A link has been circulating around the seminar room: Forbes' America's Top Colleges ranking list, published early August 2011. Colby was ranked #20, ahead of schools like Dartmouth (#30) and Columbia (#42) - (For the full rundown, In The 'Cac had a good take on the article). If you'll forgive me for diving into yesterday's news, I think I've found a method to Forbes' madness.
Forbes says they "pointedly ignore" school reputation and "wasteful spending." Their ranking criteria include student satisfaction, post-graduate success, student debt, four-year graduation rate, and competitive awards. Prestige and endowment are nowhere to be found. The rankings beg the question: we know we're good, but are we better than Dartmouth?
What I took away was that Forbes is ranking schools based on whether you can go there and be guaranteed an excellent education. This is why I think West Point (#3) and the U.S. Air Force Academy (#10) score so high. Liberal arts schools and military academies are alike in that they will break you down and push you past your limit no matter who you are. It takes a certain machiavellian instinct to climb the ladder at large, prestigious schools like UC Berkeley (#70) or Carnegie Mellon (#98).
As for our rank high above rival Bowdoin (#38), I can only figure that there was one ranking criteria they were keeping secret: attractiveness of females.