Forbes Ranks CMC #26, One Step Ahead of Pomona
Forbes released its list of America's Best Colleges, and Claremont McKenna comes in at #27 -- importantly, one spot above Pomona College. Forbes, who worked with the Center for College Affordability and Productivity to compile the rankings, explains the methodology:
To answer these questions, the staff at CCAP gathered data from a variety of sources. They based 25% of the rankings on 4 million student evaluations of courses and instructors, as recorded on the Web site RateMyProfessors.com. Another 25% is based on post-graduate success, equally determined by enrollment-adjusted entries in Who's Who in America, and by a new metric, the average salaries of graduates reported by Payscale.com. An additional 20% is based on the estimated average student debt after four years. One-sixth of the rankings are based on four-year college graduation rates--half of that is the actual graduation rate, the other half the gap between the average rate and a predicted rate based on characteristics of the school. The last component is based on the number of students or faculty, adjusted for enrollment, who have won nationally competitive awards like Rhodes Scholarships or Nobel Prizes.
It's easy to see how the emphasis on faculty prestige could have affected our ranking-- not that CMC professors aren't notable and award-winning, but because the school places more emphasis on a professor's classroom responsibilities than their research pursuits.
Even more interesting is that Forbes cites Who's Who in America as an influencing factor. Wasn't it Forbes that published Tucker Carlson's tongue-lashing on Who's Who? Of course, it's ridiculous to say that because Forbes published Carlson's piece, they have to follow his decrees. But I have to concur with Carlson -- Who's Who is kind of a joke. And therefore probably shouldn't be a factor in college rankings.
I was most surprised, though, by the school winning the top spot. Yes, West Point, otherwise known as the US Military Academy, came in at #1. Forbes offered a snapshot of life there: "The best college in America has an 11:30 p.m. curfew. It doesn't allow alcohol in the dorms, which must be kept meticulously clean. Students have to keep their hair neat, their shoes shined, their clothes crisply pressed..." Now no question that West Point is a top notch and important institution, but that does not sound to me like my #1 college. And so the real takeaway from the Forbes rating is this: rankings are not always the best indicator of where one should apply to college.