Colorado College’s mission to provide the best liberal arts education compels us to evaluate our performance against similar colleges. Through peer comparison, we can push ourselves to grow and improve. Embedded in this task, however, lies a deceptively tricky question. What exactly does it mean to be “like us”? Location? Budget? Prestige? Colleges are often grouped by outside consortia, but for many years, Colorado College has also had a set of institutions, referred to as “Peers”, which we have used for comparative purposes. In 2014, the College reviewed and revised the existing list, based on a reconsideration of what it means to be “like us” using the most current data available. In 2017 the analysis was revisited to see if the list of peer institutions was still relevant.
Potential peer colleges were all private, non-profit, degree-granting, Title IV participating, four-year liberal arts, baccalaureate colleges, as reported through IPEDS. To pinpoint our peers within this list, the Office of Institutional Planning and Effectiveness identified characteristics particularly important in shaping student, staff, and faculty experiences at a college. These metrics—28 in total—range from finances to student population, college reputation, and academics/faculty data. Some metrics were weighted more heavily than others depending on the perceived importance of the metric in the analysis.
The research yielded the following list of institutions which the college refers to for comparison on key metrics: