- Colorado College said Monday it will no longer participate in U.S. News & World Report’s undergraduate rankings, becoming the second institution to drop them in recent weeks over equity concerns.
- Officials said in a statement the rankings equate academic quality with institutional wealth and prestige, using methodology that perversely incentivizes colleges to offer merit-based financial aid — which tends to target wealthy students — over need-based aid.
- Colorado College President L. Song Richardson said in a statement the institution cannot “reconcile its values with these metrics.” Eric Gertler, U.S. News’ executive chair and CEO, said in an emailed statement the publication provides students with valuable data in their college hunt and that rankings should be one component of that decision making.
Colorado College’s withdrawal from the Best Colleges undergraduate rankings represents the second such rejection this month, after Rhode Island School of Design said the lists do not match its institutional values.
While colleges often tout their high placements on rankings, many administrators behind closed doors will complain about their prevalence in admissions.
Officials have long groused about some factors used to create the rankings, like a survey officials complete on peer institutions. An exodus of law and medical schools from the system since November has highlighted this dissatisfaction.
U.S. News said it will continue to rank law schools using publicly available data, but it did tweak its formula in response to the defections, relying less on the peer institutional survey. Some law schools said the change would not make them rejoin the rankings.
Richardson said the Colorado College wants prospective students to pick a liberal arts education based on criteria the rankings do not measure, like critical and creative thinking and “comfort with failure and ambiguity.”
“The students who choose to enroll at Colorado College want to learn in a highly immersive curriculum; want deep, authentic collaboration in small-learning communities; and want to participate as partners in the learning process,” Richardson said.
Judging from recent survey results, Colorado College’s trustee board, faculty, students and alumni back the decision, the institution said.
The college will continue to share metrics online including graduation and retention rates and post-graduate success. It ranks No. 27 on the newest version of U.S. News’ list of top liberal arts colleges.
Few other institutions have stopped submitting information to the undergraduate rankings in the decades they have been prominent. Notably, though, Reed College, in Oregon, did so in the 1990s. Reed’s backers allege the publication punished the college by dropping its ranking. U.S. News has since moved Reed up on the list.