APPLETON, WIS. — Lawrence University is Wisconsin’s top-ranked liberal arts institution and 59th overall among 249 national colleges and universities in U.S. News & World Report’s 2010 “America’s Best Colleges” report released today (8/20). It was the 11th straight year Lawrence has been ranked among the top 25 percent of the nation’s best liberal arts colleges.
Among the factors used in determining the rankings, Lawrence had strong showings in the areas of full-time faculty (94 percent), incoming students ranked in the top 10 percent of their high school class (41 percent), graduation rate (76 percent), acceptance rate (59 percent), alumni giving rate (43 percent) and percentage of classes with fewer than 20 students (73 percent).
“We’re certainly pleased that U.S. News, as well as all the other rankings, continue to recognize Lawrence as one of the premier institutions in the nation,” said Steve Syverson, vice president of enrollment at Lawrence, “but continue to remind students that the only ranking that should really matter to them is their personal ranking of colleges. Loren Pope, past editor of the New York Times Education Section, through his books “Beyond the Ivy League” and “Colleges That Change Lives,” spent his lifetime championing the notion that great, life-changing education occurs at all sorts of colleges across the nation, many of which are not household names.”
In its report, U.S. News also includes lists and rankings of a wide variety of other niche categories, without regard for size or type of institution. In a survey of guidance counselors from America’s best high schools who were asked which liberal arts colleges they think offer the best education to their students, Lawrence was ranked 42nd nationally. And in a reaffirmation of its status as a residential campus, Lawrence tied for 17th nationally in the percentage of students (98) who reside in university-provided housing.
“It’s particularly gratifying to see the confidence high school guidance counselors have placed in Lawrence,” said Syverson. “It’s their job to have expertise about colleges around the country and the quality of their programs.”
Williams College earned the magazine’s top spot in the national liberal arts college category for the sixth consecutive year while Harvard University repeated as the top-ranked institution in U.S. News’ national universities category, sharing this year’s top spot with Princeton University.
In compiling its annual “America’ s Best Colleges” guide, U.S. News & World Report evaluates nearly 1,500 of the nation’s public and private four-year schools, using data from 15 separate indicators of academic excellence such as peer assessment, selectivity, graduation rates, student retention, faculty resources and alumni satisfaction. Each factor is assigned a “weight” that reflects the magazine editor’s judgment as to how much that measure matters. Each school’s composite weighted score is then compared to peer institutions to determine final rankings.
Institutions are divided into several distinct categories. In addition to the best liberal arts college category that measures national institutions like Lawrence, other rankings are based on universities that grant master and doctorate degrees and colleges that are considered “regional” institutions.