Humanities and Liberal Arts School Rankings
Organizations and individuals have been ranking humanities and liberal arts schools for years. In the US, a whole industry has arisen focused on the ranking of universities and colleges, including undergraduate humanities and liberal arts schools. National and international organizations such as US News & World Report, The Princeton Review, Forbes, CCAP (Center for College Affordability and Productivity), The Washington Monthly and the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) based in Shanghai, China, regularly publish rankings designed to identify the "best" graduate and undergraduate schools and programs according to quality and value. Often, there is a separate section for liberal arts colleges, for instance Kiplinger lists the top 50 liberal arts colleges in its 100 Best Values in Private Colleges, and the National Research Council includes arts and humanities as one of their areas of ranking. Within the scope of the humanities and liberal arts, programs in specific fields like economics or international studies, may receive particular attention in various ranking publications. For a different viewpoint, you may also want to consult less "official" ranking resources like StudentsReview and Rugg's Recommendations on the Colleges.
Each of these publications, however, uses its own particular set of criteria for ranking schools and programs. In the case of the controversial Gourman Report, the author specifically refuses to disclose his methodology. How then should all these rankings be interpreted?
First, the ranking reports often come with detailed data to support conclusions, and while data collection may be criticized, the editors of these reports usually make an effort to ensure that statistics are comparable. So the reports can be used by you to compare institutions and schools on the basis of the data provided.
Second, the statistics that come from the rankings can also suggest topics that need to be studied in more detail. For instance if a school has a high admission rate but a low graduation rate, you may want to ask why.
All university and college rankings have one other thing in common: they are a list of institutions and schools. Scanning the list might suggest a humanities and liberal arts school that you had not considered or perhaps even heard of. Used this way, the rankings can help expand your list of schools that can then be researched in more detail.
However, you should never judge based on humanities and liberal arts school rankings alone. Humanities and liberal arts school rankings are important, but there are other factors that need to be taken into consideration. Schools that are less prominent may have a program that suits your needs better than any nationally ranked schools. Lesser known regional universities and colleges can also be a good choice if you wish to remain close to home during your studies. Often times, these schools have the strongest relationships with local employers. Once you have accumulated this information, you can create your own humanities and liberal arts school rankings.
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