US News Best Colleges logoU.S. News and World Report gives Whitman College an overall ranking of 41 among the nation’s liberal arts colleges, up two spots from last year. Whitman tied with four other colleges, including Occidental College.

Compared to students at other liberal arts colleges, Whitties graduate with the 12th smallest debt load. Less than half of students (48 percent) who graduate from Whitman leave with debt, and those who graduate with debt owe an average of $16,797. Nationally, 66 percent of students graduate with debt, and the average student's debt totals $26,600.

Among liberal arts colleges, Whitman also ranked:

  • No. 28 in graduation and retention rates, tying with Grinnell College, Kenyon College, Colorado College;
  • No. 31 in selectivity; and
  • No. 32 in alumni giving.

The magazine highlighted the unique opportunities for student activities that Whitman offers. Seventy percent of Whitman students participate in intramural sports; there are more than 100 student clubs and organizations; and the indoor, state-of-the-art, 7,000-square-foot climbing wall is one of the best in the nation. Academically, Whitman distinguished itself by offering Encounters, which gives first-years a well-rounded introduction into a liberal arts education, and by requiring seniors to complete an oral examination before graduation.

There were significant changes this year to the Best Colleges ranking methodology. The weight of students’ high school class standings was reduced, the weight of SAT and ACT scores were increased, and the weight of graduation and retention rates was increased.

The incoming members of the Class of 2017 averaged 1340 on their SAT scores and 30 on their ACT scores. The six-year graduation rate for Whitman students is 87 percent, well above the national average of 58 percent for four-year institutions. According to U.S. News and World Report, Whitman’s average freshman retention rate is 96 percent, which the magazine cites as “an indicator of student satisfaction.”

See the full list of liberal arts college rankings here: