Lawrence ranks strongly among national colleges

Chris Chan

Lawrence students are aware that Lawrence is a challenging school. However, Lawrence’s academic strength is not as well known across the nation as that of big-name Ivy League schools. Fortunately, this trend may be changing. Publications such as U.S. News and World Report, The Fiske Guide to Colleges, The Princeton Review, and Peterson’s 4 Year Colleges have all ranked Lawrence as one of America’s top colleges in 2002. (All information was taken from the Lawrence website. For more information on Lawrence’s college rank, go to

U.S. News and World Report placed Lawrence in 48th place for the best liberal arts colleges in America, out of 218 schools. This is the third year in a row that Lawrence has been listed. The Lawrence website states that these rankings are “based on a variety of weighted criteria, including student selectivity, financial resources, graduation rates, faculty resources and alumni satisfaction, among others.”

Lawrence’s greatest strengths, according to the publications listed above, are small class sizes, good professor/student relations, the mandatory Freshman Studies program, helpful financial aid, and the Lawrence Conservatory of Music.

If Lawrence is such a strong institution, why isn’t it better known nationwide? The Fiske Guide to Colleges calls Lawrence “a well-kept secret.” Writer Loren Pope claims that part of the reason for the school’s obscurity is American regional snobbery and academic elitism.

Pope explains, “If an omniscient being were to describe the qualitative difference between Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, and one of the Ivies in New England, she or he would say that Lawrence is a growth hormone that raises kids’ trajectories and instills the power to soar. The Ivies take in fast-track kids and turn out fast-track graduates not much changed…If people weren’t provincial and if they were concerned only with quality, Lawrence would be considered as selective as any school. But until things change, there is no greater educational bargain in the country.”

Perhaps if Lawrence students, professors, and alumni continue producing exemplary work and citing Lawrence as a major formative influence, someday Harvard may be referred to as “the Lawrence of the East Coast.”

What they say…

* U.S. News & World Report’s America’s Best Colleges, 2002 Edition: In their 15th annual America’s Best Colleges report, Lawrence was ranked 48th in the “Best Liberal Arts Colleges – Bachelor’s” category. Lawrence also was cited among the nation’s “best values” by U.S. News, earning a 31st-place ranking.

* The Princeton Review’s The Best 331 Colleges, 2002 Edition: “‘Demanding’ Lawrence University is a little liberal arts college with a slew of excellent music programs as well as a ‘strong’ biology department and several other top-notch majors.”

* The Fiske Guide to Colleges 2002: “With its outstanding liberal arts courses, knowledgeable and caring faculty, and an administration that treats students like adults, all tucked into a charming country setting, Lawrence University is a well-kept secret.”

* Peterson’s 4 Year Colleges, 32nd Edition, 2002: “Bright, motivated students are attracted to Lawrence by the exceptional level of student-faculty interaction both inside and outside the classroom.”

* The Yale Daily News’ The Insider’s Guide to the Colleges, 2002: ”Students see the conservatory as a ‘very central and defining part of the university,’ and even non-musicians feel its presence.”

* Loren Pope’s Colleges That Change Lives: “Lawrence is a place that helps young people find themselves and then make the best of what they find.