Press Release
Tue Aug 28 13:46:29 2001 Pacific Time Wheaton College President Releases Data to Augment U.S. News & World Report's 'Best Colleges' Ranking

NORTON, Mass., Aug. 28 (AScribe News) -- Wheaton College president Dale Rogers Marshall today announced that the private liberal arts college would release data on its students' college experience to the public as part of an attempt to give high school students and their parents a more complete picture of living and learning at the institution than offered by the popular "America's Best Colleges" ranking published by U.S. News and World Report.

"U.S. News gathers data that says more about institutional wealth than it does about academic health," said President Marshall, urging other institutions to follow suit. "Rather than relying on measures of wealth and reputation alone, U.S. News also should be asking. What do students learn at your school? Do they believe they are prepared for the workplace or graduate school? How did they achieve their goals?"

Like more than 750 other colleges nationwide, Wheaton gathers information on its students' college experience through the Higher Education Research Institute, which is based at the University of California at Los Angeles. Unlike most colleges, however, Wheaton is releasing data from the survey that relate to student learning and satisfaction with the college education. The information from the 2000 survey, the most recent the college has available, can be accessed on line at http://www.wheatoncollege.edu. President Marshall urged other colleges to follow Wheaton's lead. "It's time for all colleges to make public how well their students learn, to let high school seniors and parents know what we actually do for our students. It might even goad U.S. News into analyzing this data, too. And they should. While large endowments say something about an institution's strength, the truest measure of success are graduates who are grateful for the gift of learning."

Wheaton's survey results show that the overwhelming majority of students graduate with high levels of satisfaction with their experience. More than 85 percent of the Class of 2000 reported a satisfactory experience, 88 percent cited overall quality of instruction, and lauded the college for the high level of faculty-student interaction it offers. "Because we strive continuously to improve, the college is not satisfied with what our students report," Marshall said. "But higher education depends on a society that values access to information and so we need to honor that commitment ourselves."

Former U.S. News research director Amy Graham criticized the magazine's ranking methodology, challenging the newsweekly to gather data on students' educational experience in an article co-written with Washington Monthly editor Nicholas Thompson. The survey, which gathered the data being released by Wheaton, was cited by Graham and Thompson as proof that it is not impossible or prohibitively expensive to gather such information.

Wheaton is a selective liberal arts college that offers a challenging academic program. Wheaton and Brown were the only two institutions in the U.S. to have students and recent graduates win a Rhodes, a British Marshall, and Truman scholarships in a single year. Four Wheaton students also won Fulbright scholarships while another won a Udall Scholarship.


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