Rankings & Accolades
At St. John’s, we are skeptical of college rankings. We believe that the core characteristic of a liberal arts education is the rigorous intellectual exchange between full-time faculty and students in small classes discussing time-tested books. We believe the purpose of a liberal arts education is to help you build the life you want, including a meaningful career. Few rankings measure these values. The place to start when choosing a college is to define your values. What matters most to you?
Prettiest College Campus—Santa Fe
Everyone Plays Intramural Sports
Best College Town—Santa Fe
Best College Town—Annapolis
(Travel and Leisure)
Note: Rankings are aggregated from the last several years for both campuses.
Some rankings are run by for-profit companies that do not understand or value what we do at St. John’s. For example, the U.S. News & World Report College Rankings do not measure essential characteristics that matter to students who value authentic learning—even though they often collect the data that would help them do so. Some of the rankings mentioned above come from U.S. News data that they exclude from their overall rankings.
- Small discussion-based classes are essential to deep learning. U.S. News does not include class size in their official rankings, although they have the data to do so. As you can see above, if U.S. News did include small class sizes in their overall rankings, St. John’s would be at the very top.
- St. John’s is deliberately small, with fewer than 500 students on each campus. Our size is one of the reasons many students prosper here, and yet rankings from the New York Times and Wall Street Journal don’t even include St. John’s—or any other very small college—as though smallness is a weakness rather than the great strength that it is.
- We spend our money on keeping class sizes small and hiring full-time faculty, rather than subsidizing elite sports, expensive performance centers, and fancy dining halls through inexpensive educational options such as large lecture classes and adjunct instructors. While U.S. News ranks colleges based on how much they spend, the spending could be on anything.
- Our curriculum is demanding. You will learn a great deal here, including how to be a disciplined and resourceful lifelong learner. Most ranking agencies, including U.S. News, do not measure what students actually learn, or even whether they learn much at all. In fact, U.S. News regularly names St. John’s as among the best colleges for “undergraduate teaching” and then fails to include that essential characteristic in their overall rankings.
- At St. John’s we resist the notion that the only purpose of college is to prepare you for a specific career. In fact, we believe that college should give you the problem-solving and critical-thinking skills that prepare you for many careers, as well as for graduate school, knowing that you are likely to change careers many times and may well work in a job that does not even exist today. Most ranking agencies care only about how much money you make your first years out of college.
St. John’s is not a traditional college. We are deeply contrarian. We value learning for learning’s sake. We believe that students should be challenged to explore different ways of looking at the world and different ways of thinking.
We believe distilling college to the base metrics used by U.S. News and other rankings does a disservice to students who are seeking an education that will prepare them for life and not just for their first job out of college.
Your life’s work should come from something deep and purposeful within you, and this college is here to help you uncover it.
St. John’s College is proud to be included in Colleges That Change Lives, a book written by Loren Pope and first published in 1996. The list of 40 schools features distinct institutions of higher learning that offer an alternative to traditional university education.