In the annual US News & World Report Best Colleges rankings, Trinity appears in the National Liberal Arts Colleges category with about 225 other institutions. Although these rankings are among the most popular, there are still many myths and misunderstandings about how the rankings are actually determined. We are publishing this guide to provide our community with some insight into the inner workings of the US News rankings.
Shortly after her arrival, President Berger-Sweeney led the development of Working Goals for the first 18 months of her administration before launching the Bicentennial Strategic Planning Commission, which developed the Summit strategic plan. Trinity began a number of initiatives to strengthen campus culture and ensure academic excellence, along with a focus on admissions to recruit, enroll, retain, and graduate the best students. We believe that by focusing on the true indicators of a high quality education, the rest will follow.
4 Things to Know About the Rankings:
- Some of the data used in the formula are delayed.
As described below, some of the metrics are lagging indicators and represent students who started their Trinity careers as long as 10 years ago. This also means that it will take several years for the impact of any new initiatives to be reflected in the rankings. For example, the admissions statistics of the students who applied during the fall of 2019 were not factored into the formula until the rankings released in the fall of 2021–the same ranking that included the graduation rate of students who entered in the fall of 2011.
- The formula behind the rankings changes frequently.
Sometimes the changes are subtle tweaks to the relative weights of the components (see chart below), but occasionally entire components are added or removed, such as the introduction of ratings by high school guidance counselors in 2010 and subsequent removal in 2019; the addition of graduation rates of Pell Grant recipients in 2018 and graduate indebtedness in 2020; and the removal of the admissions acceptance rate in 2018.
- The group of schools being compared also changes.
Since the first rankings in 1983, additional schools have been added, some have been removed, and some others have been reclassified into a different category.
- The response rates to the reputation surveys vary.
With response rates about 34%, a relatively small number of individuals have a disproportionate influence on one of the largest components of the ranking formula.
The Ranking Formula
The formula (as of fall 2020) includes the following components, weighted by the percentages shown.