Goucher, St. John's advance in magazine's ranking of top colleges

Hopkins drops spot, is rated 16th in group of national universities

September 07, 2001|By Mike Bowler | Mike Bowler,SUN STAFF

Goucher College in Towson and St. John's College in Annapolis moved from the third group of 50 colleges to the second tier in the annual quality rating of American colleges released yesterday by U.S. News & World Report.

Goucher and St. John's joined St. Mary's College of Maryland in the second tier of national liberal arts colleges.

The Johns Hopkins University was rated 16th in a group of national universities, down a tick from last year, while Loyola College was second among regional universities, two spots higher than last year. Towson University and Salisbury University remained in the second tier of that category, joined this year by Frostburg State.

The University of Maryland, College Park, failed to move into the top 50, although it moved up three rungs to 21st among public universities, tied with Ohio State and Purdue.

Princeton, Harvard and Yale are the top three "best" U.S. universities, according to the magazine.

"It's a wonderful thing for Goucher and long overdue," said the college's director of admissions, Carlton Surbeck. He said Goucher "has been working hard on retention of students, improving facilities, continuing the march to total co-education and improving our hallmark programs."

But Surbeck warned that the U.S. News annual survey of "America's best colleges" is only one of many sources prospective students should look at.

The magazine, whose annual college rating edition is a best-seller, uses a complicated formula that includes a poll of college officials. Rating criteria include a college's freshman retention rates, graduation rates, class sizes, SAT scores and rate of alumni giving.

The U.S. News ratings have been severely criticized in recent years, and some colleges have refused to submit information to the magazine's editors.

"There's something contradictory in a magazine making a mint off of a ranking system called `America's Best Colleges' that virtually ignores educational quality," Amy Graham and Nicholas Thompson wrote in this month's Washington Monthly magazine. Graham is a former director of data research at U.S. News.

The two writers said the magazine's annual guide "pays scant attention to measures of learning or good educational practices."

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