In case you missed it, Wesleyan has missed yet another opportunity for ranking and recognition. We might not care about U.S. News or The Princeton Review or The Huffington Post, but this one hurts. Westboro Baptist Church skipped over ole Wesleyan to select Vassar College as its “Ivy League Whorehouse” (despite the fact that Vassar is not, in fact, a member of the Ivy League), and Vassar students are taking the honor with pride.
In a press release and their schedule, Westboro attacks not just Vassar but the whole of American academia. They hone in on Vassar’s especially inclusive culture:
WBC will picket Vassar College to warn the students, faculty, and alumni that the satanic policies of this nation, especially those of the colleges and universities, are causing God to pour His wrath out upon this nation. Doomed american academics fancy themselves to be smarter than God. They promote the fag agenda with all their might and mock the word of God and His messengers at every turn. Let’s see how that works out for them on the Judgment Day!
God Hates Vassar College for following the satanic Zeitgeist by professing the soul-damning lie that it is “OK to be gay.” That is what the men of Sodom and Gomorrah professed and we see how well that worked out for them. WBC will kindly warn everyone affiliated with Vassar College that the Lord that destroyed those ancient cities on the plain yet reigns. Repent or Perish!
How did Vassar students react? Since our friends over at Mads Vassar are no longer with us, let’s take our own look.
Wesleying recently reported on the absolutely devastating blow dealt to the image, pride, and general magic of Wesleyan University when U.S. News and World Report dropped Wes from 12th to 17th on their “Best Liberal Arts colleges” rankings.
But that hardly compares to the trauma inflicted on poor George Washington University when the same publication destroyed all of the prestige, importance, history, and soul of GW in a single, violent instant: when it stripped GW of its ranking at 51st on US News‘ Best Universities list. According to NBC Washington:
George Washington University on Wednesday lost its U.S. News and World Report Ranking as one of the top national universities because the school revealed it had erroneously reported data on incoming students for more than a decade.
For the 2011 entering class, the university revealed last week that it had inadvertently overstated the number of students listed in the top 10 percent of their high school class by 20 percentage points.
Academic credentials of incoming students are one of the variables used by U.S. News and other publications to rank schools.
U.S. News chief ranker Bob Morse wrote online that … U.S. News handles misreporting of data on a “case-by-case basis” and that it had not changed any other school’s ranking in the current cycle.
Why so serious, USNWR?
Not that anyone cares, because these things don’t mean anything, and they’re all just so arbitrary, and because rankings do not even matter unless Wesleyan scores high, in which case it’s super-exciting and you can disregard all that other stuff, but…
Unfortunately, it’s just not our year. The U.S. News and World Report—which by the way, has ranked as the #1 most useless publication three years in a row in this list I keep in the top drawer of my desk—had the gall to rank the prestigious Wellesleyan College at #17, down five slots from last year (or really up, does anyone else ever think about that, because 17 is actually a greater number than 12, mathematically speaking?).
Here’s the list, but instead of focusing on why or how we dropped this year (cough overenrollment cough endowment-per-student figure), I thought instead I’d focus instead on what it means to be number 17. I didn’t get very far, so instead I thought about what it might mean to be a liberal arts college (not in like a 21st century-cost-efficient-MRoth sort of way).
In the quest to make us all look worthless and stupid, the New York Times is continuing to investigate the merits of an American college education. Apparently, we have too much free time and learn nothing half the time. We also don’t read or write enough. (Are we doing anything right?)
The NYT asked a bunch of experts what they thought, and my reading is that a liberal arts education is the way to go. There seems to be agreement that college should be more engaging, with smaller class sizes and intense work loads, attracting students who aren’t just there to find a job. Sounds familiar to me. But here’s what the experts say:
Sometimes, it’s hard to really articulate to your friends just how impossible life is going to a school with one of the highest sticker tags in the country. In the spirit of #firstworldproblems, however, an intrepid Smith College student created Smithies’ Complaints to service this exact need at a peer institution with a similar problem. The About section summarizes things pretty much perfectly:
Smith College is really excellent. But it is full of college students, and we love to complain. Comparatively, though, our complaints are probably not common ones.
I like to think of it as something like the ACB, but somewhat less conducive to trolling (not to imply they don’t have an ACB of their own). This normalizes content into a less erratic, but still generally enjoyable range of entries in easy-to-digest tumblr format.
Feast your New England small-college-going sensibilities on some choice examples:
With all this talk about rankings and all the fire that for-profit schools have come under recently, Gawker decided to try and rank the ‘real’ colleges whose students have amassed the most debt. They took total debt, which made bigger schools come out on top, giving NYU a not-so-surprising win.
But what about Wesleyan? What about debt per student, which is probably a better measure in the first place? We’ve always know that Wesleyan is an expensive place to go to, with one of the highest tuitions and comprehensive costs in the nation, but let’s take a look at the debt burden it places on the students. The “Median Federal Debt for Those Entering Repayment” for Wesleyan was $11,384.
Yes, Wesleyan’s $11,384 median looks meager compared to NYU’s behemoth of $28,649 (which isn’t even the highest). But what about comparable institutions? Our Little Three ‘frenemies’ Williams and Amherst have nearly identical medians at about $7,700 (are they even distinguishable schools anymore?), over $3,500 less than us. Nearby Connecticut College, however, has a similar if higher load. Vassar, who we seem to be compared to a lot, is also essentially similar to us in Median Federal Debt. Our “Estimated Repayment Rate” is lower than any of our peers though.
The source information comes from the US Department of Education’s ED.gov, which has other useful information. Click here for the relevant statistics directly from them. Click here for Gawker’s Top Ten Universities for Student Debt.
Sorry for the awfully Argus-y post.
They keep on comin’. In the past couple of weeks, we’ve been flooded with college rankings coming out. They mean so little yet so much. The Princeton Review and Forbes might have their rankings, but the most popular ones, from the U.S. News and World Report have arrived.
We come in 12th, tied with Vassar, in the Liberal Arts Rankings. The U.S. News & World Report rankings reflect more recent admissions statistics than Forbes used, such as our acceptance rate being 22% (that’s us 2013). We ranked #13 last year in the 2010 rankings, going up a spot this year. Read the page about Wesleyan there to see what they made of us and our several “sororities on campus.” It’s quite a unique portrayal of student life at Wesleyan.
On the list of Best Values for Liberal Arts Colleges we ranked #20, with almost 15% more students at #1 value Amherst receiving need-based aid. The average discount from total cost at Amherst was also almost 15% higher than at Wes.