Trinity’s Drop in the Rankings is Meaningless

In recent weeks, Trinity College’s ranking has dropped six spots in the rankings of liberal arts colleges according to US News World and Report. This has raised concerns in the school among the staff, and especially among the students. If you read last week’s issue of the Tripod, you would see that most students seem to think their school is diminishing. Most students seem to blame the drop in rankings on the partying culture, but there are other reasons, most of which contribute to Trinity’s unjustified drop from #38 to #44.
Trinity is first and foremost an elite academic institution. Glancing at the stats: 33% acceptance rate, 29 ACT average, and 3.75 GPA coming into Trinity, most would think that Trinity is a great school. However, in its league, the NESCAC, Trinity must compete with Amherst, Williams, etc., undermining the school’s value. In other words, this creates an almost overwhelming inferiority complex.
It is absolutely essential to note that US News World and Report is just one ranking system; there is no way to prove that it is more accurate than Forbes, for example. On Forbes List of America’s Top Colleges, Trinity College is #84 in the country. Sewanee University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee is ranked well below Trinity on Forbes at #134, but somehow ranked ahead of Trinity on US News World and Report by two spots. This proves that the rankings are subjective. There is no way to prove that Trinity’s level as a school has dropped.
The only thing that could logically make our rankings drop is our graduation rate. At 85%, it is still very high, just not as high as other NESCAC’s, such as Amherst (95%) and Williams (95%). This makes up for 30% of the ranking criteria. But does this really speak to the level of school. If anything, it says that Trinity has a challenging curriculum. One might argue that the graduation rate is lower because the teaching is not top notch or the professors aren’t acceptable. That cannot be, because the student-teacher ratio is 9:1. As a freshman, my Biblical Tradition professor was a great instructor who was also extremely qualified, as he graduated from Yale Divinity School. I could go on and on about the qualifications of all of the professors at Trinity, but that is besides the point.
The intent of this article is to encourage appreciation, rather than complaining. It is to assure students that a drop in the rankings means virtually nothing. The reasons could be as meaningless as staff salaries, a change in the ranking formula, or the unreliability of the data. It breaks my heart to see people buying into the inaccurate representation of Trinity by US News World and Report. Look at our notable alumni. Look at our programs. Look at our facilities. Look around you. Any student at Trinity is lucky to be here, and he or she should take pride in that.

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