The Washington Monthly has had the bright idea to challenge U.S. News & World Report's infamous college rankings by asking, in their words, "not what colleges can do for you, but what colleges are doing for the country." To that end, the magazine evaluated 245 national universities and 202 liberal arts colleges based on their scholarship programs, graduation rates, research facilities and "how well [they] promote an ethic of service to the country." The resulting rankings are witty (there are categories named "Report: Is Our Students Learning?" and "College Admissions as Literary Genre") and reach some surprising conclusions (by the Monthly's measures, both U.C. Berkeley and Texas A&M are great for America). But our favorite surprising conclusion was the one titled "We love the ladies"; as it turns out, women's colleges are also good for the country!
"Three cheers for Bryn Mawr College, 21st on the 'U.S. News' list but first on our list of liberal arts colleges," the Monthly report crows. "And the same to Wellesley, fourth on the U.S. News list but second on ours. On every front -- social mobility, public service, and research -- both schools perform near the top."
The report wonders, "Does their gender ratio, 100:0 women-to-men, have an influence? We don't know, but it doesn't look like an argument for admitting men."
Applauding two stellar, socially conscious single-sex colleges isn't the same as endorsing single-sex education generally, of course (and while these universities' great performances may not look like an argument for admitting men, that doesn't mean they'd perform poorly if men were admitted). Still, we're thrilled to see a different and more holistic approach to college rankings, and especially thrilled that venerable institutions like Bryn Mawr and Wellesley are kicking ass according to the revamped criteria.