Thursday, August 06, 2009

Forbes/CCAP Best Midwestern Schools

By Richard Vedder

The nation’s heartland is well represented on the Forbes/CCAP list of the Best Colleges of America for 2009-2010, with 21 of the top 100 schools located in the Midwest, roughly consistent with the region’s share of the U.S. population. However, Midwestern schools tend to be less good values than found in some other regions – only 15 of the top 100 Best Value schools are located in the Midwest. Moreover, private schools dominate –all top 25 top ranked schools in the Midwest are private –the only region in the country where that is so. Even 16 of the top 25 schools in terms of value are private, whereas in other regions public schools tend to dominate.

The best institution for higher education in the Midwest, using the Forbes/CCAP criteria emphasizing undergraduate student preferences and outcomes, is Northwestern University. Indeed, Chicago is the clear leading center of academic excellence in the Midwest, with the neighboring University of Chicago ranking number two, and two other top 25 schools (Lake Forest and Wheaton colleges) located in the Chicago suburbs, and two other relatively high ranked universities (Notre Dame and the University of Illinois) within a two hour drive. Interestingly, only four of the top 25 schools in our rankings are universities – beside the Chicago schools, there are Washington University in St. Louis and Notre Dame. Public universities do not crack our top 25, but at the top of our list of those schools are the University of Illinois, University of Michigan, and Indiana University.

The Midwest is littered with many excellent liberal arts colleges. In our calculations, Ohio’s Kenyon College leads the list, followed closely by Minnesota’s Carleton. Aside from these two, Wabash (an all men’s school) and Kalamazoo Colleges are in the top 10 schools (including universities), along with two other liberal arts institutions, DePauw and Lawrence universities. Five Midwestern schools are among a select group ranked both in the top 100 of the nation’s best colleges and in the top 100 best values (measuring, roughly, the quality of education per dollar spent) –Wabash, Hillsdale, Ripon, Principia, and Doane colleges.

However, along with the East, the Midwest is the worst major region in the country for providing schools that are adjudged good values. Indiana is the only Midwestern state to have two schools amongst the nation’s top 50 Best Values – Wabash College and Indiana University at Bloomington (by contrast, California has nine, New York five, and South Carolina four). In a quality-adjusted sense, higher education tends to be relatively more costly in the Midwest.

25 Best Midwestern Colleges*

1. Northwestern University (17)
2. University of Chicago (21)
3. Kenyon College (22)
4. Carleton College (23)
5. Wabash College (32)
6. Lawrence University (41)
7. DePauw University (42)
8. Washington U., St. Louis (45)
9. U. of Notre Dame (50)
10. Kalamazoo College (52)
11. Principia College (57)
12. Doane College (66)
13. College of Wooster (74)
14. Hillsdale College (76)
15. Macalester College (82)
16. Lake Forest College (86)
17. Nebraska Wesleyan C. (87)
18. Oberlin College (88)
19. Earlham College (91)
20. Huntington College (97)
21. Ripon College (101)
22. Wheaton College (103)
23. Grinnell College (106)
24. Knox College (111)
25. Marietta College (112)

25 Best Value Midwestern Colleges*

1. Wabash College (32)
2. University of Michigan- Ann Arbor (34)
3. Indiana University – Bloomington (49)
4. Clarke College (63)
5. Hillsdale College (71)
6. Hastings College (75)
7. Westminster College (76)
8. U. of Minnesota at Morris (78)
9. Ripon College (88)
10. U. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (90)
11. Principia College (91)
12. Coe College (94)
13. Doane College (95)
14. Albion College (96)
15. Truman State University (97)
16. Ohio State University –Columbus (110)
17. Kalamazoo College (119)
18. Wisconsin Lutheran College (124)
19. Cornell College (128)
20. Alma College (134)
21. Goshen College (138)
22. U. of Wisconsin, Madison (140)
23. Central College (141)
24. Michigan State University (144)
25. U. of Missouri, Columbia (155)

* Numbers in parentheses are from the national rankings.


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