Sarah Lawrence Reassures Its Alumni Their Degrees Are Still Worth Something

The other day, when we joked that Sarah Lawrence would soon be engaging in self-congratulatory back-thumping because US News had deemed them unrankable in its annual list of the country's "best" colleges? Well, it turns out you should be careful what you joke about. Soon after our post went up, an email went out to SLC alumni, reminding them that this is, in fact, what they signed up for. The full email follows.

Dear Sarah Lawrence Alumnae/i,

We thought you would want to know that the new edition of U.S. News & World Report's annual college rankings is out today — and it lists Sarah Lawrence and 17 other liberal arts colleges in a new category called "unranked." This classification, not used previously for liberal arts colleges, includes institutions that do not consider SAT or ACT scores, as in the case of SLC, and schools for which there were insufficient responses to the peer assessment survey as well as other unrelated criteria.

Sarah Lawrence officials met with U.S. News staff last fall to discuss the College's nontraditional requirements for admission, including the decision in 2004 not to consider SAT or ACT scores. They were told that in the absence of data, the methodology used for calculating rankings would likely cause Sarah Lawrence to fall out of the designated "top tier," which includes a majority of our peer or admission-crossover institutions. In its admission process, SLC relies heavily on students' essays and high school record.

"Sarah Lawrence has a legacy of producing exceptional graduates, and based on applications and student performance since our SAT decision, student achievement continues to be excellent," said Karen R. Lawrence, who this month became the College's 10th president. "The same individualized attention that we give to students at SLC is given to applications in a holistic approach that doesn't reduce individuals to scores. It helps us recruit remarkable students and we expect to continue to do so."

In a Washington Post op-ed this spring, President Emerita Michele Myers criticized the rankings for its flawed methodology. She said of U.S. News in a New York Times interview that followed, "They will do what they do and we will do what we do."

Along with sharing even more data on the College Web for prospective students, Sarah Lawrence is working with the Annapolis Group, a consortium of the leading liberal arts colleges, as well as other national organizations to create Web-based tools that will help students and their families better evaluate their higher education options.

Earlier: Sarah Lawrence Proves Itself Almost Worthy Of Most Annoying Liberal Arts College Crown