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MC earns high marks in value, accessibility in new rankings

07/30/2014
Monmouth College appears in the top 15 of two listings on Money magazine’s new college rankings, released earlier this week. The magazine named 665 “Best Colleges,” with Monmouth ranking No. 14 in the Most Affordable Private Colleges category and No. 15 in Colleges That Add the Most Value.
 
“Receiving a high ranking in these two categories reflects positively on what we consider two of our areas of strength,” said Monmouth College president Clarence Wyatt. “Through a strong experience in the liberal arts and sciences, we give young people the opportunity to become lifelong learners who are flexible and employable, while also making it possible for students from all economic backgrounds to attain a top-notch private liberal arts education. These rankings, which are based on public data, serve as evidence that we are consistently providing opportunity and accessibility better than almost all other colleges in the nation.”
 
The college’s data shows that 99 percent of its 2012 and 2013 graduates were employed or enrolled in further education within six months of commencement. Additionally, a large number of the graduates found well-paying jobs, making a Monmouth degree a good return on investment.
 
The college has believed it’s been a leader in contributing to successful outcomes for its graduates for several years, particularly with the rise of its innovative Wackerle Career & Leadership Center and the way the center works hand-in-hand with Monmouth’s rising academic reputation. Now, the Money magazine rankings show just how successful the college is. Nine months in the making, Money’s Best Colleges ranks the 665 schools on 17 measures, based on the most recent research about what really matters in higher education.
 
Among its distinctive analyses, the list provides a more realistic way to price colleges, taking into account the complete cost of a degree rather than the cost of a single year. It is also the only ranking to evaluate which schools add the most value, given the academic and economic background of the students who attend, and to level the playing field on majors, to show whether graduates of a particular college earn more (or less) than average, whether they earned degrees in engineering or English.
 
The result, says Money senior writer Kim Clark, who created the rankings and wrote the accompanying story, “is a list of colleges – some famous, some surprising – that, according to the best data available, provide real value. College is expensive, but the highly rated colleges on our list are the most likely to do a great job of educating your student and helping to launch him or her into a well-paying job.”
 
Monmouth’s graduation rate outperformed its anticipated rate by 18 percent, while graduates’ earnings outperformed the expected amount by $3,500 annually. Graduation rates were predicted based on the rates of schools with students from similar socioeconomic and academic backgrounds, while expected earnings were calculated using the percentage of a school’s Pell Grant recipients, standardized test scores and the mix of majors at the school.
 
Among general findings of Money’s research was that higher-cost colleges do not graduate a higher percentage of students than similar but lower-priced colleges, nor do their alumni earn more.
 
To make the initial cut for the rankings, a college had to have a six-year graduation rate at or above the median in its category (public or private). Schools with a speculative bond rating from Moody’s (indicating financial difficulties), or for which there weren’t sufficient data available, were screened out. The remaining 665 schools were then ranked in three equally-weighted categories:
 
Quality of Education: Factors included the school’s six-year graduation rate, student standardized test scores, the student-faculty ratio, and Rate My Professors grades, in addition to the value-added graduation rate, which reflects the difference between a school’s actual grad rate and its expected rate, based on the economic and academic background of the student body.
 
Affordability: Measures included student and parent borrowing and student-loan default rates (unadjusted and value added), as well as the estimated average net price of a degree, a calculation that takes into account a school’s sticker price, total institutional financial aid, ¬tuition inflation and the average time it takes students to graduate.
 
Outcomes: This category includes several measures of early (within five years of graduation) and mid-career earnings (raw data from Payscale.com, plus adjustments for value added and the school’s majors), plus career services staffing.