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The Post  
Forbes releases 2012 Top College Rankings, Philadelphia area Schools in Top 20
  by: iradioal - Philadelphia, PA
started: 08/03/12 3:20 am | updated: 08/03/12 3:20 am
Forbes magazine has released it's annual rankings of colleges and universities. Forbes' list, although popular, sometimes gets criticized for it's ranking method. The rankings are based on five categories which include postgraduate success (32.5%), which evaluates alumni pay and prominence; student satisfaction (27.5%), which includes professor evaluations and freshman-to-sophomore retention rates; debt (17.5%), which penalizes schools for high student debt loads and default rates; four-year graduation rates (11.5%); and competitive awards (11.5%), which rewards schools whose students win prestigious scholarships and fellowships like the Rhodes, the Marshall and the Fulbright. These percentages are changed year to year. This year post-graduate and awards went up and 4-year grad rate went down.

The Forbes list is compiled to evaluate and rank schools so you can determine the best overall quality of a school and the return you can expect for your financial investment. Since Forbes is a business magazine, financial value (quality/cost) is their focus in ranking. Other rankings may take into account attributes such as student life or environment.

Topping the list this year is Princeton University. Small Mass liberal arts school Williams College dropped to second.

Locally in the Top 200, Swarthmore ranked 10th, UPenn, 17, Haverford 27, Bryn Mawr 52, Villanova 83, Franklin and Marshall 94, Dickinson 106, Lehigh 108, Muhlenberg 112, Gettysburg 119, Juniata 174, College of New Jersey 175, St. Joe's 180, and Rutgers-New Brunswick 198.

For the complete list visit

Haverford College was ranked 7th last year but dropped to 27th in this year's ranking. So what's the problem? The data used in Forbes' calculations for graduation rates was incorrect. The national database containing reported collegiate graduation rates said 55% instead of 88%. That would have had a significant effect of Haverford's scores. It's too late to change the ranking because the magazine's already gone to print. They'll have it noted on the online version.

That graduation rate calculation also hurts another local school, but this happens every year. A large portion of Drexel University's students follow a trimester system that puts them on a tract to graduate in 5 years while participating in internships and co-ops. Drexel's 4 year graduation rate is hardly a reflection of their student's on-time degree course completion. This year they are ranked 525.
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