Students and faculty are not concerned about Mills’ ranking as a second tier liberal arts college from the magazine US News and World Report.
Most students would agree that Mills has a lot to offer women of all ages in terms of environment, education and experience. Students admit that the ranking disappoints them, but they did not choose Mills because of published rankings, but rather because Mills offered what they wanted.
Women choose Mills because they believed “education is what you make of it,” explains junior transfer Michael Reese. The women who attend Mills are looking for a small, intimate campus in an urban setting. They are looking for a women’s college and they are looking to get a good education regardless of rankings.
Sophomore Christina Atkielski “decided a private school would be better than a 40,000 person public school.” Senior Doreen Anderson, explains “here I can’t be invisible, and have to be held accountable for my work.”
Although rankings play a role in every student’s college decision, in the case of Mills it is not a sole factor. However, many women do come here based on reputation, but not purely academic reputation as measured in the rankings. Anderson “knew people who graduated from here and who had a positive experience.”
According to the “How We Rank Colleges” writers Robert J. Morse and Samuel Flanigan, the seven criteria for ranking colleges include: “academic reputation, retention of students, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, alumni giving, and ‘graduation rate performance’.”
Sally Randall, Mills Vice President for Institutional Advancement explained that there is a lot of controversy over the rankings especially this year and what they included. “Some aspects of the way they compute rankings disadvantages women’s colleges, western colleges, and urban colleges,” said Randall.
Mills may have suffered because of the attention paid to high school test scores and the acceptance rate. “A lot of transfers and resumers which lower our high school scored but creates a better environment” choose Mills, said sophomore Sara Patt. “And as far as acceptance rate, the applicant pool is very different than that or Cal or Stanford which keeps our acceptance rate high.”
Morse and Flanigan offer a list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to using the rankings, and they advise that students not “rely solely on rankings to choose a college” but rather to “use the rankings as one tool to select and compare schools.” This is good advice that gets lost when looking at a list of schools and thinking about “who are the people who look at the rankings; how it will affect my getting into grad school” asks Anderson.
Randall admits that “our ranking does get noticed, but students and their families are smarter than to take them as gospels.” Still, many women agree that Mills has a good reputation of its own, and as Reese said, regardless of rankings, “I think I’m going to like it here.”
The ratings are posted on the US News and World Reports website: [www.usnews.com]