Colorado College Withdraws from U.S. News & World Report Rankings

Watch a video message from President L. Song Richardson about this historic decision. CC is taking a stand against the rankings, which are antithetical to our values and our aspirational goals. Read the Wall Street Journal article.

A Message from the President

Dear CC Community:

I joined this remarkable community at Colorado College 19 months ago because we have a long history of thinking differently and accomplishing what other schools cannot. We provide the finest liberal arts education anywhere in order to ignite our students’ passions and potential so they can help to create a more just world.

At CC, we aren’t afraid to take courageous actions to support our vision and mission. We were the first higher educational institution to implement the Block Plan (1970), the first to implement an Antiracism Commitment (2018), and the first institution in the Rocky Mountain region (and the eighth in North America) to achieve carbon neutrality (2020). None of this was easy, but we don’t settle for easy at CC. 

Today, I’m proud to announce that we will once again be at the forefront of taking bold and courageous action in service of our mission, vision, and values. After extensive deliberations and surveys of our students, staff, faculty, alumni, and parents, the sentiment of our community is clear. Colorado College will no longer cooperate in the deeply flawed U.S. News & World Report “Best Colleges” ranking.  

We are pulling out of this ranking because it privileges criteria that are antithetical to our values and our aspirational goals. Here are a few examples.

  • U.S. News’ flawed methodology still equates academic quality with institutional wealth and continues to rely heavily on the infamous questionnaire asking institutions to rank each other’s reputation, a non-objective process subject to gaming.
  • It continues to equate academic rigor with high school rank and standardized test scores, a metric that creates perverse incentives for schools to provide “merit” aid at the expense of need-based aid. This metric is also inconsistent with our belief that the educational experiences we provide transform our students regardless of these class rank and test scores, which is why we went test-optional in 2019.
  • Further, U.S. News & World Report’s methodology, weighing the proportion of students with debt and the total amount of debt at graduation, creates incentives for schools to admit wealthy students who can attend without incurring debt. We cannot reconcile our values and our aspirations with these metrics or the behaviors they motivate. 

We are making this move despite having benefited from these rankings. We are a prestigious, highly selective, private liberal arts college. Over the past decade, we have been ranked consistently between 25 and 29. Additionally, our peers consistently rank us as the second or third most innovative school. We expect that we will drop in the rankings based on our decision to leave the U.S. News & World Report rankings. If this occurs, it will not be because our educational quality has changed, but because U.S. News & World Report will continue to rank us using incomplete data.

At CC, we pride ourselves on the immersive educational experiences we provide through the Block Plan; our small class sizes; our commitments to antiracism, sustainability, and wellness; and our willingness to take bold actions and have courageous conversations. We will continue to attract a diverse group of students who will choose us because of the unique educational experiences we offer at Colorado College, irrespective of how a third-party judges that experience. These are students who want to learn in a highly immersive curriculum, who want deep, authentic collaboration in small learning communities, and who want to participate as partners in the learning process with peers and professors alike through our highly innovative Block Plan.

We will no longer perpetuate and be complicit with a system that encourages applicants to evaluate schools based on a biased ranking using opaque criteria that are associated with wealth and privilege. Rather, we want prospective students to choose us based on criteria that the rankings do not measure: analytical reasoning, creative problem-solving, critical thinking, comfort with failure and ambiguity, making meaning of the world and one’s place in it, exploring new ideas, and fostering creativity and innovation.

Colorado College has and will continue to share dashboards on our website with metrics that we consider important, such as graduation and retention rates, diversity, and post-graduate success, so that prospective students and their families can make decisions about whether CC is right for them.

Moving forward, we will focus our efforts on becoming a leader in educational access, opportunity, social mobility, and student transformation.  Taking the courageous step away from U.S. News & World Report is part and parcel of leaning into our values, vision, and mission; acting with integrity; and operating consistently with our aspirations for the future of CC. I hope that other courageous liberal arts colleges will join us. 


L. Song Richardson


Conversations with President Richardson: Discussion of the path forward for CC after the U.S. News & World Report decision.

Report an issue - Last updated: 03/09/2023