In its 2020 list of Best Colleges, U.S. News includes Wesleyan among the Best National Liberal Arts Colleges with special recognition in the categories of Social Mobility Index and Ethnic Diversity. The rankings compare bachelor's degree-granting institutions from across the U.S. on 15 diverse measures of academic quality. Liberal arts colleges, as defined in the U.S. News listing, focus almost exclusively on undergraduate education and award at least half of their degrees in the arts and sciences.
The rankings formula uses exclusively statistical quantitative and qualitative measures that education experts have proposed as reliable indicators of academic quality including excellence as first-year student retention, graduation rates, and the strength of the faculty. In total, U.S. News has collected data on more than 1,900 institutions. While data for all schools appears on usnews.com, just shy of 1,400 schools were ranked. Wesleyan, ranked 143, is one of only three Georgia institutions on the liberal arts colleges list, and ranked 89 among high school counselors.
U.S. News outlines the indicators and their weights in the ranking formula and provides an explanation of each below.
Outcomes receives the highest weight in our rankings because degree completion is necessary to receive the full benefits of undergraduate study from employers and graduate schools. We approach outcomes from angles of graduation and retention (22%), graduation rate performance (8%), and social mobility (5%).
Faculty Resources (20%)
Research shows the greater access students have to quality instructors, the more engaged they will be in class and the more they will learn and likely graduate. U.S. News uses five factors from the 2018-2019 academic year to assess a school’s commitment to instruction: class size, faculty salary, faculty with the highest degree in their fields, student-faculty ratio, and proportion of faculty who are full time.
Expert Opinion (20%)
U.S. News takes a two-year weighted average of ratings from top academics – presidents, provosts, and deans of admissions – who rate the academic quality of peer institutions with which they are familiar on a scale of 1 (marginal) to 5 (distinguished).
Financial Resources (10%)
Generous per-student spending indicates that a college can offer a wide variety of programs and services. U.S. News measured financial resources by comparing fiscal year 2018 spending with 2017 enrollment and fiscal year 2017 spending with 2016 enrollment.
Student Excellence (10%)
A school’s academic atmosphere is influenced by the selectivity of its admissions. Students who achieved strong grades and test scores during high school have the highest probability of succeeding at challenging college-level coursework, enabling instructors to design classes that have great rigor.
Alumni Giving (5%) - the average percentage of living alumni with bachelor's degrees who gave to their school during 2016-2017 and 2017-2018.
U.S. News reports Wesleyan’s average freshman retention rate, an indicator of student satisfaction, is 74 percent. Special academic programs include First-Year Experience, service learning, senior capstone or culminating academic experience, writing in the disciplines, and undergraduate research. The most popular majors at Wesleyan College include: bachelor of science in nursing (21%), business administration (19%), biology (11%), psychology (11%), and accounting (8%).