February 21, 2013
Hamilton was recently ranked the eighth most valuable private college in the country by The Princeton Review and USA Today. Outranking nearly all NESCAC schools, Hamilton moved up two spots in 2013 from its previous ranking of tenth in 2012. Princeton Review evaluated 650 public and private institutions based on academics, financial aid and the “real cost” of attending the college.
Though Hamilton does not officially recognize rank of any sort, being named one of the most valuable colleges in the country is certainly a feather in our cap. Unlike The U.S. News and World Report rankings, which employs the vague term “best” in its collegiate rankings, The Princeton Review highlights the schools where students get the most bang for their buck.
The emphasis on financial aid opportunities, rated both by school-given statistics and student opinion of the financial aid they receive, reflect the shifting focus of prospective students and their families. Approximately 50% of students at Hamilton receive financial aid of some sort, with the average financial aid package amounting to $31,150. The implementation of the need-blind admissions policy in 2010 reflects Hamilton’s mission to provide the most valuable education for the most qualified students.
What the Princeton Review rankings lack, however, are an evaluation of the events, concerts, lectures, performances and other cultural and educational experiences that make our College even more valuable. Last week’s FebFest, for example, provided students with opportunities to participate in cheese, beer and chocolate tastings, two concerts, a comedy show, the annual Mr. Hamilton pageant and much more for little to no cost. Though more difficult to quantify than criteria like financial aid, the various events on campus should be taken into account to appreciate the real value of the College.
No ranking system developed so far has been able to accurately capture the value of the Hamilton experience. The Spectator would like to commend the administration again for refusing to acknowledge these rankings as they give such an incomplete picture of our time on the Hill. While we always like to see Hamilton ranked among the top colleges in the country, we must strive to continue improving in all aspects of campus life. Consistent improvement shows that Hamilton is really living up to its status as a valuable college, which serves as “a national leader in teaching students to write effectively, learn from each other and think for themselves.”