Washington Monthly’s 2020 College Rankings Are Out: Stanford, Amherst, Goddard And College Of The Ozarks Top Their Respective Categories
As the pandemic continues to rage and universities across the country postpone their fall openings or pivot back and forth between in-person vs. remote vs. hybrid classes, one fall semester tradition continues - the publication of the annual college rankings. Today, Washington Monthly released its 2020 rankings, promoted by its editors as “the socially conscious alternative to U.S. News & World Report.”
Washington Monthly ranks schools based on three equally weighted criteria that emphasize their contributions to the public good, rather than their exclusivity, reputation, or wealth. For those interested in a detailed description of its methodology, you can find it here.
Each of the three criteria is measured using several components.
- Social mobility is made up of overall graduation rates, the difference between actual and predicted graduation rates (based on the makeup of the student body), the percentage of students who receive Pell grants, the percentage who are first-generation college students, college affordability, adjusted median earnings ten years after graduation, and student loan repayment rate.
- Research is based on five criteria, including total institutional research spending, the number of science and engineering PhDs awarded, the number of undergraduate alumni who go on to earn a PhD, faculty research awards, and the number of faculty who are members in the National Academies.
- Community and national service also consists of five composites, including the percentage of students in campus ROTC programs, the parentage of alumni in the Peace Corps, the percentage of work-study grant money spent on community service projects, whether the institution provides a match to students receiving Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards for national service, and the extent to which a campus promotes and supports student voting.
Rankings are computed for four-year colleges in several categories:
National Universities - institutions that award a significant number of doctoral degrees. Here are the top 10:
- U. of Pennsylvania
- U. of California (San Diego)
- Utah State
Of the top 20 universities in this group, 11 are public institutions (five are campuses of the University of California). That stands in stark contrast to the 2020 list from U.S. News, where only one public university - UCLA - made the top 20. U.S. News’ 2021 rankings are set to be released on September 14; they promise at least one new feature - a first-ever ranking of institutions that employ test-blind admissions.
Liberal Arts Colleges - baccalaureate colleges that focus on arts and sciences rather than professional programs. Here are the top 10:
- Washington and Lee
- Harvey Mudd
- Claremont McKenna
Most noteworthy on this list is Berea College in Kentucky, which charges no tuition to its students, but requires all of them to work.
Here are the rankings for Washington Monthly’s
- Master’s Universities (institutions that award a significant number of master’s degrees but few or no doctoral degrees).
The top five were Goddard, Evergreen State College, California State University - San Bernardino, State University of New York - Geneseo, and Cedar Crest College.
- Bachelor’s Colleges (institutions that award almost exclusively bachelor’s degrees).
College of the Ozarks, Cooper Union, Hiram College, Ohio Northern University, and Goshen College lead the list.
Organized by five regions, the top-ranked schools were Harvard, Georgetown, Berea, College of the Ozarks, and California State University - Stanislaus.
This year, 157 schools made the list, almost as twice as many as last year.
Number one in social work is the University of Alabama; in criminal justice the leader was Texas Christian University; and in sociology, Columbia University topped the list.
The coronavirus pandemic has turned many aspects of a college education upside down, but it has also accentuated issues of affordability, social justice, student debt, and employment concerns for today’s college students. Because Washington Monthly’s rankings reflect criteria that are related to those topics, they may carry a special resonance this year. That is clearly the intent.
“Today’s college students are the most socially active in decades, and keenly aware of how the higher education system is screwing them,” said Paul Glastris, Washington Monthly’s editor-in-chief. “This issue of the magazine gives them metrics they can use to hold their own schools accountable, and ideas we can all use to turn the system around.”