'Social Mobility,' Community Service Bolster St. Thomas' Score in Washington Monthly’s Rankings

There’s more than one way to rank a university.

For the past six years, Washington Monthly magazine has published rankings that take a different approach than those developed by U.S. News and World Report and similar guides.

Washington Monthly says its rankings “ask not what colleges can do for you, but what colleges are doing for the country. Are they educating low-income students, or just catering to the affluent?”

The magazine bases a third of each college’s score on “social mobility” and how committed they are to enrolling low-income students and helping them earn degrees. Another third looks at research production and success at sending undergraduates on to Ph.D.s. Finally, the magazine says, “we give great weight to service. It’s not enough to help students look out for themselves. The best colleges encourage students to give something back.”

The magazine divided the nation’s colleges and universities into four categories, depending on size and mission. St. Thomas was 101st of the 259 institutions in the National University category.

Two other Minnesota universities were placed in the National Category: the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, ranked 45th, and St. Mary’s University of Minnesota, ranked 253.

St. Thomas’ overall rank of 101 was helped by its social mobility rank of 66 and especially helped by its service rankings. St. Thomas was ranked 13th out of 259 for community-service participation and 53rd for institutional support for service learning.

A third of the overall score was on research, and that put St. Thomas toe to toe with the nation’s largest research institutions. There, St. Thomas ranked 154th of the 259. The University of Minnesota, with a research budget listed at $683 million, ranked 50th.

Washington Monthly’s College Guide can be found online here.