News & Publications
An Alternative to "the Rankings:" St. John's College Joins National Online Resource for Students and Parents
FOR RELEASE: September 26, 2007
CONTACT: Patricia Dempsey, 410.626.2539
St. John's College is one of more than 600 colleges and universities that are participating in a new online initiative, the University & College Accountability Network (U-CAN). The resource– which goes live September 26– gives students, parents, and other users direct access to objective data on higher education institutions. Coordinated by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU), U-CAN offers an alternative to the inherently biased “rankings” published in various national outlets each year.
On the U-CAN site (www.ucan-network.org) parents and prospective students can access the information that colleges and universities have supplied. Participating institutions enter information into a common template developed by NAICU, based on feedback from focus groups of prospective students and parents that were held across the country. The focus group comments have driven the format of the site, with information grouped in categories that can be easily compared across institutions. This includes data on: students, location, tuition, financial aid, size, majors, campus life, and links to each institution’s Web site. Both St. John’s College in Annapolis and Santa Fe are represented on U-CAN.
“This is St. John’s College’s response to the rankings game of ‘U.S. News and World Report’ and others; this is something better – factual, useful, and transparent. Each institution provides a large array of well-organized information that can be compared with others schools but not placed on a ‘one-size-fits-all’ scale,” says Chris Nelson, president of St. John’s College, in Annapolis, Md. “We have long objected to participating in the ‘U.S. News’ survey, because the information they seek is used to create a single-scale of ranking, something that we believe actually limits choice by suggesting that there is just one standard for a good education.”
For more than a decade, St. John’s College has declined to take part in the annual “U.S. News” ranking of colleges. This year, St. John’s was joined by several institutions in the Annapolis Group consortium of liberal arts colleges in a movement to withdraw from these rankings. Building on the momentum of this movement, these colleges have worked closely with NAICU to offer an alternative – the U-CAN Web site –which presents the unique mission of each institution and a description of what actually goes on in the classroom, along with qualitative and quantitative data.
“In the national rankings the ideal college for a student may be buried in tiers of ‘best–good–worst,’” says Nelson. “This is not beneficial to the colleges and universities and it does not serve the prospective students and parents who are seeking the school that is the right ‘fit’ for the student. Perhaps we can’t stop the rankings, but we can continue to speak to what is truly important in higher education.”
LIVE PRESS EVENT: For more information on the U-CAN live press event on September 26, 2007, or contact NAICU media relations: Tony Pals at (202) 739-0474 (office), (202) 288-9333 (cell), firstname.lastname@example.org