December 21, 2014

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Oberlin listed 6th among best Midwest colleges by Forbes

OBERLIN — Being named one of the best colleges in the Midwest is an achievement by any college’s standards, but for Oberlin, the focus is less on national rankings and more on student accomplishments, college leaders say.

This week, Forbes Magazine named Oberlin College the sixth-best college in the Midwest for 2014, comparing it using factors like the cost of tuition, percent of students admitted and on-campus facilities to other colleges in the area.

Carleton College was ranked first, followed by University of Notre Dame and Northwestern University.

Despite the prestigious ranking, Oberlin College Dean of Admissions Debra Chermonte said Oberlin doesn’t put too much weight into national rankings.

“There are so many ratings out there and they’re looking at a whole variety … at different indicators of success,” Chermonte said, adding that the college places more stock in campus facilities and programs. “(Oberlin) emphasizes the importance of a strong campus visit. …. We encourage students when they come to campus to stay overnight, to get into classrooms, to feel what an Oberlin education would be like and not just read about it.”

Despite generally disregarding college rankings, Chermonte said she has some idea of why Oberlin received such a high score this year.

“The relevance of our position as both a top-rated liberal arts college, a world-renowned conservatory of music … (and having) one of the top art museums of any college in the country … the synergy between all of those things,” Chermonte said.

She added that many students graduate from Oberlin and go on to receive prestigious awards like the MacArthur fellowship and Fulbright scholarships.

Those factors — rather than various ranking systems — are what Chermonte hopes prospective Oberlin students will consider when thinking of Oberlin College.

“I think it goes well beyond what’s in a guidebook,” she said.

Contact Anna Merriman at 329-7245 or amerriman@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter at @AnnaLMerriman.