With the release of 28th edition of the U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges—the oldest rankings with the most consistent and transparent methodology—this year’s college “ranking season” reached a crescendo.
In the 2012, U.S. News & World Report rankings, Hampden-Sydney has much to be proud of. Ranked 94 in Best National Liberal Arts Colleges, this is a 17-place rise from 2011 (a feat unequaled in the Top 100 by any other college but Austin). Hampden-Sydney stands 3rd among ranked private liberal arts colleges in Virginia.
A one-time statistic is interesting, but trends are more important. About a decade ago, Hampden-Sydney began its ascent from the third tier. (U.S. News originally used a four-tier system, numerically ranking only those in the first tier (top 50) and alphabetically listing all others by tiers. Early in that last decade, the numerical rankings were extended to the second tier (50-100). Last year, U.S. News replaced the four-tier system with a two-tier system, essentially consolidating the old 1st, 2nd, and most of the 3rd tiers into the new first, and the remainder of the old 3rd and the old 4th tiers into the new second.) In 2002 rankings, the College moved from the third tier to the second (then unranked numerically), falling back into the third tier in 2003, rising into the second tier (rank 106) in 2004, and falling back into the third tier in 2005. From that point an upward trend was established: 104 in 2006; 104 in 2007; 106 in 2008; 98 in 2009; 97 in 2010; 111 in 2011; and 94 in 2012. The drop in 2011 is unexplainable but illustrates that one year does not establish a trend.
The U.S. News & World Report rankings recognize the College’s steady and sustained improvement. The College’s “Overall Score,” which reflects a combination of factors including peer assessment, has risen from 49 (out of 100) in 2003 to 58 this year. In the same period the acceptance rate has declined from 71% to 54%. The graduation rate has risen from 61% to 68%.
Forbes magazine recently ranked the College 19th in the South, and PayScale.com ranked it 7th in the South for salary potential for graduates.