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Super Ranking: Top Colleges in Massachusetts

Monday, March 05, 2012


Massachusetts has not been shy about the depth and caliber of its colleges and universities. GoLocalWorcester has the ranking from #1 to #39 in Mass. It was no surprise that Massachusetts came out with four schools in the Top 10. And Central Massachusetts placed a school in the Top 20. Here are how the Massachusetts schools rank.

The best of the best

In GoLocal’s 2012 Super Ranking of the 89 top colleges and universities in the region, Harvard University emerged in the #2 position in the region, just behind #1 Yale, with MIT taking the #3 spot overall. With strong standings nationally on US News & World Report, Princeton Review, and Forbes, these powerhouses combined those scores with high numbers on student-oriented measures to dominate the Top 3 in New England.

Small but mighty

Two of the Commonwealth’s esteemed, small liberal arts colleges took their place in the Top 10 super-ranking. Williams College in Williamstown, often named to the very top of national lists, ranked #6 for 2012, and its rival Amherst College ranked #8. Both schools enjoy extremely high profiles nationally, and added to the Massachusetts’ dominating 4 schools in the Top 10. (Massachusetts was the only state to have four schools in the Top 10; Maine had 2, and the other four New England states contributed one apiece.)

Central MA schools: Holy Cross makes Top 20

Holy Cross Night Game

Top honors in from Central MA go to Holy Cross, which made the Top 20 schools in New England, coming in at #20. Clark University followed in the ranking at #30, with Worcester Polytechnic next in New England at #41. Worcester State was Central MA’s other school in the ranking at #59.

The importance of rankings

With the recent scandal involving California’s Claremont McKenna College reporting inflated scores to up its rankings, it must be asked: how serious are colleges about their standings in national rankings?

“Rankings can be a good starting point as students consider the many college options available and to begin narrowing down the list of where to apply,” said Ellen Ryder, director of public affairs at the College of the Holy Cross. “We are proud that we are ranked so high in many national lists, polls and surveys. But high school students and their families--as well as the general public--should educate themselves about the varying methodologies used in compiling rankings.”

“I find college rankings are most useful when they compare irrefutable measures of quality, such as graduation rates, across institutions using verifiable data sources,” said Kristin Tichenor, Senior Vice President, Enrollment & Institutional Strategy at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. “In those instances, rankings can be helpful to external audiences such as prospective students, as well as to internal audiences as an aid to institutional self-assessment.” WPI does make reference to rankings in some of its introductory materials, according to Tichenor, “to show third-party acknowledgement of institutional strengths.”

“On balance, the drawbacks of using the rankings outweigh their value in my estimation,” said Don Honeman, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at Clark University. “The biggest weakness of the rankings lies in the fact that they fail to capture the reality of the undergraduate student experience at most of the schools that are included,” said. “Equally concerning is the fact that many if not most of the measurements used to ‘rank’ schools have little or nothing to do with the quality of undergraduate education offered by the schools.”

Tichenor cautioned against rankings based on unsubstantiated data and subjective responses. “For example, there are actually rankings that use RateMyProfessor.com as a data source for the evaluation of faculty,” she said, “which tends to attract comments from students unhappy about poor grades in tough classes.”

The Top Schools in Massachusetts

How did all the Massachusetts colleges and universities fare, ranked within the state? Look for your school, below:

1. Harvard University
2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
3. Williams College
4. Amherst College
5. Wellesley College
6. Smith College
7. Mount Holyoke College
8. Tufts University
9. Boston College
9. Boston University
11. College of the Holy Cross
12. Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering
13. Brandeis University
14. Bentley College
15. Northeastern University
16. Clark University
17. Babson College
18. University of Massachusetts, Amherst
19. Emerson College
20. Hampshire College
21. Worcester Polytechnic Institute
22. Simmons College
23. Wheaton College
24. Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
25. Worcester State College
26. Emmanuel College
27. Gordon College
27. Massachusetts Maritime Academy
27. Stonehill College
30. Suffolk University
31. University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
31. Westfield State University
33. Assumption College
33. Bard College at Simon’s Rock
33. Lesley University
33. Merrimack College
33. Regis College
38. Endicott College
39. Springfield College
39. University of Massachusetts Lowell
39. Western New England University
39. Wheelock College

For the full rankings for all 89 schools in New England, go here.


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