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Grateful Grads Index: Small Schools Rule

Even as Phil seeks to increase the number of undergraduates by 10-25%, additional information confirms that the experience of students at smaller schools binds them more closely to their almae matres. Forbes Magazine’s Grateful Grads Index (GGI) puts the College on top, ahead of even Princeton and a host of other friendly, small schools. Here’s how the index is calculated:

This metric ranks private not-for-profit colleges with more than 1,000 students by analyzing two important variables: median private donations and gifts per student over 10 years, as reported to the Department of Education; and the Alumni Participation Rate, or the percentage of graduates that give back in the form of donations to their colleges each year— regardless of the dollar amount. This measure, from the Council for Aid To Education, is averaged over 3 years… The private donation per student figure gets a 75% weighting in our index and the alumni participation percentage gets a 25% weighting.

Forbes 2017 GG index.jpg

The GGI is a measure of the enduring impact institutions of higher learning have had during the lives of their living alumni. It sure looks like the College has had a winning strategy over the past 50-60 years. The next Ivies after Princeton to appear on the list are Yale (#14) and Brown (#16). They are, after Dartmouth and Princeton, the third and fourth smallest Ivies respectively. Funny how that works, isn’t it? The four Ivies with the largest undergraduate enrolment are further down the list: Penn (#20); Harvard (#26), Cornell (#38) and Columbia (#52). What can I say? Small is beautiful.

That said, the data that is the basis of the College’s #1 ranking seems suspect. Look at U.S. News’ information on alumni giving:

U.S. News Alumni Giving.jpg

By these numbers, Princeton would beat us handily. In fact, the U.S. News numbers for Williams, Bowdoin, Davidson and Wellesley, too, are all quite different from the figures used by Forbes.

But there is no need today to belabor discrepancies in the data. The takeaway is that smaller schools give their students a special experience that both educates them and bonds them to their alma mater in ways that large schools cannot match. Alumni can then go out into the world armed with special skills, and they accomplish great things. Phil’s alternative is to dumb down the undergraduate experience (which is what will happen if we grow larger, no matter what he says), and then try to recruit distant researchers to the faculty who will, er, maybe, accomplish great things.

I’m not betting on Phil to get this one right.

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