College Guide


August 23, 2010 12:52 AM An Explanation of Our Categories

By the Editors

Overall score: Overall score represents the combined score of our three metrics—social mobility, research, and service—where the highest is 100 and the lowest is zero. Each metric is weighted equally.

Social mobility: The first column shows the percentage of students receiving Pell Grants. The second shows the predicted rate of graduation, based on incoming SAT scores and Pell Grant percentages, versus the actual rate of graduation. The third shows the difference between the actual graduation rate and the predicted graduation rate—a measure of how well the school performs as an engine of social mobility (see “A Note on Methodology”)—arrived at by subtracting the latter from the former. (The higher the number, the better; negative numbers indicate subpar performance.) Rank follows in parentheses.

Research: The first column shows the number of dollars (in thousands) in total research expenditures. Rank follows in parentheses. The second shows the school’s ranking in the number of bachelor’s recipients who go on to receive PhDs, relative to school size.

Service: The first column ranks the school by the number of alumni who go on to serve in the Peace Corps, relative to school size. The second column ranks the school by percentage of students who serve in ROTC. The third gives the percentage of funds in federal work-study money that goes to community service (versus non-community service); rank follows in parentheses. The fourth column shows the school’s rank on a combined measure of the number of students participating in community service and a total number of service hours performed, both relative to school size. The fifth column shows the school’s rank on a combined measure of the number of staff supporting community service, relative to the total number of staff; the number of academic courses that incorporate service, relative to school size; and whether the institution provides scholarships for community service.

the Editors can be found on Twitter: @washmonthly.


  • steven on January 16, 2012 5:52 PM:

    Let me get this straight: Harvard with a 98% Graduation rate is rated #133 because the expected grad rate was also 98% (hey guys try harder next time!), while Jackson State University is ranked #3 with graduation rate at an amazing 47%, only because it was expecting to graduate 27% of its students. Oh yeah, that makes sense.

  • Concerned Student on February 13, 2012 1:59 PM:

    If my school, McDaniel college claims in their advertisements to be ranked by your report, as 6th nationally in public service, (, but they actually rank 6th in ROTC, and are tied for last in the other public service categories, is this an accurate advertisement?

  • West Point on August 27, 2012 1:52 PM:

    Where does out Military Service Academies stand. I can find them in your list. Surly, West Point and Annapolis have some ranking? And given that all go into public service and the graduation rate is also on the very high side of most. You're leaving out some of our best schools.