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New college rankings reveal hidden gems


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Many students use school ranking to see how their prospective colleges compare to one another. Although these rankings can be a useful tool in the college search process, the criteria used to evaluate the colleges may not be pertinent to today's students, making some of these systems an unreliable indicator of what students can expect from their choices. However, the findings of this year's college rankings survey by nonprofit magazine Washington Monthly revealed some schools that offer exceptional value at reasonable rates and demonstrate a commitment to helping students succeed, reports The Christian Science Monitor.

Value over prestige
The magazine profiled and assessed schools across the country based on metrics not commonly used in school ranking systems. The number of students enrolled coming from low-income families, the level of assistance offered to help students graduate on time and initiatives designed to keep tuition rates down were among the criteria used in the report.

Although Washington Monthly has compiled its rankings since 2005, this year's results are particularly timely, following President Barack Obama's recent announcement to rate colleges based on similar criteria and award federal aid accordingly.

Kevin Carey, director of the New America Foundation's Education Policy Program in Washington and guest editor of this year's list, said that the rankings "ought to be of great interest to the vast majority of students going to college but not going to the Ivy League. Where do I have a good chance of graduating and won't break the bank?"

On the same page
According to the Washington Post, the editors at Washington Monthly are pleased that the president's goals for higher education in the U.S. appear to align closely with measures they have identified as a priority for American schools.

"Our argument - that higher education was increasingly expensive, biased in favor of the affluent and against the working class, largely unaccountable, and maybe much less rigorous than anyone was willing to say - I can't say it fell on deaf ears, but it certainly wasn't conventional wisdom," Paul Glastris, the magazine's editor-in-chief, told the news source.

While there are many factors that students who are preparing for college should take into account during their college search, the latest rankings published by Washington Monthly could provide them with the kind of information they need to make informed decisions about their academic future. Whether the president's goals will be achieved remains to be seen, but the fact that the Obama administration appears to be taking the matter seriously should be welcome news to prospective freshmen.

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New college rankings reveal hidden gems
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