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Forbes.Com Names Top Colleges <> At 68th, Lawrence University Tops Wisconsin Schools

August 19, 2008

By ERICA PEREZ

In an effort to provide an alternative to the college-rankings giant U.S. News and World Report, Forbes.com for the first time released a list of top colleges based on “the quality of the education they provide, and how much their students achieve.”

Generally, large public schools didn’t fare as well as smaller liberal arts schools in the Forbes.com analysis. Wisconsin’s public flagship, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, for example, ranks 335th, while some relative unknowns sit high on the list. The all- male Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ind., ranks 12th, and Centre College in Danville, Ky., ranks 13th.

Lawrence University in Appleton got the highest marks of any Wisconsin college, ranking 68th.

Created in conjunction with Ohio University economist Richard Vedder and the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, the Forbes methodology looks at some unconventional sources in producing its rankings:

– 25% of the rankings are based on 7 million student evaluations of courses and instructors as recorded on RateMyProfessors.com, a Web site that students can use to score their instructors.

While Forbes.com compares the site to the course evaluations students fill out at the end of the year, some researchers have raised questions about the site’s merits.

A 2008 peer-reviewed journal article by four Central Michigan University researchers found that Web-based student evaluations of teaching “demonstrated a student preference for course easiness and instructor sexiness.”

– Another 25% depends on how many of the school’s alumni, adjusted for enrollment, are listed among the notable people in Who’s Who in America.

– The remaining 50% is based on the average amount of student debt at graduation held by those who borrowed; the percentage of students graduating in four years; and the number of students or faculty, adjusted for enrollment, who have won awards such as Rhodes Scholarships or Nobel Prizes.

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