There are multiple college rankings these days. Results vary widely based upon the criteria used to rate the institutions: prestige, social justice, affordability, and the like. Money magazine uses 24 factors reflecting upon the quality of the education, the cost of the education (net price after adjusting for financial aid), and outcomes (post-graduate earnings, economic mobility and return on investment).
I could give a flying fig about “prestige” — prestige in the higher-ed world doesn’t translate into anything I value — or “social justice,” as defined by leftists. Money magazine’s ranking comes closest to reflecting my values and priorities, which can be summed up as educational value added.
Of the 671 institutions that met Money’s qualifications (minimum size, reliable data, above-median graduation rate), here is how Virginia institutions fared under Money’s methodology.
University of Virginia — No. 3.
Virginia Military Institute — No. 5
Washington & Lee University — No. 11
Virginia Tech — No. 22
George Mason University — No. 72
James Madison University — No. 86
William & Mary — No. 104
University of Richmond — No. 137
Radford University — No. 296
Christopher Newport University — No. 315
Longwood University — No. 386
Virginia Commonwealth University — No. 443
University of Mary Washington — No. 470
Regent University — No. 483
University of Lynchburg — No. 501
Hampden-Sydney College — No. 509
Marymount University — No. 519
Roanoke College — No. 532
Virginia State University — No. 610
Hampton University — No. 618
Not ranked: Old Dominion University, Norfolk State University, University of Virginia-Wise. Expensive, elitist Ivy League schools are not on the list either.
To get a sense of how this list is compiled, consider the following metrics reported for:
University of Virginia
Acceptance rate: 23%
Estimated full price 2022-23: $36,700
Estimated price with average grant: $20,100
% of students who get grants: 48%
Graduation rate: 94%
Early career earnings: $77,050
Virginia Military Institute
Acceptance rate: 60%
Estimated full price 2022-23: $33,300
Estimated price with average grant: $20,000
% of students who get grants: 85%
Graduation rate: 78%
Early career earnings: $71,900
Washington & Lee
Acceptance rate: 25%
Estimated full price 2022-23: $79,800
Estimated price with average grant: $28,700
% of students who get grants: 61%
Graduation rate: 95%
Early career earnings: $86,020
It has not escaped my attention that three universities I frequently write about on this blog — UVa, VMI, and Washington & Lee — top the list. To a greater or lesser degree, all three have turned their backs on the traditions that helped make them great and, to a greater or lesser degree, have begun embracing corrosive leftist doctrines. In my interpretation, they are living off institutional capital built up over decades.
That said, it’s gratifying to see that they rank well.
Of concern: Virginia has many colleges and universities, both public and private, that rank very poorly. I don’t mind the fact that Virginia institutions don’t top the list of most prestigious universities, which function as IQ sorting machines, build up extravagant endowments, and generate high “peer” ratings that reflect a mutual admiration society. I do mind that some fall short on the “educational value added” test. That’s the test that any institution that receives public dollars must meet.