College Rises In Rankings

In the most recently released “U.S. News and World Report” college rankings, Dickinson College and nearby Franklin and Marshall College showed the greatest upward movement among all national liberal arts colleges. There was one exception to this, but it was noted as a special case. Dickinson and F&M each moved up eight places from 45th to 37th. In this year’s rankings, Dickinson and F&M also tied with Skidmore College for the rank of 37th place.

Despite this advancement in rankings, Dean of Admissions Catherine Davenport downplayed the college’s improvement, and suggested that the rank is just a small part of the Dickinson package. According to Davenport, “We are committed to the student learning experience and this means small classes taught by faculty, who are teachers as well as scholars.” Instead of looking at the college’s rankings, Davenport added that she would encourage prospective students to look at “[Our] collective efforts in communicating, student-faculty scholarship, global initiatives and sustainability.”

She notes that the rankings should perhaps be looked at as a side factor, after other aspects of the college have been taken into consideration. As she said, “Doing a college search is like writing a research paper- the best research is always from primary sources. Perhaps a college visit, conversation with a faculty member or current student, even a story from an alumni/us.”
Even though Davenport believes that rankings should not necessarily influence students’ decision to attend Dickinson, she admitted, “If families choose to rely on this ranking as a measure of quality, then our application numbers will likely remain constant or perhaps see a small increase.”

As a whole, however, Davenport wishes to remind students that “All ranking systems need to be taken in context, as they are a one-sized fits-all approach for measuring and comparing.” As she explains, “Although it is always better to move towards first position, the reality is that four points separates 37th from 50th scoring.”