The U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges 2018 edition was released Sept. 12. In these rankings, Sewanee moved up six places to #41 this year among the nation’s 233 national liberal arts colleges; other institutional categories include national universities, regional universities, and regional colleges.
The University is tied in the ranking this year with Skidmore College and Whitman College. Sewanee was also on the separate list of “High School Counselors Top Picks,” based on the counselor assessment results (three years in a row), and the “Best Value Schools” list.
U.S. News primarily ranks institutions based on reputation (peer assessment) and inputs (data regarding each freshman class, university financial resources, etc.), rather than on outcomes. A school’s ranking can move up or down several places from year to year, even with little to no change in the actual point total.
Notable improved scores this year were Sewanee’s faculty resources rank (18, up from 23 last year), graduation and retention rank (67, up from 69), and selectivity rank (50, up from 58 last year).
- The faculty resources rank counts for 20 percent of the total score; class size and faculty salary are the largest factors in this ranking. Sewanee’s proportion of classes with fewer than 20 students has increased.
- Sewanee’s six-year graduation rate went up by four percent and first-year retention was unchanged, resulting in the improved graduation and retention rank.
- The average test score is the largest factor in the student selectivity rank, followed by the proportion of freshmen in the top 10 percent of their high school class. Both measures went up this year.
The data used by U.S. News was reported in various years. For example, the selectivity score is based on last fall’s freshman class, the first-year retention rate is a four-year average, and alumni giving data is based on the 2014-15 and 2015-16 fiscal years.
In other recent rankings, Forbes.com says “a return on a college education is more than just a 4-year vocational exercise. Great colleges produce happy and successful alumni—who give back in droves. In fact, I consider this to be the core competency of excellent colleges.” Based on this measure, Sewanee ranks 50th on the Forbes list of “Top 200 Best-Loved Colleges.”