Unlike U.S. News & World Report, which rewards institutions for prestige, wealth, and exclusivity, the Monthly rankings call attention to colleges that serve the best interests of the country as a whole—including by enrolling and graduating students of modest means.
It’s a mission that’s even more important in the wake of the “Operation Varsity Blues” bribery scandal. This year, the College Guide also honors those institutions that do the most to encourage students to vote.
The Washington Monthly’s unique methodology yields a number of noteworthy results:
While all of U.S. News’ top 20 national universities are elite private institutions, half of the Washington Monthly’s top 20 are public institutions. No celebrities were arrested, for example, for bribing their children into Utah State University, the Monthly’s 14th-ranked national university. Utah State ranks so high because it helps low-income students graduate and get good jobs. It doesn’t even crack the top 200 at U.S. News.
U.S. News lists the University of Southern California, a key player in the bribery scandal, at No. 22, but the university does not make it into the Monthly’s top 50. USC would do well to follow the example of institutions like California State University, Fresno, the 24th ranked national university, which enrolls an unusually large number of low-income and first-generation students and helps them graduate into good-paying jobs. Or Rutgers University’s Newark campus, which has a very high graduation rate given its economically and academically diverse student body and produces graduates who are more likely than most to get jobs and pay back their loans.
Among liberal arts colleges, Berea College, which has a historical mission of enrolling first-generation students from Appalachia, places fourth on the Monthly’s rankings. Washington and Lee University is the top-ranked liberal arts college, offering an unbeatable combination of inexpensive tuition and great job outcomes for graduates. Bryn Mawr College spends more on funded research than any other liberal arts college and is among the very best in graduating women who go on to earn PhDs.
The 2019 Washington Monthly College Guide includes yet another set of data: the institutions that do the best job of encouraging students to vote. With the contentious 2020 election season upon us, it is more important than ever that we are helping young people get to the polls. The good news is, there are more than sixty schools that received perfect scores according to our metrics. In this issue, the Monthly profiles two of them, showing how their students and staff work tirelessly and fight through barriers to make registering and voting as easy as possible.
The Monthly rankings also include the Best Colleges for Adult Learners, Best Bang for Your Buck, and Affordable Elite Colleges.
The issue also includes in-depth feature stories on:
- The most innovative ideas in higher education
- How to improve federal work study
- How elite universities are making millions off of summer pre-college programs of dubious value
Check it out!