New College was named a top public liberal arts college and a leader for graduating students with less student loan debt by the U.S. News and World Report’s 2016 college rankings.
New College ranked fourth-best among nine public liberal arts colleges and tied for 82nd-best overall liberal arts college among 245 nationally. It moved up one slot from last year in the best public liberal arts category and was ranked five positions higher for all liberal arts schools. It was also named 15th-best nationally for students who have the least debt at graduation, with 2014 graduates owing about $17,553 on average.
While many national websites and publications now draft their own college rankings, U.S. News and World Report’s is among the most popular. Administrators routinely chart their institutions’ numbers in the rankings, using high marks in promotional materials. The University of Florida, for example, still touts its 2013 U.S. News and World Report ranking as 14th toppublic university on its website. New College’s website boasts Forbes Magazine and Princeton Review 2015 rankings that name it a “best buy” school on its website.
Stephen Miles, provost and vice president for academic affairs at New College, said he is elated by the results but thinks the celebration will be short-lived.
“As much as we enjoy the rankings, we focus on things we do best,” Miles said. “We might take a moment to celebrate, but our focus is on high academic standards, rigorous curriculum, and to pay close attention to students and their interests.”
Editors with U.S. News and World Report said the rankings focus on academic excellence, with schools ranked on up to 16 measures of academic quality. The rankings emphasize outcomes, with graduation and retention rates carrying the most weight in the methodology at 30 percent.
Other rankings in which New College, Sarasota, Florida placed were for strong reputation among high school guidance counselors, at 57th nationally, and best college for veterans, at 60th nationally.
But the rankings also include figures that favor more established, wealthier colleges by measuring school reputation surveys, student selectivity, faculty resources, alumni giving, graduation and retention rates and total spending per student on education.
Miles said some of those factors put New College at a disadvantage compared to private colleges.
“We’re young and we’re small,” Miles said. “We just don’t have that many graduates. Schools that have been around for a long time, even if they’re small, have the alumni support.”
He added a high percentage of New College alumni, about 15 percent, give money to the school, second in the state to the 17 percent of Florida State University alumni who donate.
In the category of an education’s cost to the student, New College has earned praise in national rankings, including from U.S. News and World Report.
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