Wartburg is behind nearly all liberal arts schools in Iowa in 10 different areas, according to the U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges Rankings report released this week.
Based on 10 different variables, including average freshman retention rate, class sizes, student-faculty ratio and acceptance rate, the college ranked 146 on the National Liberal Arts College Rankings.
This puts Wartburg lower than five of seven Iowa colleges ranked in the report.
Dr. Edith Waldstein, vice president for enrollment management, said this comparison shouldn’t hurt the college’s image.
“I think we’re all in the same ball park more or less, so that little bit of a difference doesn’t really say anything. It’s certainly idiosyncratic and certainly isn’t important,” Waldstein said.
Grinnell, Luther, Cornell, Coe and Central all ranked above Wartburg, with rankings of 17, 94, 97, 120 and 134, respectively. Simpson followed Wartburg, with a rating of 154.
“The college itself doesn’t put much weight on it at all,” Waldstein said. “We know they’re out there and we pay attention to it because it’s part of the higher education scene.”
Waldstein also said she believes the rankings are skewed because the criteria for the ratings changes each year.
Graham Garner, vice president for marketing and communication, agreed and said he doesn’t think prospective students or parents even pay attention to the report.
“It’s kind of what we like to call ‘inside baseball.’ The people who pay attention to rankings are generally people who work in higher education and then media who are reporting on the rankings when they come out,” Garner said. “That’s generally all I ever hear of people talking about it.”
Sophie Perez said she looked at the rankings to see where schools she was interested in ranked and how the criteria for the rankings was determined.
However, she said she did not think it was important in her decision to come to Wartburg.
“I care more about taking visits and learning one-on-one about Wartburg and any college in general,” Perez said.
“I don’t think it should matter that much because almost every list you have will have different variables and you can’t really compare these lists to each other because they’re all different.”
Garner said the college does look at data from studies that have been conducted by the college, contracted with other entities or formed through partnerships with other schools.
“We’ve identified those areas that are helpful for us to help us improve the education that we offer, to help us improve the student experience and to help us improve even our messaging,” Garner said. “I think Wartburg in general has an attitude of improvement,” Waldstein said.
“I think we want to get better. We know we’re good, we know who we are. I think we just all are building on our strengths and trying to get better. It’s just the right thing to do.”