An Explanation of our Categories: Liberal Arts Colleges

OVERALL SCORE: Overall score represents the combined score of our three metrics—social mobility, research, and service—where the highest is 100 and the lowest is 0. Each metric is weighted equally.

SOCIAL MOBILITY: The first column shows the percentage of students receiving Pell Grants. The second shows the predicted rate of graduation (based on incoming SAT scores, Pell Grant percentages, and other measures, see “A Note on Methodology“) and the actual rate of graduation. The third column shows the net price of attending that institution, which reflects the average price that first-time, full-time students who receive financial aid pay for college after subtracting need-based financial aid. The fourth column shows the rank on the cost-adjusted graduation measure, which is the difference between the actual and predicted graduation rates—a measure of how well the school performs as an engine of social mobility—divided by the net price of attendance.

RESEARCH: The first column shows the number of dollars (in millions) in total research expenditures. Rank follows in parentheses. The second shows the school’s ranking in the number of bachelor’s recipients who go on to receive PhDs, relative to school size.

SERVICE: The first column ranks the school by the number of alumni who go on to serve in the Peace Corps, relative to school size. The second column ranks the school by the percentage of students who serve in ROTC. The third gives the percentage of funds in federal work-study money that goes to community service (versus non-community service); rank follows in parentheses. The fourth column shows the school’s rank on a combined measure of the number of students participating in community service and the total number of service hours performed, both relative to school size. The fifth column shows the school’s rank on a combined measure of the number of staff supporting community service, relative to the total number of staff; the number of academic courses that incorporate service, relative to school size; and whether the institution provides scholarships for community service.

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