I have not, and will probably never be, a fan of Forbes college rankings. I could have made their list with less time and money by matching up selectivity and endowment per student to come up with a set of “best colleges.”
The exception that I might have had to consider would have been the schools that I would consider to be Forbes best in their college rankings: the United States Military Academy, aka “West Point,” and the United States Naval Academy, aka “Annapolis.”
These two military service academies are exceptionally selective; less than 10 percent of the men and women who apply are accepted. The admissions processes are more rigorous than they are at more traditional colleges. Prospective students must not only secure a Congressional nomination; they must also hope that they have the opportunity to attend summer leadership programs sponsored by the academies during the summer before their senior year. They need to be more physically fit as a class than students at practically any other college in the country. And, of course they need very strong academic and leadership credentials as they would need to be considered for admission to any other exceptionally selective college.
What other reasons, besides selectivity, would qualify West Point or Annapolis to be America’s best colleges in these, or any other, college rankings?
Both academies have to be considered in college rankings versus National Liberal Arts Colleges. US News already ranks them that way. While each has approximately 4,500 undergraduates, more than any other national liberal arts college in the US, neither academy grants advanced degrees. The Army War College, which offers advanced academic programs to Army officers, is based in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The Naval Postgraduate School is based in Monterrey, California. The mil
When considering either academy against a “top” or “elite” liberal arts school such as Williams (#2 in Forbes rankings) or Amherst or a Patriot League sports rival such as Bucknell, Colgate or Lafayette, I find out that:
The culture of West Point or Annapolis, as well as military service, will not be for every college-bound high school student. However, the academies attain the distinction of being exceptionally selective without being regarded as elite, when elite is tied to family income. They also demand more of their students than traditional colleges do. And they deliver more for those who fit the culture.
Sharing is caring!