Why the rankings really are important
For those of us who've been here for a few years, we've
watched the fortunes of Bowdoin sometimes fall, but usually rise in the
annual U.S. News & World Report college rankings. In my own
time here, Bowdoin has been as low as number nine and as high as its current
While many ballyhoo and dismiss the annual rankings, I have
nothing but praise and enthusiasm for Bowdoin's climb in the rankings.
Whether we like it or not, many people will judge Bowdoin based partly,
if not in full, upon these rankings. Bowdoin owes it to us, the students,
to ensure that she remains high in these rankings.
In all honesty, you are probably going to receive a high
quality education no matter where you go within the top fifty or even
top one hundred liberal arts colleges. Sure Amherst is going to have slightly
better faculty and resources than Wheaton College, but they both cost
about the same and both offer a great education.
So why do the 89% of us who are from out of state come to
College administrators across the country, and Bowdoin is
no exception, always prepare two standard responses to the release of
the US News rankings. For those who have seen a drop in their rankings,
they will confidently dismiss the rankings as insignifigant and irrelavent.
How, they will say, can anyone reduce an academic institution to mere
numbers on a standarized scale and get an accurate depiction of the place?
Surely people will see beyond these non-important numbers. An attractive,
if a bit naive view of the world.
Those administrators whose colleges have gone up on the
scale will react exactly as our own Dean McEwan did. McEwan both treated
this as an acknowledgement of Bowdoin's greatness while belittling one
component of the US News ranking, the faculty resource rating (in
which we placed 77th). Even those colleges who do well in the ratings
feel an understandable dissatisfaction with something that people put
so much stock in that is beyond their control.
Bowdoin does not pay its faculty nearly enough. Our faculty
is the heart and soul of this institution and they deserve proper compensation.
So what should Bowdoin do? Raise the faculty salaries.
This would fullfill two of Bowdoin's obligations. First
to the faculty, to whom Bowdoin owes a great deal. Second to the students,
who are investing in a Bowdoin education. Bowdoin's star would rise in
the faculty resource rating and, consequentially, in the overall ranking.
This is not an indictment of the liberal arts education
experience. I am a great fan of the liberal educational experience and
hold a special reverance for its pursuit of academic and moral excellence.
This article is an attempt to argue from a practical perspective about
Bowdoin's relationship to the US News Rankings.
The enhanced prestige of the college, of which the US
News rankings are a vital component, will benefit us all now and for
years to come. So three cheers to Bowdoin for enhancing the value of our
investment, and let us hope that our stock continues to rise for years