For the second year, Converse College is the top-ranked school in the state in Washington Monthly magazine's annual college guide. The rankings, released Monday, order the country's institutions of higher learning based on their "contribution to the public good."
"The Washington Monthly ranking speaks to the exceptional value Converse provides her students, especially in helping to activate their voice and vision to advance dreams, careers and communities."
The magazine, which prides itself on rankings that differ widely from other college lists, looks into three broad categories for each school − social mobility, research and service − while categorizing the schools into four groups – National, Liberal Arts, Master's and Baccalaureate.
Converse College was named the nation's fifth-best master's university, according to the rankings. The school ranked highly in the number of students who go on to receive doctorates and current participation of alumni in the Peace Corps. Last year, Converse was third on the same list. In 2011, the school ranked 43rd.
Converse officials said they were thrilled by the news and said the unique rankings play to the school's strengths.
“This national recognition as a leader in research, service, and social mobility for two years in a row is an exciting start to Converse's 125th anniversary year. The Washington Monthly ranking speaks to the exceptional value Converse provides her students, especially in helping to activate their voice and vision to advance dreams, careers and communities,” said Converse President Betsy Fleming. “Such a nationwide accolade adds to the momentum of our recent gains and success stories — Fulbright scholars and Goldwater honors, two South Carolina Professors of the Year, significant undergraduate enrollment growth and the construction of new facilities.”
The Washington Monthly rankings, according to editor-in-chief Paul Glastris, are the magazine's answer to the U.S. News & World Report college rankings. Glastris, in a written statement, said those rankings rely on “crude and easily manipulated measure of wealth, exclusivity, and prestige. Instead, we rate schools based on what they are doing for the country, on whether they're improving social mobility, producing research, and promoting public service.”
The result is a ranking that differs largely from other similar lists. Yale and Dartmouth, for instance, are not included in the Washington Monthly top 50. In all, 32 South Carolina schools were named in the guide. Other local schools included Wofford, which was ranked 191st among liberal arts colleges; the University of South Carolina Upstate, which was ranked 186th among baccalaureate universities; and Limestone College, which was ranked 325th among baccalaureate universities.
In its methodology, Washington Monthly said each category was equally weighted. In the study, social mobility refers to the school's ability to recruit and graduate low-income students. Research is the college or university's production of cutting-edge scholarships and students who go on to earn PhDs. Service means encouraging students to give something back to their communities.
Another list, new to this year's guide, ranked schools by the best “Bang for the Buck.” That ranking included seven S.C. schools, with Converse ranking 171st and Wofford ranking 183rd among 349 schools.
For more information, visit www.washingtonmonthly.com.
This article was written by Drew Brooks of the Spartanburg Herald-Journal.