(Posted September 12, 2017)

Jason Jones
Jason Jones

HUNTINGDON, PA—The weekly news magazine U.S. News & World Report has rated Juniata College 106th in its 2018 rankings of the best liberal arts college in the nation.

            “Each year, our ranking number changes a bit, but our overall position has remained strong. This year’s gain reflects the work our faculty and staff does to provide students exceptional value for the cost, to help them earn strong outcomes for employment and graduate education, and to inspire our students to service and influence in their communities,” says James A. Troha, president of Juniata College. “While we are honored to be listed among the very best colleges in the United States, we also are committed to improving in ways that enhance the total learning experience for our students and to exceed the expectations of the students and families who choose us.”

            The U.S. News methodology considers several factors in its evaluation, including the rates at which students persist in their progress toward earning a degree (termed “retention”) and the rate at which they graduate; the ratio of faculty to students; student selectivity, or how many applicants are accepted; financial resources, which includes the value of endowments per student; and their controversial “assessment of excellence,” an index of reputation among other colleges and universities as well as the opinions of guidance counselors nationally. The assessment of excellence amounts to 22.5 percent of the total ranking.

            Juniata College was ranked at 106, along with four other liberal arts institutions, including St. Anselm College, in Manchester, N.H., Hope College, in Holland, Mich., St. Michael’s College, in Colchester, Vt., and Washington and Jefferson College, in Washington, PA.

           In this year’s rankings, directly following the colleges at 106 are Stonehill College, in Easton, Mass., ranked at 111th, followed by Drew University, in Madison N.J., Goucher College, in Baltimore, Md., Hanover College, in Hanover, In., Hollins University, in Roanoke, Va., and Principia College, in Elsah, Ill., all ranked at 112. The five institutions ranked 101st are Augustana College, in Rock Island, Ill., Lake Forest College, in Lake Forest, Ill., New College of Florida, Sarasota, Fla., Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio, and St. Mary’s College, in Notre Dame, Ind.

"While we are honored to be listed among the very best colleges in the United States, we also are committed to improving in ways that enhance the total learning experience for our students and to exceed the expectations of the students and families who choose us."

--James A. Troha, President, Juniata College

            According to guidelines established by the Carnegie Foundation and adopted by U.S. News, institutions that award at least 50 percent of their undergraduate degrees in liberal arts are defined as liberal arts schools.

In addition, in the U.S. News & World Report 2018 Rankings, Juniata College was named as an “A+ School for B Students” among national liberal arts colleges for the fourth year in a row.

            U.S. News’ “A+ Schools for B Students” rankings come from two values: the institution’s performance in the last U.S. News poll and the college’s average freshman retention rate.

            Juniata is one of eight colleges from Pennsylvania to be included in the “A+” rankings. The others are Allegheny College, Elizabethtown College, Grove City College, Muhlenberg College, Susquehanna University, Ursinus College, and Washington and Jefferson College.

            Juniata is one of 13 liberal arts colleges in Pennsylvania to be ranked in the top 106 nationally.

            Other Pennsylvania colleges in the U.S. News Top 106 are: Swarthmore College (3rd); Haverford College (18th); Bryn Mawr College (32nd); Bucknell University (33rd); Lafayette College (36th); Franklin & Marshall College (39th); Gettysburg College (48th); Dickinson College (51st); Muhlenberg College (71st); Allegheny College (82nd); Ursinus College (93rd); and Washington & Jefferson College (106th).

            The U.S. News list is the most anticipated ranking of higher education and signals the height of what some higher education watchers call “rankings season.” The U.S. News rankings appear weeks after the Forbes.com rankings, in which Juniata ranked 277 out of 650 colleges ranked by the business publication. They also appear after rankings posted by Money magazine, in which Juniata placed 336 out of 711 colleges and universities considered. 

            In calculating its rankings, Forbes.com states that is methodology favors return on investment. The factors include post-graduate success in terms of wealth and influence (35 percent), the average debt held by graduates and the ability to pay it back (20 percent), the student experience as measured by the number of students a college retains (20 percent), the graduation rate (12.5 percent), and academic success as measured by graduate degree attainment and scholarly recognition, such as Fulbright and Goldwater Fellowships (12.5 percent).  

            Money magazine ranks only colleges and universities it judges not to be in financial distress and that enroll more than 500 students. This year, 711 such colleges and universities were ranked. The metrics considered “quality of education,” which included factors such as the ratio of faculty to students, graduation rates, and the test scores and academic profile of entering students; “affordability,” which reviewed net price of earning a degree, student debt, student loan repayment, and affordability for low-income students; and “outcomes,” a measure including graduate and mid-career earnings, earnings adjusted for professions, social mobility, and whether graduates’ jobs “make the world a better place.”  

            None of the rankings systems are totally comprehensive; more than 4,000 colleges and universities operate in the United States and only the very best, the top 10 to 20 percent, are ranked by the majority of ranking systems. The United States is home to more than 500 private liberal arts colleges, placing Juniata among the top fifth of such institutions nationally.  

Contact Gabe Welsch at welschg@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.