Friday, August 21, 2009
Making "The List"
It’s a fun little badge to put on your Web site. It’s fun to read the headline in the local paper. And it’s even more fun see who made “the list” and who, um, didn’t.
I’m talking about the latest release of the U.S.News & World Report’s 2010 “America’s Best Colleges Guide” which was announced Aug. 20. (In which Bluffton was listed 20th in the top tier of Best Baccalaureate Colleges in the Midwest - the 12th year Bluffton has been included in the guide.)
For what it’s worth, there are several categories of “best colleges” – best national university, best university-masters, best liberal arts colleges, best baccalaureate college – and even more lists, A+ schools for B students, business, diversity, engineering and many more.
But what does it mean? “For families, the U.S. News rankings provide an excellent starting point because they offer the opportunity to judge the relative quality of institutions based on widely accepted indicators of excellence. You can compare different schools' numbers at a glance, and looking at unfamiliar schools that are ranked near schools you know can be a good way to broaden your search.” (U.S.News & Report news release)
It would be tough to come to a consensus on what are the most important “indicators of excellence.” And U.S.News has taken some lumps for this in the past. But you might as well start somewhere, so for this list, indicators (and Bluffton stats) include average frosh retention rate (73%), average graduation rate (59%), % of classes under 20 (57%), % of classes of 50 or more (1%), student/faculty ratio (13/1), % of full time faculty (80%), frosh in the top 25% of HS class (40%), alumni giving rate (24%) and more.
So what do we do next? We will keep doing what it is we do best; educating students, “preparing students of all backgrounds for life as well as vocation, for responsible citizenship, for service to all peoples and ultimately for the purposes of God’s universal kingdom.”