Sarah Lawrence Removed from Ranks of Ranked

The new edition of U.S. News & World Report’s annual college rankings lists Sarah Lawrence College and 17 other liberal arts colleges in a new category labeled “unranked.” This classification, not used previously for liberal arts colleges, includes institutions that do not consider SAT or ACT scores, as in the case of SLC, and schools for which there were insufficient responses to the peer assessment survey as well as other unrelated criteria.

Other than not fitting neatly into U.S. News’ template, Sarah Lawrence has little in common with most of the other schools in that category.

Sarah Lawrence College officials met with U.S. News staff last fall to discuss the College’s nontraditional requirements for admission, including the decision in 2004 not to consider SAT or ACT scores. They were told that in the absence of data, the methodology used for calculating rankings would likely cause Sarah Lawrence to fall out of the designated “top tier,” which includes a majority of our peer or admission-crossover institutions. In its admission process, SLC relies heavily on students’ essays and high school record.

“Sarah Lawrence has a legacy of producing exceptional graduates, and based on applications and student performance since our SAT decision, student achievement continues to be excellent,” said Karen R. Lawrence, who this month became the College’s 10th president. “The same individualized attention that we give to students at SLC is given to applications in a holistic approach that doesn’t reduce individuals to scores.  It helps us recruit remarkable students and we expect to continue to do so.”

In a Washington Post op-ed this spring, President Emerita Michele Myers criticized the rankings for flawed methodology. She said of U.S. News in a New York Times interview that followed, “They will do what they do and we will do what we do.”

Noted President Lawrence: “Because we believe in transparency and think it is important for prospective families and the general public to have comprehensive, comparable information about colleges, we encourage prospective families to consult the various college guides, including the Fiske Guide to Colleges, Princeton Review, and Kaplan/Newsweek, which include narrative sections along with objective data, but do not rank schools on a single numeric scale. We also will be posting additional data on our own Web site, as well as through the Web sites of national higher education organizations.”

Sarah Lawrence will participate in U-CAN, a data comparison of institutions of higher learning soon to be launched by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.

Numerous presidents from the Annapolis Group, an organization composed of the nation’s leading liberal arts colleges  including Sarah Lawrence, expressed their dissatisfaction with the U.S. News guide at a meeting in June and are considering new ways to publish information about individual members.