Colorado College pulls out of ‘Best Colleges’ rankings

News  /  Education

Colorado College (Photo by Helen Lewis)

Despite its high ranking, Colorado College has pulled out of U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges,” saying flawed methodology means the annual list equates “institutional wealth and privilege” with academic quality.

CC sits at No. 27 in U.S. News’ national liberal arts colleges rankings, but says the rankings’ methodology goes against the university’s values.

“Pulling out of U.S. News & World Report demonstrates in concrete steps our commitment to antiracism, equity, and inclusion,” said Pedro de Araujo, dean of the college, “and it better aligns our institutional values to our actions.”

A news release from CC says U.S. News & World Report emphasizes high school rank and standardized test scores “as the pinnacles of academic quality, creating perverse incentives for schools to provide ‘merit’ aid at the expense of need-based aid.” 

Colorado College is one of only 75 higher education institutions — and the only one in Colorado — to meet full demonstrated need, the release says.’s “Ultimate List of the Nation’s Most Generous Colleges” explains that a school that meets full demonstrated need “will provide an aid package [in grants and scholarships] that fills the gap between what a household’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is and a school’s cost of attendance.

“An EFC is what a family would be expected to pay, at a minimum, for one year of school. The financial aid formula determines what your EFC will be based on such factors as your income, nonretirement assets, marital status, number of students in college and size of the household.”

CC says its leadership believes U.S. News & World Report’s methodology hinders social mobility by weighing the proportion of students with debt and the total amount of debt at graduation, creating incentives to admit wealthy students who can attend without incurring debt.

Colorado College President L. Song Richardson, herself a Harvard undergrad and Yale Law School graduate as well as an educator, lawyer, and expert on implicit racial and gender bias, said CC cannot reconcile its values with these metrics.

Richardson said taking “the courageous step away from U.S. News & World Report is part and parcel of leaning into our values, vision, and mission; and our commitment to moving forward with integrity and in a manner consistent with our aspirations for the future of CC.” 

CC wants prospective students “to choose a liberal arts school based on criteria that the rankings do not measure: analytical reasoning, creative problem-solving, critical thinking, comfort with failure and ambiguity, making meaning of the world and one’s place in it, exploring new ideas, and fostering creativity and innovation,” she said in the release. 

CC says its decision has the support of its board of trustees, faculty, staff, students, parents and alumni, based on the results of a recent survey polling the groups. 

The school says it will continue to share dashboards on its website with metrics such as graduation and retention rates, diversity and post-graduate success (among other things) that it considers important.

“I am proud of Colorado College and our community for this courageous decision,” de Araujo said. “At CC, we have a history of taking bold actions and inspiring students, faculty, and staff to think differently. I hope we inspire other higher education institutions to do the same.” 

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