Liberal Arts College Rankings

liberal arts college rankingsLiberal arts colleges have been a center of the academic scene for decades, and liberal arts college rankings have become a recent staple in the college advisory world. A liberal arts college’s primary focus is on a well-rounded education rather than a specific, career-centered education, and the majority of these educational institutions are small in size and are centered around undergraduate students. Liberal arts colleges tend to offer a broad curriculum in a variety of academic subjects, such as social sciences and humanities. The degrees that these colleges offer are numerous and varied, but a basic liberal arts degree requires courses in nearly every area of study, including Mathematics, Physical Science, and English.

What To Look For In Liberal Arts College Rankings

Generally, the purpose of college rankings is to assess each respective college’s educational value and frequent research output, thus ensuring that both parents and students can plan their future liberal arts college experience with a high-quality educational institution. However, each college ranking has a slightly different scale. The generally agreed upon qualities of the best accredited liberal arts colleges are the quality level of the professors, freshman retention rates, research output, and graduation rates. It must be remembered, however, that due to the fact that there are several variations of these rankings, the majority of prospective college students and parents are advised to look at as many liberal arts rankings as possible. The specific characteristics of each liberal arts program can vary greatly, but each program is said to be purely unique, and the majority of ranking systems are mathematically based on the tenets of excellence previously listed. Since many liberal arts college ranking systems are mathematically based on rates and statistics, it is of the utmost importance to look at more than just one list of “the best liberal arts colleges” to get a feel for which colleges are in the true top ranks.

Examples of Liberal Arts College Rankings

There are numerous examples of college ranking systems both online and on paper. Forbes Magazine’s liberal arts college ranking system is primarily based on educational outcomes rather than reputations. Another liberal arts college rankings system done by US News & World Report is based on freshman retention rates and the quality of the faculty. While looking at various liberal arts college rankings, it is important to understand the reason for the ranking rather than simply taking it at face value.

Both US News and Forbes Magazine rank Williams College in Massachusetts as the first and second on the list, respectively. Both of these ranking systems also list Swarthmore College, located in Pennsylvania, in the top ten of the list, and these two rankings also list Amherst College in Massachusetts as one of the top twenty. Each of these liberal arts colleges on the list have unique qualities–Williams College offers an Oxford-style method of learning, whereas Swarthmore College is part of a Tri-College Consortium; the last school mentioned, Amherst College, is a member of the Five Colleges Consortium as well. Liberal arts college rankings systems each have their own unique qualities and should be thoroughly understood before they are considered.