Washington Monthly ranking system offers something a tad different

cover of Washington MonthlyThe magazine Washington Monthly has released its ranking of national universities—and Stanford has placed fourth.

Ordinarily, that wouldn’t be a big deal—especially since Cal ranked third (!)—but there may be something to the way Washington Monthly scrutinizes colleges and universities that is worth noting.

In its rankings, Washington Monthly assesses schools based on “their contribution to the public good,” specifically through three categories: social mobility, research and service.

According to the magazine, social mobility refers to a university’s recruitment and graduation statistics of low-income students; research refers to research spending and the number of bachelor’s degree recipients who receive PhDs; and service refers to how much a school encourages its students to give back to the community. Each category is weighted equally and added together for a score out of 100.

The University of California-San Diego earned a perfect score, followed by UCLA with 99 and Cal with 98. Stanford earned a score of 93. Among the categories, Stanford ranked high in research, which measures the production of cutting-edge scholarship and PhDs.

The magazine explains its perspective on its website:

“Unlike U.S. News & World Report and similar guides, this one asks not what colleges can do for you, but what colleges are doing for the country. Are they educating low-income students, or just catering to the affluent? Are they improving the quality of their teaching, or ducking accountability for it? Are they trying to become more productive—and if so, why is average tuition rising faster than health care costs? Every year we lavish billions of tax dollars and other public benefits on institutions of higher learning. This guide asks: Are we getting the most for our money?”

Visit Washington Monthly.