Kat Namon ’22
The Wall Street Journal released the annual report on college rankings for 2020 on Sept. 4. The rankings are created based on 15 indicators that judge the colleges on four core factors. The four factors consist of outcomes, resources, engagement and environment. Outcomes account for 40% of the weighting, and includes factors like the average salary earned by graduates of the college and how much debt they experience. Resources count for 30% of the weighting, and take into account the amount schools spend and invest in student services and instruction. Engagement counts for 20% of the total ranking, and is drawn from a student survey. The survey investigates student opinion on interactions with other students and faculty and staff. Environment counts for 10% of the total ranking, and assesses the diversity of the university or college.
Director of Analytics and Strategic Initiatives David Andres commented that, “This year, the Wall Street Journal ranked Trinity higher on the overall list (colleges and universities) and among the subset of liberal arts colleges. In each of the four broad categories of the WSJ formula, Trinity was ranked higher than last year. Because the WSJ does not publish all of the individual metrics behind the rankings, it is unclear which specific changes, relative to other schools, resulted in Trinity’s improved rank.”
Changes to the ranking system were made this year, resulting in significant moves for certain schools in the ranking. According to the Journal’s rankings, best-value schools must rank in the overall top 250. Trinity ranked at 111 last year, earning a score of 86 in resources, 601-800 in engagement, and 476 in environment. This year, Trinity jumped up to a ranking of 87, earning a score of 95 in outcomes, 66 in resources, over 600 in engagement, and 393 in environment. Previously, the rankings took into account a value-added analysis of student loan default rates. However, this year an evaluation of the average level of student debt at graduation replaced the analysis. The debt levels include federal loans but exclude private student loans and parent PLUS loans. The graduation rates refer to students who are, as defined by the Education Department’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, first-time, full-time; non-first-time, full-time; first-time, part-time; non-first time, part-time.
“We are pleased that in most of the major national college rankings this year, Trinity rose significantly,” commented Vice President for Communications and Marketing Angela Schaeffer. “While rankings are not in themselves a sufficient reflection of quality, we know that rankings matter and that they are a reference point for lots of families in the college search process. So we do pay attention to them, and we continue to focus on improving measures that many rankings consider, such as retention and graduation rates, that are of strategic importance to Trinity and central to our academic mission.” In addition to the Wall Street Journal Rankings, the United States News and World Report also released their 2020 Best Colleges rankings. These rankings are based on factors that demonstrate academic quality, like faculty resources and graduation rates. The best value rankings take affordability into account.
Trinity ranked number 46 among national liberal arts colleges, with an overall score of 72 out of 100. Out of the best value schools ranking, which takes into account a school’s academic quality, as indicated by its 2020 USNWR Best Colleges ranking, and the 2018-2019 net cost of attendance for a student who received the average level of need-based financial aid, Trinity ranked number 49.