Validity of Princeton Review Findings Questioned

In the Princeton Review—The Best 351 Colleges, 2004 edition, Trinity College was ranked as number one of the 20 schools rated in the category “Little Race/Class Interaction” with regard to the question, Do different types of students (black/white, rich/poor) interact frequently and easily? In addition, Trinity was rated number one of 20 in the category “Town-Gown Relations are Strained” in response to: Do students get along well with members of the local community?

The College questions the validity of the PR rankings, given PR’s use of a qualitative and subjective survey to draw quantitative conclusions and because the conclusions run counter to findings of scientifically drawn surveys conducted through the Office of Institutional Research.

While for the need for improvement is inarguable, the “worst” ranking in both categories is clearly invalid. The Enrolled Student Survey for 2003 [Consortium on Financing Higher Education (COFHE)] shows that Trinity ranks in the middle of its peer liberal arts colleges in regard to the amount of diversity and is comparable with respect to relationships among racial and ethnic groups and satisfaction with their experience at Trinity.

Resolution of issues related to race and minority engagement and facilitation of interaction within the College community are a high priority for the College. An example of an event proactively planned to grapple with issues ranging from differences in race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation or physical ability was the recent Dialogue Day, the first event in a two-year “Pride and Prejudice” campus-wide initiative.

The Princeton Review conclusion that College relationships with the local community are strained (that students do not “get along well with members of the local community”) is of particular concern, given Trinity’s extensive—and nationally recognized—efforts to interact with the city of Hartford.

Trinity’s special relationship with its neighboring community is attested to in the recent W.K. Kellogg Foundation award of a $1.6 million bridge grant to continue the College’s leadership role in neighborhood renewal in Hartford. Nearly 40 campus- and community-based activities provide students with specific opportunities to play an active part in improving life in Hartford and beyond. Through the Community Learning Initiative (CLI), between 600 and 800 students take part each year in urban-oriented courses across virtually all of the College’s academic disciplines.

In fact, Trinity student organizations and individual students have been recognized by the state of Connecticut for work done in partnership with the community. One student-led service project, the Adolescent Mentoring Project, secured grants from the Lumina Foundations and Sovereign Bank for its efforts.

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