Inside Higher Ed reports today that approximately 80 presidents of liberal arts colleges have opted out of the ranking system established in 1983 by U.S. News and World Report. Inside Higher Ed reports that many presidents “view the magazine’s rankings as encouraging the wrong behaviors by colleges, while sharing information can encourage the right values.”
“The presidents agree that prospective students must have accurate information about colleges, and there is no single measure of educational excellence,” said Anthony Marx, president of Amherst College, via e-mail. “We would like to see the rankings improved, and we should provide our own more detailed information. I hope that any rankings or templates of data will drive us to compete on the quality of education, access and citizenship, not just how many students we reject or how much money we spend.”
As college presidents look for a new system for ranking their institutions, some have suggested working with the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities and the Council of Independent Colleges to create a better rubric for ranking schools.
One factor that U.S. News didn’t take into account was a school’s restrictions on freedom of expression. How much expressive freedom students will have at the school of their choice should be a prime consideration in the selection process, as saying the wrong thing at certain schools can lead to life-altering punishments. Whatever new system these colleges adopt, FIRE hopes that the categories of comparison will include freedom of expression. Until then, FIRE’s Spotlight provides just such a ranking system, and we encourage all prospective students to consult Spotlight before choosing where to spend their next four years.