On the back of a revised formula, Bowdoin has jumped from 38th to 14th in Forbes’ rankings of the best schools in America, released today. Among NESCAC schools, only Williams (2nd) and Amherst (13th) lead Bowdoin.
Since 2011, Forbes has emphasized post-graduate success (from 30 to 32.5% of the formula) and competitive awards (from 7.5 to 11.25%), and de-emphasized four-year graduation rate (from 17.5 to 11.25%). The rankings are compiled for Forbes by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity.
After last year’s rankings were released, former co-Editor in Chief Nick Daniels wrote in On College Rankings, “the critics came out of the woodwork.” (Meanwhile, The Daily Beast had decreed Bowdoin the “fourth-horniest institution of higher learning in the land”.)
So, in the interest of maintaining healthy skepticism in both good times and bad, take note: U.S. News & World Report, in its “National Liberal Arts Schools” category, ranked Middlebury 5th and Bowdoin 6th. Forbes ranked Bowdoin 14th and Middlebury 42nd.
To further illustrate how wildly rankings can vary, consider: Forbes ranked Boston College 26th, significantly above Dartmouth (34th) and Cornell (51st). U.S. News & World Report, in its “National Universities” category, ranked Dartmouth 11th, Cornell 15th, and Boston College 31st.
And this is not the first time that the Forbes ranking has exhibited extraordinary year-to-year internal volatility. From 15th in the inaugural 2008 ranking and 18th in 2009, the College plummeted suddenly to 40th in 2010.
The diplomas that 88% of us will receive within four years (95% within five) are assets that will fluctuate in value for the rest of our lives based on the fortunes of our alma mater, no matter how distant our fond memories become. Steel yourselves now for the hoverboard debauchery of the Class of 2030 to demolish our spot on the HuffPinTumblRompBomp Top 100.
- 32.5%: post-graduate success — alumni pay and prominence (e.g. in “Who’s Who in America”)
- 27.5%: student satisfaction — professor evaluations, retention rates
- 17.5%: debt — debt loads and default rates
- 11.25%: competitive awards — e.g. alumni receiving PhDs
- 11.25%: four-year graduation rate