Colgate Drops Two Spots in Prestigious “U.S. News and World Report” Rankings

Morgan Giordano

On Tuesday, September 10 the “U.S. News and World Report” released its 2014 ranking of the United States’ best colleges and universities. Colgate was number 20 on the National Liberal Arts College list, right behind a three-way tie for the 17th spot between Grinnell College, Wesleyan University and United States Military Academy (West Point).

Perennial favorites on the National Liberal Arts College list once again reigned. Williams College and Amherst College were numbers one and two, respectively, for the 2013 ranking.  They remained in the same positions in the new 2014 ranking.

Last year Colgate was number 18, tied with Colby College and behind nearby Hamilton College (number 16).  This year, Hamilton College rose to 14, while Colby fell to the 22nd position.

Although there are a myriad of lists ranking colleges by anything from financial aid to attractiveness of students, the “U.S. News and World Report’s” list has become the gold standard. The magazine and

online publication ranks colleges

using unique calculations taking in factors such as high school class standing, graduation rate performance and school reputation among peers and faculty. In recent years, colleges and universities have either admitted to or been caught reporting false statistics in order to boost

their ranking.

In 2012, Claremont McKenna College admitted that they had inflated the SAT scores they reported to “U.S. News and World Report” from 2005-2011. Prior to having made the admission, the college had been ranked number nine on the liberal arts list, where Colgate is also located. Despite the false information, Claremont McKenna College only fell one spot in the 2013 to number ten. In Tuesday’s list release, the college climbed back up to spot number nine, raising the question of what “U.S. News and World Report” really takes into consideration if they were not punished more harshly

for lying.

Claremont McKenna College was not the only United States higher education institution guilty of this.

In 2012, George Washington University (GW) was found to have been lying about how many incoming freshmen were in the top ten percent of their high school class. They

reported about 78 percent had, while the average was around 58 percent. GW was removed entirely from the 2013 National University list. This year, GW is back on the list, at spot number 52.

Other colleges try to manipulate their ranking for the “U.S. News and World Report” by delaying acceptance until January to students with low SAT scores, so they are not counted in the reporting. Others, like Baylor University in 2008, offered financial awards to students with high SATs to lure them to come to their school. The “U.S. News and World Report” does have fact checkers on staff. However, information is self-reported from the colleges and it is hard for the magazine to collect statistics on their own.

Even without cheating, schools are making major leaps. In the last three years, San Diego State University jumped up 31 spots to number 152 on the National Universities list. Since 2011-12, Howard University dropped down 38 spots on the National Universities list. Major movement is a norm for this particular ranking and makes Colgate’s

two-spot decline negligible.

Contact Morgan Giordano at [email protected]