College ranks high on Forbes lists

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August 19, 2011

1:23 AM

Once again, the College of William and Mary ranked among the United States’ most elite universities. Forbes, which recently released its list of “America’s Top Colleges,” ranked the College as the second best public institution, the ninth best university in the South and the 49th best university overall.

The College fell slightly behind the University of Virginia, which was ranked as the 46th best university. However, the College outstripped two Ivy League universities, Cornell University (No. 51) and the University of Pennsylvania (No. 52), as well as Vanderbilt University (No. 53).

This is not the first high rank for the College, and students believe such consistently high ranks have implications stretching beyond borders.

“The U.S. has one of the most complex education systems in the world,” Director of International Students Stephen Sechrist said. “An American student knows the difference between a community college, a liberal arts school and Penn State, but that is not necessarily the case abroad.”

This year, the College has a record enrollment of 468 international students from more than 50 countries.

“Both overall rankings and categorical rankings play a roll in helping international students discern what school is best for them,” Sechrist said. “Since 2004 when I began working here, the population has more than doubled for international students.”

Students such as Eric Wong ’14 appreciate the continued recognition of the College and of U.Va.

“Even with the state budget cuts, it’s satisfying to know that both of these universities are able to maintain such high academic standings,” Wong said. “Having both of these options available to me as a prospective student made it easy for me to decide to stay in state.”

Others noted that a strong rank, while appreciated, is not something that College strives to achieve.

“We realize that people watch these ranks, and as there are so many types of rankings, we look for consistency, but no ranking captures the entire character of the community or what makes the William and Mary experience,” Director of University Relations Brian Whitson said. “And we do not shape policy or curriculum based on how that might impact one rating or another.”

Associate Provost for Enrollment and Dean of Admission Henry Broaddus also praised the College’s integrity in not conforming to standards set by any ranking system.

“We would never shape policy to meet the standards of any ranking,” Broaddus said. “Rankings have become cluttered with uncountable publications, each with their own approach and standards for ranking. However, students use rank as a way to landscape their choices, and William and Mary has always done well.”

Broaddus summed up his description of ranking with an analogy.

“Rank is like an honorary degree,” he said. “It is not substantive but it is always welcome.”

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