Washington Monthly has issued its 2009 college rankings. Williams does ok (3rd nationally, behind Amherst and Mt. Holyoke) but as a corrective to the primacy of US News and World Report the methodology WM uses is still pretty dumb. The grand irony in all of this is that the email I received from Washington Monthly carried the title “College Rankings that Aren’t Ridiculous”. How about letting others decide the merits of your work, folks?

We’ve had this argument in the past (I think this might be my post, though it is listed as authored by “administrator”), but I will reiterate some of my main objections: Giving ROTC and the Peace Corps such primacy in “service” seems pretty dumb. Using how well a college fares on predicting graduation rates seems like an easy way to game the system, especially when the graduation rates in the end are so high to begin with. The idea of “social mobility” does not seem all that well thought out. And research assessments seem too-heavily based on inputs rather than outputs.

I guess I’ll sum up: Most college ranking systems are flawed. This one no less so than others. Williams does fine, even when the metrics seem loaded against it, but, in sum my opinion can be reduced to: Blah.

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