The Top Liberal Arts Colleges Weigh In

A group of college presidents have responded to our annual college rankings, encouraging discussion of them.

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A group of 19 college presidents representing many of U.S. News's top-ranked liberal arts colleges came out with their own "President's Statement on College Rankings" on Friday that was to be posted on all their schools' websites.

The new statement was signed by the presidents of Amherst (Massachusetts), Bates (Maine), Bowdoin (Maine), Bryn Mawr (Pennsylvania), Carleton (Minnesota), Colby (Maine), Colgate (New York), Grinnell (Iowa), Hamilton (New York), Haverford (Pennsylvania), Middlebury (Vermont), Pomona (California), Swarthmore (Pennsylvania), Trinity (Connecticut), Vassar (New York), Wellesley (Massachusetts), and Williams (Massachusetts) colleges and Washington and Lee (Virginia) and Wesleyan universities (Connecticut). In the letter, the presidents acknowledge the benefits the rankings data provide, though they pledge not to publicize their school's rankings. It is a notably different tact from the letter circulated earlier this year by the Education Conservancy that was signed by the presidents of other colleges. Both the Chronicle of Higher Education and InsideHigherEd.com have already done articles contrasting the two letters.

In terms of the newest statement, U.S. News agrees with the college presidents when they say that "prospective students benefit from having as complete information as possible in making their college choices." We are glad that these colleges will continue to make their educational data available to U.S. News.

The new letter also says: "As for rankings, we recognize that no degree of protest may make them soon disappear, and hope, therefore, that further discussion will help shape them in ways that will press us to move in ever more socially and educationally useful directions." U.S. News will continue to meet regularly with college presidents, admissions deans, and other higher education experts at our Washington, D.C., editorial office in order to listen to their suggestions and criticisms. We have this "open-door policy" because we realize we need input from the leaders in higher education to keep our America's Best Colleges rankings up to date on ideas about the best ways to measure educational success.