How We Calculated the 2018 Best Colleges Rankings: Fuck It, They’re Just Alphabetical

By SARA BARONSKY Sep. 26, 2017

The U.S. News and World Report knows that the college experience can’t be measured by a series of data points. So this year, we’ve ditched all the complicated formulas and charts to get to academia’s true essence. This year, the “Best National Liberal Arts Colleges of 2018” is just a straight up alphabetical list. Hopefully, this shake-up holds our readers’ attention just long enough to remind them that we publish more than annual college rankings!

Best National Liberal Arts Colleges

  1. Amherst College
  2. Bard College
  3. Barnard College
  4. Bates College
  5. Bowdoin College
  6. Bryn Mawr College
  7. Bucknell University
  8. Carleton College
  9. Centre College
  10. Claremont McKenna College

Our Formula

To calculate our rankings, U.S. News gathered data from each college on 15 diverse indicators of academic excellence, such as graduation rates, faculty information and admissions statistics.

Then, we threw it all away, and looked only how each college’s name is spelled. But don’t get too hung up on that; remember, we rank a ton of other stuff, too! Like law firms! And diets!

How the Methodology Works

Schools whose names begin with “A” were given higher rankings than schools whose names began with “B,” “C,” or even “D.”  Once we had thoroughly weighed and compared first letters, we moved on to the second letters, rigorously assessing how early in the alphabet each letter appeared. By the way, why don’t you check out our Opinions section? There’s an article called “Why We Need to Talk More Openly About Suicide.” That seems interesting, right?

Sorry, Williams

Please keep in mind that this ranking should not be your only criterion when making a college decision. After you factor in campus feel, academic rigor, and financial aid, you may find that Grinnell is a better fit for you than Barnard. While you’re at it, you may also want to check out our news section! We’ve got lots of articles about Trump!

Is our methodology slightly different from last year? Yes. Are our rankings still the same objective indicators of something about colleges? Again, yes. Are we actively changing the criteria to get people talking about us? Absolutely.



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