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50-50 Highlights: Schools in The Washington Monthly College Rankings

fish going different way like Washington Monthly college rankingsWith the increasing number of college rankings available, it’s easy to forget that the US News Best College Rankings reigned without competition for 20 years. In 2005, The Washington Monthly published its alternative college rankings designed to evaluate the value of colleges as a social institution. For 10 years, The Washington Monthly College Rankings have been asking what can colleges do for society rather than ranking them on the quality of their students.

Generally speaking, The Washington Monthly considers three areas for its rankings. The first is social mobility-do the schools graduate students at a reasonable price? Given that the majority of colleges are either public or non-profit institutions, this should be a given. It’s The Washington Monthly rankings that introduced the concept of expected graduation rates.

The second area has to do with the college’s role in economic growth and contributing to human knowledge. This is measured in terms of research and information on advanced degrees. The third area is service. Do the colleges encourage students to give back to or serve the community? These measures include participation in ROTC and the Peace Corp.

Measuring colleges by these factors generates a very different looking set of college rankings. Among the top 10 National Universities, only two show up on The Washington Monthly’s and US News’ lists–Stanford and Harvard. Only four are in the top 20 for both lists.

In the case of national Liberal Arts Colleges, four colleges are on the top 10 in both lists, 12 for the top 20. Just goes to show you can eliminate reputation from the rankings and still see some familiar faces–maybe because their reputations are actually well deserved.

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While The Washington Monthly college rankings have done an admirable job of highlighting the limitations of the US News rankings, they are not without their own limitations. The Washington Monthly rankings give equal weight to all three areas considered. This means that some schools that are actually pretty expensive and without generous financial aid rank fairly high. Given that students are supposed to be the primary focus of colleges, I would like to see that area weighted more heavily.

There are other issues as well with the rankings. However, unlike US News Best College Rankings, you can visit The Washington Monthly website and view all of the information without paying. In the table below, I list the 109 50-50 colleges that ranked in the top 75 of The Washington Monthly’s college rankings.

Just looking at this limited selection of schools illustrates some of the methodologies limitations. Among all private colleges, the average net price for families with incomes of less than $30,000 is $17,520. In the table below, 18 schools had an average net price of over $20,000 for this income category.

The average percentage of freshman taking out non-federal loans is 9.5% for private schools for an average of $11,591. There are 14 50-50 schools where 10% or more of freshman taking loans averaging $12,000 or more. Other schools are in the bottom 5% of the nation in the percentage of freshman receiving Pell Grants. Just how much should economic and service contributions off-set limited access to education opportunity?

The table below uses information that may not be from the same year as used by Washington Monthly to calculate the rankings. As usual, the four-year graduation rate is used for private schools and the five-year rate for public.

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50-50 Colleges in the Top 75 of the Washington Monthly College Rankings
(Download PDF version)

4/5 yr
Pell Grants
Avg Net
Price After
Gift Aid
5BAMessiah CollegePrivatePA2701712225639
7BANorthwestern CollegePrivateIA1133533520633
11BAAsbury UniversityPrivateKY1326564819418
15BAMilligan CollegePrivateTN884523217371
17BATaylor UniversityPrivateIN1852652425126
22BACedarville UniversityPrivateOH3044612022648
27BALebanon Valley CollegePrivatePA1648682527296
29BAElizabethtown CollegePrivatePA1808712326528
30BAMartin Luther CollegePrivateMN702523815656
33BAFranklin CollegePrivateIN952534221401
35BACarroll CollegePrivateMT1349542123762
36BAOhio Northern UniversityPrivateOH2194532924002
42BAUniversity of Mount UnionPrivateOH2056533422063
44BADordt CollegePrivateIA1345543424028
52BAUniversity of Maine at FarmingtonPublicME1783534913649
53BAElmira CollegePrivateNY1188603322908
54BACedar Crest CollegePrivatePA640505119225
55BAClarke UniversityPrivateIA877593422675
73BACalifornia Maritime AcademyPublicCA1008572614300
6LACReed CollegePrivateOR1356701819424
10LACNew College of FloridaPublicFL793642512018
11LACKnox CollegePrivateIL1400712724274
21LACRhodes CollegePrivateTN2014741527755
24LACAllegheny CollegePrivatePA2125742626729
25LACKalamazoo CollegePrivateMI1446722225708
28LACCentre CollegePrivateKY1378801525478
30LACSalem CollegePrivateNC827615116068
32LACEarlham CollegePrivateIN1045593420719
35LACWhitman CollegePrivateWA150580934363
38LACWheaton CollegePrivateIL2378742225625
39LACCollege of Saint BenedictPrivateMN2015752925527
40LACSt Olaf CollegePrivateMN3081831526915
43LACAgnes Scott CollegePrivateGA897665419902
45LACLawrence UniversityPrivateWI1518692527387
46LACOhio Wesleyan UniversityPrivateOH1809542425876
47LACSouthwestern UniversityPrivateTX1519652724691
51LACIllinois Wesleyan UniversityPrivateIL2001722228044
56LACGustavus Adolphus CollegePrivateMN2423812424535
58LACGuilford CollegePrivateNC1928493828002
59LACIllinois CollegePrivateIL981563617873
60LACHobart William Smith CollegesPrivateNY2324741734302
62LACCentral CollegePrivateIA1340623022177
63LACWillamette UniversityPrivateOR1981711931622
66LACRipon CollegePrivateWI888603620602
67LACDoane College-CretePrivateNE1106513421638
68LACLake Forest CollegePrivateIL1571583525312
71LACOglethorpe UniversityPrivateGA992553820135
72LACDrew UniversityPrivateNJ1434653130606
75LACWhittier CollegePrivateCA1623633526188
1MasterValparaiso UniversityPrivateIN3136582621869
2MasterTruman State UniversityPublicMO5375702313060
3MasterCreighton UniversityPrivateNE3815671927057
6MasterTrinity UniversityPrivateTX2111721826013
7MasterStetson UniversityPrivateFL2692563421975
9MasterNazareth CollegePrivateNY1901593125997
12MasterWhitworth UniversityPrivateWA2317652225750
13MasterMills CollegePrivateCA922534226773
15MasterUniversity of DallasPrivateTX1365562327841
17MasterJohn Carroll UniversityPrivateOH2950652623924
19MasterPacific UniversityPrivateOR1729522927790
21MasterGrand Valley State UniversityPublicMI18686633415664
22MasterHamline UniversityPrivateMN2087604121641
25MasterPacific Lutheran UniversityPrivateWA3010552924489
26MasterSeattle UniversityPrivateWA4377591934340
26MasterSeattle Pacific UniversityPrivateWA3230543225990
27MasterWestern Washington UniversityPublicWA12942642314253
30MasterGonzaga UniversityPrivateWA4826711530181
31MasterThe Evergreen State CollegePublicWA3766533213147
32MasterConverse CollegePrivateSC671554418663
33MasterUniversity of RedlandsPrivateCA2702632628164
37MasterColumbia International UniversityPrivateSC511524216846
41MasterUniversity of EvansvillePrivateIN2290532621224
43MasterSanta Clara UniversityPrivateCA5338771238844
44MasterRollins CollegePrivateFL2366611732225
45MasterUniversity of North Carolina WilmingtonPublicNC11408682112089
47MasterUniversity of Mary WashingtonPublicVA3843731415074
50MasterUniversity of Northern IowaPublicIA9330622514299
54MasterMillersville University of PennsylvaniaPublicPA6584583315780
59MasterUniversity of PortlandPrivateOR3410702330273
61MasterVillanova UniversityPrivatePA6547861430587
66MasterMercyhurst UniversityPrivatePA2552543020752
68MasterJames Madison UniversityPublicVA17526801214521
72MasterUniversity of ScrantonPrivatePA3756752132348
74MasterWinthrop UniversityPublicSC4432524514941
2NatUniversity of California-RiversidePublicCA18205625611351
3NatTexas A & M University-College StationPublicTX39641752611323
7NatUniversity of Washington-Seattle CampusPublicWA2705078229559
9NATGeorgia Institute of Technology-Main CampusPublicGA13291761411864
18NatOhio State University-Main CampusPublicOH40020811917406
19NatUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonPublicWI28568791316536
27NatUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignPublicIL31516822116490
28NatVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityPublicVA23512801519096
33NATMichigan State UniversityPublicMI34838742114526
34NATArizona State University-TempePublicAZ34989552912380
38NatUniversity of UtahPublicUT17319492411702
42NATIowa State UniversityPublicIA26177632114095
46NatNorth Carolina State University at RaleighPublicNC21469682112129
50NatPurdue University-Main CampusPublicIN28659641913541
51NatUniversity of GeorgiaPublicGA24746802112862
53NATLoyola University ChicagoPrivateIL9339602829184
54NatSUNY College of Environmental Science and ForestryPublicNY1647692317491
58NatSyracuse UniversityPrivateNY14422692628917
66NatUniversity of ArizonaPublicAZ28401583014070
68NATMichigan Technological UniversityPublicMI5198582815434
69NATFlorida State UniversityPublicFL28910742715511
71NATColorado State University-Fort CollinsPublicCO20400592413487
72NATClark UniversityPrivateMA2270762425332
73NatUniversity of California-Santa CruzPublicCA15323695113748
75NATMississippi State UniversityPublicMS15048553215422

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