Methodology for ranking Christian colleges
There is no perfect methodology for ranking Christian colleges. Certainly, there are legitimate criticisms of virtually every approach one can take in college rankings. There is no doubt that the Faith on View Ranking of Christian Colleges is not perfect. But, it is the original and most complete ranking of Christian institutions available. Like any ranking system, this one has a bias. The biases and methodology are explained below.
It should be understood that these rankings are meant to rank colleges that are serious about their Christian commitment, what some may call Christo-centric institutions. There is no way to quantify the spiritual commitment or health of an institution. So, these rankings do not even try. The Council of Christian Colleges and Universities, Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, and The Newman Report were chosen as a starting place for selecting institutions to rank with additional institutions added where deemed appropriate. Some schools within these organizations were excluded from the rankings because they seem to follow a Bible school educational approach rather than a liberal arts or university model. This is not meant as a pejorative distinction but only as an acknowledgement of the differing educational goals.
No doubt readers will notice some schools missing. It can be difficult to determine which schools to include. There are many schools which have religious affiliation but do not seem distinctively Christian. These rankings are seeking to rank schools that have Christianity as their core and are distinctively Christian, what the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities calls “Christ-centered higher education.” It is likely that some appropriate schools have not been included in the ranking. If there are deserving schools which have been excluded please send a comment below and the institution will be considered for inclusion in next year’s rankings. In 2013, there were 191 institutions ranked while this year 207 institutions have been included. It is the goal of Faith on View to rank all appropriate institutions. Requests from institutions to be included in the rankings will be examined with particular interest.
It is important for potential students to evaluate the spiritual compatibility and health of an institution before choosing to attend. These rankings seek to rank the overall academics of an institution. But, that is not all that a Christian school is about. Further, even on an academic level these rankings are just a start. Each potential student should carefully investigate the academic, social, and spiritual programs and environment of the institutions they find interesting. There are some great schools that may not rank as well as their program deserves due to a variety of reasons. That can be particularly true of institutions that are especially strong in specific departments.
The Faith on View rankings evaluate four areas for the rankings. Each area constitutes 25% of the ranking. 1) Reputation, 2) Student Success and Satisfaction, 3) Faculty Resources, and 4) Student Selectivity.
Some rankings seek to not include reputation rankings while others rely heavily upon them. The Faith on View rankings assume that reputation is an important factor for colleges. The reputation speaks to the institution’s history and the perceived quality of education which can be important for employ-ability and admission into graduate school. Further, reputation can speak to intangibles which are not able to be easily quantified. The Reputation Ranking currently employs statistics gleaned from the US News and World Report rankings and the Forbes rankings. This means that schools not covered by either ranking suffer in this category. Additionally, the reputation rank also factors in the percentage of admitted students who choose to enroll in the institution. Next year's rankings are expected to also consider a peer score from other institutions ranked by Faith on View and the size of the applicant pool.
Student Success and Satisfaction
A quality education leads students toward successful completion of the program and satisfaction with their education for years to come. This category considers graduation, retention, and giving rates.
A base assumption of these rankings is that the faculty are the core of an institution. Faculty who are well cared for and not over worked are more able to properly instruct and mentor students. This ranking category takes into account faculty salaries, cost of living, course size, percent of faculty who are full-time, and student faculty ratios. Future rankings plan on adding to this area faculty teaching loads and percentage of faculty with terminal degrees.
Student selectivity is an important part of ranking a college. But, student selectivity should be broadly understood. The pedagogical concern in this section is how bright, motivated, and prepared students are to pursue college level work not how many students are not admitted. As a result while the acceptance rate is a part of the calculation here, more important are standardized test scores and student success in high school.
Statistics for the study have been secured from the US News rankings, the Forbes rankings, the American Association of University Professors faculty salary study, the CCCU faculty salary study, the National Center for Educational Statistics, educationnews.org, collegefactual.com, college websites, and from the colleges themselves.
The Faith on View Value Picks consider both educational quality and price. The rankings are arrived at through a formula that includes an institution’s net price (average cost to a student after financial aid) and the school’s Faith on View rankings.
College Major Rankings
This ranking looks at factors such as overall institution quality, the percentage of students in a major, salary's just out of school and mid-career, strength and breadth of related majors, program accreditation, and after 2018 will include a qualitative measure from other Faith on View ranked institutions.
In 2013, institutions were separated by size simply according to their undergraduate enrollment. However, it was decided that the graduate student body also, but to a lesser degree, has an influence on the culture of a school. As a result, for the purposes of dividing schools by size in this study undergraduate students are given full credit while graduate students each count as half. So, an institution with 1000 undergraduates and 1000 graduate students would count as having 1500 students. The size categories are as follows Very Large (7500+), Large (4000-7499), Medium (2000-3999), Small (750-1999), and Very Small (under 750)
The primary researcher for the Faith on View rankings is Rondall Reynoso. Rondall has worked as a department chair at an evangelical college and taught at both state and private secular institutions. He holds an MS in Art History, an MFA in painting and is currently working on a Ph.D. in Art History & Aesthetics. His computer programmer son, Kyle Reynoso, has functioned as his research assistant aiding in compiling the statistics and additional technical assistance. In the process of the developing the Faith on View rankings Reynoso has relied on the advice of several advisers including Scott Culpepper, Associate Professor of History at Dordt College; Travis Wright, Director of Assessment at Lincoln Memorial University; and David Burke, Senior Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Azusa Pacific University.
A Work in Progress
The Faith on View Christian College Rankings are a work in progress. They began in 2013 and underwent modification for the 2014 and 2016 iterations. Significant modifications are planned for the 2019 iteration as well. The rankings will continue to refine the methodology and to expand the rankings to include other appropriate institutions which are not currently included in the rankings. Faith on View is open to dialogue about how to improve these rankings in the future.
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