Some Western Mass. Colleges Score Highly In New Rankings

Sep 9, 2019

U.S. News and World Report has released its latest list of the best colleges in the country, and some western Massachusetts institutions came out at or near the top. 

Williams and Amherst maintained the first and second rankings among liberal arts schools.

Smith College came in at 11th — where it was last year — while Mount Holyoke dropped a couple of spots to 32nd.

UMass catches UConn

UMass Amherst increased a few notches among national universities to 64th. It's now tied with UConn's flagship campus in Storrs, which has slipped a little in recent years.

In just the past year, UConn dropped slightly from 22nd to 24th among public institutions, a subset of the national universities list in the U.S. News rankings. 

But Lloyd Blanchard, who works in the office of the provost, said UConn is not too concerned.

He said part of the change can be explained by the fact that U.S News no longer counts some pension payments when calculating a school's financial resources. But he said the university is thriving on what matters most.

"Graduation rates are very high at 83, 84 percent," he said. "Freshman retention rates are very high at 93 percent. Those are what we care about. Those are the most important metrics for students and for parents."

Blanchard said a decline in alumni giving also negatively impacted UConn's ranking.

The rankings have come under fire for being based on subjective factors that change most years. U.S. News said the latest rankings weigh outcomes — like graduation and retention rates — far more than any other factor.