About St. John's College
Why You May Not Find St. John's College in the U.S. News and World Report Rankings
St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland and Santa Fe, New Mexico, has chosen not to participate in any collegiate rankings surveys. We have asked U.S. News and World Report not to include the College, and we have not sent current information for use in the survey. St. John's College is opposed in principle to rankings. We want to explain to you some of our reasons: Rankings do a disservice to students and their parents as they search for the best college.
Making a decision about where to spend those four years is a serious and difficult one: we think that you need to know more about a college than the numbers used to come up with the survey results can provide. Rankings are almost always about popularity, prestige, and perceived quality of education, but they say virtually nothing about what happens after a student enrolls, that is, nothing about the educational experience itself.
Rankings attempt to quantify the value of an education. Although the collection and publication of information about such things as location, class size and programs offered is useful to students and their parents, the statistics used in the rankings do not offer that kind of information. How can the interaction between faculty and students be quantified? What kind of numbers tell you about the interests students discover as they explore new ideas and participate in scholastic and extracurricular programs? Do statistics reflect the skills in thinking, writing and analysis that students develop during the course of a well-designed and cohesive program of study?
Over the years, St. John's College has been ranked everywhere from the third tier, to the second, to the first, to the "Top 25" among national liberal arts colleges. Yet we haven't changed. Our mission and our methods have been virtually constant for almost 60 years. We would rather be ourselves and have our college speak for itself, than be a part of this fluctuating outside analysis. The distinctiveness of each individual college and the diversity among them tend to be lost in a scale of "best-good-worse." Research university or small liberal arts college? Religious affiliation or pre-professional training? Core curriculum or a multitude of majors? America's colleges offer all of these. A college that is exactly right for a particular student-- in its mission, mode of teaching, location, moral or religious character-- might receive a lower rank in the survey than a college which would not suit the needs of that student.
The kinds of data used to rank schools in the U.S. News and World Report survey are not indications of educational excellence. Some results highlight competitiveness, particularly in admissions. Examples are the acceptance to rejection ratio among applicants, average SAT scores, and class rank. Endowment per undergraduate, faculty salaries, alumni giving are indications of fiscal status, not necessarily of quality of education. So-called reputation rankings--in which college presidents, deans, and admissions officers rate other schools--are also misleading; they may overlook a fine but little-known college, and even if they do point out a good one, they do not tell you for whom that school is a good choice and why.