The ‘Hot’ College scores again

The College can add another notch to its belt. For the 15th consecutive year, the school has been named the top public college in the Best Universities-Master’s grouping for the north by U.S. News and World Report magazine.

The College was ranked fifth out of all public and private schools in the same category, which included 165 colleges and universities.

In order for an institution to be eligible for qualification in the Best Universities-Master’s group, it must offer many undergraduate degree programs, some master’s programs and few to no doctoral degree programs.

The magazine, whose college guidebooks and yearly rankings have become invaluable to many parents and prospective students, considers many factors when determining college standings, in some cases including up to 15 different academic indicators. These include graduation and retention rates, class size, student-to-faculty ratio and the high school rank of incoming freshmen, among other factors.

“If you look at the most important outcomes (and) measures that are included as part of the rankings, we do extraordinarily well,” College President R. Barbara Gitenstein said.

“Two that are particularly important to me are freshman to sophomore retention rates and gradation rates,” Gitenstein said.

The College had the highest freshman retention rate of its group with 95 percent returning. The graduation rate of 82 percent was the third highest in the category.

Furthermore, 94 percent of the College’s freshmen ranked in the top 25 percent of their high school class, the highest of any institution in the group, and had an average SAT score of 1306.

Besides retention rates, U.S. News and World Report names peer assessment surveys as one of the most important factors in the rankings.

Administrators at other institutions are asked to review the academic superiority of various colleges and universities in the surveys, and the responses are weighted heavily in the ranking process.

According to the methodology section on the magazine’s Web site, “The U.S. News rankings system rests on two pillars. It relies on quantitative measures that education experts have proposed as reliable indicators of academic quality, and it’s based on our nonpartisan view of what matters in education.”

This distinction comes only a few weeks after Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges named the College as one of the 75 “most competitive” in the nation, including Duke University, Stanford University and the eight Ivy League schools. The College was one of only five public colleges or universities which shared this merit. “I think that these rankings and, even more significantly, the Barron’s rankings, will continue to have a positive impact on our reputation,” Gitenstein said. She points to the College’s academic programs as explanation for the recent high ranking, saying, “The consistency is because we continue to commit to our mission to provide excellent undergraduate residential programs.”