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The Wall Street Journal excluded Hillsdale College from its national college rankings. | Col­legian Archives

U.S. News and World Report released its list of the 100 Best National Liberal Arts Col­leges on Sept. 9, and Hillsdale College ranked 64th, a 12-point jump from last year’s rankings. On Sept. 5, the Wall Street Journal released its national college rankings, and Hillsdale was again excluded from that list.

The Wall Street Journal does not con­sider Hillsdale College in its rankings because Hillsdale “does not par­tic­ipate in the federal student aid program,” the Journal’s Senior Director of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Steve Sev­er­inghaus told The Col­legian last year.

Because Hillsdale does not accept federal funds, Hillsdale College student data is not listed in the Department of Education’s “College Scorecard” website, a data tool that lets users compare schools and where WSJ draws its rankings. 

“Hillsdale has not been included in the WSJ rankings because they require data on financial aid, indebt­edness, and graduate salaries which are drawn from the College Scorecard, which only ‘sees’ stu­dents who have taken federal aid,” Hillsdale’s Director of Insti­tu­tional Research George Allen said in an email. “Further, even if Hillsdale could provide equiv­alent data on student finances and out­comes, the WSJ rankings include data on race and eth­nicity of stu­dents and faculty, which Hillsdale does not collect and cannot provide.” 

In a letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal in 2015, Pro­fessor of English and former Provost David Whalen wrote, “The Wall Street Journal, like the U.S. Edu­cation Department, the White House, and much of the federal bureau­cracy, has appar­ently deter­mined that higher edu­cation in this country occurs only within insti­tu­tions oper­ating under the government’s intrusive, micro­managing hand.”

The Wall Street Journal ranked 801 U.S. col­leges, assessing the schools in areas such as student out­comes and engagement, school resources, and envi­ronment. 

Pres­ident of Hillsdale College Larry Arnn said if not for its exclusion, Hillsdale would excel in the WSJ rankings, 

“I expect we would do very well on the earnings mea­sures, but our stu­dents are not in the database,” Arnn said in an email. “If it wished to be thorough, the Journal would include us and give us an average score on the earnings part, or enter ‘not available.’”  

Hillsdale College Provost Christopher VanOrman said that national college rankings never reflect the entirety of the school.

“Being ranked highly in these reviews is always hum­bling and cer­tainly helps to recruit excellent faculty and stu­dents, but it is important to realize that these rankings do not fully describe the excel­lence of the college,” VanOrman said in an email. 

When asked about the metrics for rating col­leges, Arnn said that these metrics never tell the whole story.

“In this fully-managed society, the federal gov­ernment funds a sig­nif­icant part of higher edu­cation nearly every­where,” Arnn said in an email. “Then it tracks people through life by the Internal Revenue Service. Now it is putting those numbers together to measure how col­leges prepare grad­uates for ‘success.’ Success is mea­sured in earnings. But no one seri­ously thinks that earnings is the whole story or even the main story.”