The College ranked above both Williams and Swarthmore in the categories of graduation and retention rate, the 2003 actual graduation rate, acceptance rate, financial resources rank, alumni giving rank and average alumni giving rate.
Williams and the College tied with a 97 percent average freshmen retention rate. The College and Swarthmore tied for the percentage of faculty who work full time at 94 percent. All three schools had a ratio of eight professors for every one student.
U.S. News ranked the College 15th in the category of faculty resources, while both Williams and Swarthmore ranked third. In the financial resources category, Swarthmore ranked third while Williams ranked fourth. The College only ranked tenth.
For the second year in a row, the College lagged in the categories of faculty and financial resources.
U.S. News fails to consider any additional resources that come from consortium arrangements-instead the report focuses only on on-campus resources. “The fact that we’re part of the five-college program hurts us [in the rankings],” said Dean of Admissions and financial Aid Tom Parker.
President Anthony Marx agreed. “In this instance, the major reason … that we are not ranked number one this year is because U.S. News does not credit us for the five-college courses and faculty that our students benefit from,” said Marx. “In my view, the College benefits significantly from the greater diversity of faculty and resources provided through the five colleges.”
For the second year in a row, the College also lagged in the category assessing the percentage of classes enrolling fewer than 20 students. At the College, only 67 percent of classes have fewer than 20 students. At Williams, 70 percent of classes have fewer than 20 students. At Swarthmore, 75 percent of classes are fewer than 20.
Additionally, six percent of classes at the College have more than 50 students. Only four percent of classes at Williams have more than 50 students. Swarthmore beat out both schools with only one percent of classes containing more than 50 students.
Although the College is focused on improving classroom and dormitory areas, maintaining small class sizes remains a paramount issue for College faculty and administrators. As a result, Dean of Students Ben Lieber revealed plans for a campaign to increase the number of faculty members on campus.
“Williams has done a lot of hiring,” he said. “We will certainly be paying attention to that issue as well, both because of the competitive pressure and because we believe that small classes are important for our students in and of itself.”
Both Lieber and Parker insist that any new campaigns are not plots to obtain the number one slot in next year’s rankings. They explained that they are merely seeking to fulfill the College’s needs.
“If ever the time comes that you’re doing something for the sake of U.S. News, something must be wrong,” said Parker.
Mike Harvus ’08 said that when he chose to apply to the College, and later when he decided to matriculate, he focused on the school’s academic reputation rather than on the U.S. News rankings.
Parker believes that the admissions process is not impacted by whether the College ranks first in the U.S. News report.
Instead, he thinks it is the College’s consistent ranking in the top two that benefits the College and draws many applicants who would not apply without such a ranking. “You have to acknowledge that there is some benefit [of U.S. News] rankings to the College,” he said.