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Top 10 LACs

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Replies to: Top 10 LACs

  • NYU2013NYU2013 1738 replies42 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,780 Senior Member
    Fact of the matter is that the triumvirate holds top spots in rankings consistently; that's not a matter of opinion. Williams is more selective than some of the other LACs you've listed. OP asked for the top 10 LACs, whether or not you're a "fan" of Williams or a particular program within Williams is not relevant when giving a ranking, unless you're trying to further a personal agenda. Fact of the matter is that Williams is one of the most selective LACs and has had a reputation for being one of the best for a number of years; to not include it simply because you believe (no evidentiary basis) it to be "lacking" in a particular area is simply a disservice to the school. I have no particular attachment to Williams, but I still recognize that most any ranking for T10 LACs should include Williams. If you want to make a ranking based on Foreign Language Programs, then feel free to state "for foreign language programs based on my own opinion". But, you posted as though it was just a general ranking and that your belief that Williams is "lacking" in foreign languages excluded it from your list without any detailed reasoning as to why. Williams is a T10 LAC, I don't think that's an arguable point. If you want to make rankings on non-academic influences, then I don't think you would have to include Williams. However, since every academic/stats-based ranking out there includes it as a T10, I don't see why you're excluding it.

    "Well, it's personal opinion" isn't quite going to cut the mark here because you'd be going against large consensus that Williams is a T10 and you would need substantial evidentiary basis to claim otherwise.
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  • GhosttGhostt 1648 replies19 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,667 Senior Member
    However, fact of the matter is that the triumvirate holds top spots in rankings consistently; that's not a matter of opinion.

    Nor is that relevant to this thread, which doesn't ask for an aggregation of different college rankings.
    Williams is more selective than some of the other LACs you've listed. OP asked for the top 10 LACs, whether or not you're a "fan" of Williams or a particular program within Williams is not relevant when giving a ranking, unless you're trying to further a personal agenda.

    Again, a personal agenda is exactly what we're supposed to be furthering, given that the OP can get the data you're talking about elsewhere, and was clearly not asking for it.
    Fact of the matter is that Williams is one of the most selective LACs and has had a reputation for being one of the best for a number of years; to not include it simply because you believe (no evidentiary basis) it to be "lacking" in a particular area is simply a disservice to the school.

    Having an opinion that contradicts some other opinion is hardly unfair to the thing you have an opinion about.
    I have no particular attachment to Williams, but I still recognize that most any ranking for T10 LACs should include Williams. If you want to make a ranking based on Foreign Language Programs, then feel free to state "for foreign language programs based on my own opinion".

    The fact that the lists in this thread are all based on people's opinions and colored by their particular values and areas of interest and expertise is implied. That's exactly what makes it more valuable than a regurgitation of US News' top 10.
    But, you posted as though it was just a general ranking and that your belief that Williams is "lacking" in foreign languages excluded it from your list without any detailed reasoning as to why. Williams is a T10 LAC, I don't think that's an arguable point. If you want to make rankings on non-academic influences, then I don't think you would have to include Williams. However, since every academic/stats-based ranking out there includes it as a T10, I don't see why you're excluding it.

    Because we're not putting together an academic/stat-based ranking.

    Because this is all a matter of personal opinion.
    "Well, it's personal opinion" isn't quite going to cut the mark here because you'd be going against large consensus that Williams is a T10 and you would need substantial evidentiary basis to claim otherwise.

    The OP didn't ask for a survey of available college rankings; the OP asked for posters' opinions.
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  • kwukwu 4743 replies16 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,759 Senior Member
    ucbalumnus wrote:
    And Amherst is relatively weak in math and physics (check the course listings).

    Its Physics alums end quite successful in whatever it is that one does with a Physics degree.

    Post-graduate information about all eleven Physics graduates of the Class of 2002:

    Stanford, PhD (Molecular & Cellular Physiology, 2005-????)
    Brown, MD (2005)
    CalTech, PhD (Physics, 2007)
    Northwestern, PhD (CompSci, 2010)
    UMass-Amherst, PhD (Biology & Ecology, 2009-)
    Yale, PhD (Physics, ????)
    Longy School of Music, MMus (2006)
    Princeton, PhD (Physics, 2008)
    Michigan, PhD (Physics, 2010)
    MIT, MSc (Physics, 2004)
    Harvard, PhD (Physics, 2010)

    Won't argue with you about Amherst Math, but don't mess with Amherst Physics.
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  • NYU2013NYU2013 1738 replies42 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,780 Senior Member
    @Ghostt

    If it's not an academic ranking then what are you ranking? This one has more trees than that one; this one has more things of the color green than that one. If you're going to rank something such a college it's, unless otherwise stated, assumed that you're ranking the academic quality of each institution as compared to each other institution. Especially when you're a website such a CC and the OP has asked for the top 10 LACs. If you want to rank things based on which has more green things or more grass, than you need to specify your criteria for having such a ranking. Otherwise, it's assumed that these rankings are supposed to reflect the academic quality and reputation of every school within the ranking, based on generalities; not program specific or how many things of the color green there are. If OP had wanted program specific rankings, OP would have specified. If OP had wanted ranking of who has more things of the color green, OP would have specified. However, since this is CC it would be rightly assumed that you're ranking the academic reputations and quality of each school generally, on non-specific terms.
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  • PAGRokPAGRok 548 replies9 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 557 Member
    In my opinion, in my particular order of preference,

    1. Swarthmore
    2. Amherst
    3. Williams
    4. Pomona
    5. Middlebury
    6. Bowdoin
    7. Carleton
    8. Wesleyan
    9. Davidson
    10. Washington and Lee
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  • GhosttGhostt 1648 replies19 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,667 Senior Member
    For me, the first 10 LACs that come to mind when discussing quality of education are:

    Amherst, Barnard, Bowdoin, Carleton, Middlebury, Pomona, Reed, Swarthmore, Wesleyan, Williams

    Harvey Mudd is more specialized, but it too belongs in this company if you're interested in science or engineering (in fact, if you're interested in getting a four-year degree in engineering, most of the schools above won't be of much use to you).

    There are many other schools I would consider just as attractive as the ones above, though: Vassar, Oberlin, Macalester, Claremont McKenna, Smith, Bryn Mawr, Haverford, Davidson, Grinnell, etc. Habitually overlooked schools like Agnes Scott and Morehouse should also be mentioned in these conversations.

    American kids are fortunate to have so many great options; choosing between them often comes down to subjective factors like fit because of how consistently strong they are academically.
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  • johnwesleyjohnwesley 4473 replies137 discussions- Posts: 4,610 Senior Member
    Well, I think we can argue about "academic quality" _ad infinitum_ and the most we'd be able to come up with are a few heuristic, surrogate markers for something we all wish we could put our finger on: how much do people actually learn in college? It's because we don't have the answers to that question that we rely so heavily on polls and ratings.

    Selectivity is an enticing method of separating the wheat from the chaff, but, what does it really reflect? Popularity? A college can be academically rigorous and not terribly popular. Chicago, Reed -- even Swarthmore -- are each examples of colleges that went through dry spells, in terms of popularity, largely because of their rumored grade-deflation.

    SAT median scores? Again, it says less than you think. Just because a college has a high median SAT/ACT median doesn't guarantee that its students learn from each other between classes. That, is the ostensible advantage of attending an elite college. Otherwise, all you're doing is having your high school grades, board scores and teacher recommendations certified and ratified by a prestigious degree.

    Furthermore, there really is no trick to charging $50,000 a year in tuition and drawing enough upper and upper-middle class students to fill out a class of high-achieving students.

    The real trick is in going a little deeper into your school's applicant pool in order to admit middle-class kids from city schools, rural schools and schools with only one college counselor for a thousand students, kids who will ultimately go back to their communities and run for Board of Ed, become members of the Chamber of Commerce and raise money for the United Fund. Those are legitimate markers as well and not always reflected in magazine statistics.
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  • shavree287shavree287 29 replies2 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 31 Junior Member
    edited May 2015
    If anyone thinks that Amherst, Williams, or Swat are leagues above a lower top 10 like CMC, please disregard that notion of academic elitism. The top 10s shuffle around all the time based on varying data (see here for 2001 rankings: http://www2.davidson.edu/news/news_archives/archives01/01.10usnews-rankreport.html). I once had my D looked down upon for choosing Carleton over Swat, and another incoming Carl I know who was chastised for choosing it over Bowdoin because Bowdoin is ranked (I know this is obviously a HUGE difference) 2 ranks higher. Perhaps if the student who talked trash about Carleton should ask to see the 2001 rankings in which - guess what - the schools were tied at 5th.
    edited May 2015
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  • couplemoreweekscouplemoreweeks 324 replies12 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 336 Member
    In no particular order:

    Amherst, Pomona, Williams, swathmore, Harvey mudd, Claremont McKenna, bowdoin, haverford, Wellesley, middlebury, Wesleyan
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  • LordSwagLordSwag 117 replies9 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 126 Junior Member
    Amherst, Williams, Swathmore, Pomona, Bowdoin, Haverford, Middlebury, Davidson, McKenna, Wellesley
    In no order
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  • lr4550lr4550 952 replies9 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 961 Member
    Carleton absolutely, hands down, should be on any top ten elite LAC list that one could possibly conceive.
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  • marvin100marvin100 8558 replies1246 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 9,804 Senior Member
    1. Williams
    1. Amherst
    3. Swarthmore
    4. Pomona
    4. Middlebury
    6. Bowdoin
    7. Harvey Mudd
    8. Haverford
    8. Wellesley
    8. Reed
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  • fallenchemistfallenchemist 24269 replies860 discussionsHonorary Super Mod Posts: 25,129 Inactive
    While I realize this thread topic doesn't particularly have an "expiration date", in the future please start a new thread rather than revive an old one. However, since there has already been several responses, I will leave it open.
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  • tk21769tk21769 10594 replies27 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 10,621 Senior Member

    Reed (seems to be the most rigorous LAC with the best curriculum & testing system)
    Carleton, Swarthmore (a little cut above the others in rigor)
    Amherst, Claremont McKenna, Haverford, Pomona (strong consortium LACs)
    Bowdoin, Wellesley, Williams (the most selective of the rest, but otherwise mostly indistinguishable in any very important way from about 30 other LACs)

    Harvey Mudd is as strong as any of the above, but it's really a science & engineering college, not a comprehensive "liberal arts" college.
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  • HiToWaMomHiToWaMom 1382 replies16 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,398 Senior Member
    Yes, I definitely include Reed. The college that has been punished by US News. I applaude their stance against the ranking system.
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