How Do They Stack Up: The 5C's Rank Well Once Again

It’s that time of year again, and the Princeton Review and Forbes Magazine have released their 2012 college rankings. Let's start with the Princeton Review. Each year, they rank the top schools in the nation on criteria ranging from the highly anticipated to the rather silly (Reefer Madness?). Without further ado, here are the numbers we’ve all been waiting for:

Claremont McKenna College

Once again, CMC performed admirably in the Princeton Review in numerous areas. Take a look:

  • Best Career Services – 6th
  • Happiest Students – 12th
  • Lots of Beer – 3rd
  • Most Politically Active Students – 14th
  • Most Accessible Professors – 13th
  • School Runs Like Butter – 6th
  • Great Financial Aid – 16th
  • Best Quality of Life – 6th
  • Most Popular Study Abroad Program – 20th

This list represents some good news and some bad news. While CMC has lost ground in some categories, it has also pushed forward in others. Notably, it has risen in the "Lots of Beer" category once again, from 5th last year, 12th the year before, and 20th the year before that, despite the efforts of the administration to soften our beer drinking reputation. This may provoke worry from school officials, who have been working hard to push CMC down on this list, but I would caution them not to overreact. While it is certainly true that Mr. Natty has more than a few friends (perhaps "Enemies with Benefits" is a better term) on campus, the ranking is based almost entirely on the perception of the student body, rather than on any hard evidence. Sadly, officials from the Princeton Review have not been digging through our trash cans and tallying up all of the empty cans they can find. As a result of this particular ranking method, a bizarre situation has arisen in which schools like Penn State and UC Santa Barbara rank lower on the beer drinking list than CMC. This seems dubious at best.

Rather than focus on this one ranking, however, the CMC administration should notice the many other honors on the Princeton Review list. In short, focus on the positive and take everything else with a grain of salt.

5C Roundup

Claremont Mckenna wasn't the only school that performed strongly in the Princeton Review rankings. Among the highlights:

Harvey Mudd College was ranked among the top three schools in the country, although in some less-than-flattering categories, including "Least Beautiful Campus" However, they also proudly demonstrated their academic dedication, and were first in the entuire country in the "Students Study the Most" category. Your buildings may not be beautiful, Harvey Mudd, but I'd like to see Yale students try to turn one of their dorm quads into a pool with a waterfall. Shine on, beloved Mudders.

Pomona College performed well, scoring 9th in the "Happiest Students" category and "Best Classroom Experience Category." In addition, they've moved up to 16th in the "Dorms Like Palaces" category (*cough Sontag Hall *cough *cough).

Even without a brand new resort-like residence hall (Seriously Sontag Hall? King sized beds? Can I transfer just for one of those?), Scripps scored highest among the 5C's on the "Dorms Like Palaces" category at 8th nationwide. This should come as no surprise to anyone who has been fortunate enough to stroll through the winding maze of climbing Ivy, citrus trees, and dorms capable of putting many French Villas to shame. Only at Scripps College can one stumble across a new secret garden just about every time they try to walk to their dining hall for dinner (which, by the way, earned them the 16th spot for "Best Campus Food).

Pitzer College as well earned a series of rankings which I'm sure will particularly please its student body. My personal favorite: 17th in the "Birkenstock-Wearing, Tree-Hugging, Clove Smoking Vegetarians" category (their words, not mine). They also earned 9th in "Most Liberal Students" as well as "Lots of Race/Class Interaction," and I would be remiss if I didn't add their 16th rank in the "Reefer Madness" category.

This is just a small sample of the rankings earned by our fave four neighbors (can we start calling them this, please?). To see the rest of them, check out the Princeton Review website.

In addition to the above rankings, all five Claremont Colleges were included in the “Best Western Colleges” and, with the exception of Pitzer College, the list of the “Top 50 Best Value Colleges of 2011.”

One again, the Princeton Review has brought forth its judgement from on high, providing us with rankings which we use to measure our own level of success as well as that of others. Or maybe not. When examining these numbers, it's important to remember that the Princeton Review bases its rankings almost entirely on student interviews. They explain it this way:

“The Princeton Review’s 62 college rankings are “top 20” lists entirely based on the company’s survey of students attending the 376 colleges in its book, The Best 376 Colleges. For the rankings lists in the 2012 edition, published August 2012, The Princeton Review surveyed just over 122,000 students at the 376 schools in the book (not at all schools nationwide). On the 80-question survey, students were asked to rate their own schools on various topics and report on their campus experiences at them.”

Perhaps their numbers aren’t the most scientifically precise in the field, but at least now we have an answer to the question “Which school thinks it drinks the most beer?”

Forbes

Forbes Magazine also recently released this year's college rankings, although their system is far less categorical. Rather, they list what their calculations identify as the top 650 schools in the nation in order. Under this ranking system, the 5C's received the following placements:

  • Claremont McKenna College - 12th
  • Pomona College - 23rd
  • Scripps College - 41st
  • Harvey Mudd College - 44th
  • Pitzer College - 130th

It is important to note that the Forbes ranking system is still in its infancy, at a mere three years old, and calculates rankings differently from many other institutions. For example, Forbes places a far greater emphasis on RateMyProfessor.com rankings than do other systems.

So there you have it: another year and another set of rankings. In this glut of statistics and numbers, it is easy to forget that the best college in the country for you will always be the one that satisfies your collegiate needs most. To both newcomers and familiar faces at the Claremont Consortium this year, focus on best fit, rather than best school.