• Washington Monthly

Today, Washington Monthly published its 15th annual College Guide and Rankings, and Southwestern retained its place as the #1 Liberal-Arts College in Texas.

The publication aims to rate colleges and universities on the basis of “what they do for the country,” including “their contributions to social mobility, research, and public service.” Top-ranked universities such as SU were required to show excellence across all three categories, not just one.

The social mobility category includes considerations such as affordability, graduation rate, median earnings reported by alumni, and loan repayment rates. The research score is based on institutional spending on research, the number of alumni who go on to earn a Ph.D. in any subject, and the number of faculty receiving prestigious awards. The public service rating assesses the number of students serving in the military and the Peace Corps, the amount of money the institution spent on community-service projects, and the amount of programming devoted to motivating students to vote in government elections. By enrolling and graduating “students of modest means,” offering an exemplary return on investment, encouraging students to participate in civic engagement, and supporting innovative research and scholarship by both students and faculty, Southwestern earns its top ranking among the state’s liberal-arts colleges while having a wider impact on the nation.

The editors of the popular annual guide set themselves against rankings created by their primary competitor, the U.S. News and World Report, which evaluates institutions according to wealth, exclusivity, and prestige—criteria that Washington Monthly calls “easily manipulated measures.” The editors of the 2019 college guide considered 1,431 four-year schools—including public, private nonprofit, and for-profit institutions—within the 50 states.