Rankings by Institutional Size
There is no perfect methodology when it comes to ranking colleges. Certainly, there are legitimate criticisms of virtually every approach one can take. There is no doubt that the Faith on View Ranking of Christian Colleges is not perfect. But, it is the most complete ranking of Christian colleges 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 seemed 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 which 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 you feel that a deserving school has been excluded please send a comment below and the institution will be considered for inclusion in next year’s rankings.
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 of the institutions they find interesting. There are some great schools that do not rank as well as their program deserves due to a variety of reasons.
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 institutions history and the perceived quality of education which can be important for employability 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. These means that schools covered by either ranking suffer in this category. To better round out this category in future rankings, I plan to include a survey of schools included in this ranking to allow for assessment from peers who likely are most informed about such schools.
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, 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, college websites, and from the colleges themselves.
A Work in Progress
The Faith on View Christian College Rankings are a work in progress. 2013 is the first year of the ranking and it is my hope to refine the methodology in future years and to expand the rankings to include other appropriate institutions which are not included in this year’s rankings. I am happy to dialogue about how to improve these rankings in the future. Please feel free to contact me.