Wilkes University is ranked highest among northeast Pennsylvania’s colleges and universities on Money magazine’s Best Colleges list of schools delivering great value for students. The Money ranking is based on factors such as graduation rates, affordability and average earnings after graduation.
Wilkes ranked 352 among the 665 schools ranked nationally by Money, tying with Penn State – Harrisburg. The University was one of 66 schools in the state ranked by the survey and was ranked ahead of other northeast Pennsylvania schools in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties.
It is the second time in a year that Wilkes has been cited for its value for students. Wilkes was named one of the top 20 Pennsylvania colleges with the greatest lifetime return on investment in August 2013 by the web site AffordableCollegesOnline.org. In that ranking, Wilkes was 16th on the list of 81 colleges and universities in the state that offer a good return on a student’s investment in higher education. Only 81 of more than 400 schools in Pennsylvania made the Affordable Colleges Online list.
According to Money’s Web site, the magazine set out to deliver a ranking that helped to identify schools that gave students “the most bang for the buck.”
Wilkes University President Patrick Leahy said that the Money ranking affirms that Wilkes offers students value in its educational experience. “When we speak to prospective students and their families, we stress that value received is something that sets Wilkes apart,” Leahy said. “We believe that Wilkes is unique in what we offer. We have the activities of a major research university – 39 academic majors, 70 extra curricular clubs and organizations, 20 NCAA sports, opportunities for undergraduate research -- in the culture of a small liberal arts college. I’m pleased that the Money ranking affirms the value of what we offer.”
Money ranked 665 of the United States’ approximately 1,500 four-year colleges and universities. According to the magazine’s Web site, to be part of the core group that make up the ranking, a college had to have an above-average six-year graduation rate in its institutional category (public or private college or university). If the rate was below the median, the school had to have a graduation rate at least 25 percent above what would be expected given the incomes and test scores of its students. Schools with a speculative bond rating from Moody’s, indicating financial difficulties, or those for which there wasn’t sufficient data available, were excluded from the ranking. That left 665 schools that were ranked.
The rankings were based on 18 factors in three categories. The first category, quality of education, included factors such as six-year graduation rates; peer quality – determined by the standardized test scores of entering freshmen; instructor quality; students’ perception of quality; and something that Money calls the value-added graduation rate, or the difference between a school’s actual graduation rate and its expected rate, based on the economic and academic profile of the student body (measured by the percentage of attendees receiving Pell grants given to low-income students and the average standardized test scores of incoming freshmen).
The second category, affordability, included factors such as net price of a degree, student and parental debt, and student loan default risk. The final category, outcomes, includes factors such as early- and mid-career earning and earnings adjusted by majors and career services.