Washington Monthly purports to measure the contributions of colleges and universities nationwide to the public good. And, according to the magazine, Stanford ranks No. 3 among national universities—behind the University of California-San Diego and Texas A&M.
Washington Monthly’s methodology claims to measure a college’s contributions in three categories: social mobility—recruiting and graduating low-income students; research—producing cutting-edge scholarship and PhDs; and service—encouraging students to give something back to their country.
The stats suggest that Stanford does particularly well in the research category. That category is based on five measurements: “the total amount of an institution’s research spending (from the Center for Measuring University Performance and the National Science Foundation); the number of science and engineering PhDs awarded by the university; the number of undergraduate alumni who have gone on to receive a PhD in any subject, relative to the size of the school; the number of faculty receiving prestigious awards, relative to the number of full-time faculty; and the number of faculty in the National Academies, relative to the number of full-time faculty.”
In explaining their intent, the editors of Washington Monthly take a swipe at U.S. News & World Report’s rankings, claiming that the magazine “rewards colleges for spending more money, raising prices and shutting out all but the most privileged students.”
They add, in an essay introducing the rankings, “There’s nothing wrong with rankings per se—colleges need outside scrutiny and students need information to make choices in a complicated market. But rankings that push individual colleges to heedlessly raise prices help precipitate a collective crisis that threatens to undermine institutions that are vital to the nation’s future prosperity and civic life.”
Instead, the editors say they are posing a different question: What are colleges doing for the country?
Visit the Washington Monthly website to learn more.