CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Washington Monthly magazine is out with its own ranking of U.S. colleges, a list that is meant to offer a serious challenge to the credibility of the almighty U.S. News and World Report college rankings. Both compilations try to measure the quality and academic performance of a campus. But Washington Monthly's is intended to smack down the newsweekly whose annual campus ratings are the bible but are growing increasingly controversial with some 60 schools refusing to participate.
This time around, Ohio State University comes out No. 12 in the nation overall (PDF). That spot places it one-notch ahead of MIT and betters academic bastions like Harvard, Penn, Johns Hopkins, Duke and the University of Chicago. Case Western Reserves holds 42d place, just behind Columbia. On the U.S. News list, OSU is No. 57 and Case 41, the highest rated campus in the state. That list has reinforced the concept the Ivy's are tops.
The monthly magazine's list is not quite as prominent as its newsweekly competitor's. It has only been around since 2004, but is growing in influence. The magazine looked at 242 national universities. Unfortunately, the University of Cincinnati is way down the list at 168. Cleveland State University fares even worse at No. 218, dead last among all the all the Ohio schools.
Liberal arts colleges are ranked separately, and Oberlin fills the 13 slot. Antioch was in 192nd place, the worst in the state and nearly the worst of its 201 peers across the nation. Antioch has financial troubles and plans to suspend operations next year. With such a poor ranking, its failings seemed fatal.
The editors at Washington Monthly explain they came up with their alternative to U.S. News in order to determine how well universities are delivering on their primary, public interest missions.
" . . . Rankings are meant to provide a guide not just to what colleges can do for you, but what colleges are doing for their country. For the third year in a row, we've sifted through reams of publicly available data to come up with what we think is a fair assessment of which colleges are living up to their public interest missions, and which aren't.
"We us three criteria that we believe best measure the impact schools have on the country. The first is social mobility: does the school do a good job recruiting and graduating poorer students? The second is research: is the school supporting the scientific and humanistic study that is key to our national strength by producing PhDs and winning research grants? And the third is service: how effectively does the school foster an ethic of giving back to the country, either through military or civilian service."