Coach Chides OC View of U.S. News

To the Editors:

When I first arrived here at Oberlin College 4 years ago I learned about the U.S. News college ranking system. Being a new football coach, and knowing the poor history or Oberlin football in the 90’s, I was curious to see how these rankings had changed over the 90’s. I had a hunch that in 1989, the last year the Football team had a multi win season (prior to last), Oberlin would also have a higher U.S. News ranking. I found that Oberlin ranked #9 overall. Now isn’t that interesting?
What I find interesting is not the rankings, but reactions to them such as that of Scott Wargo, and many others. US News and World Report fails to recognize the Colleges culture, its diversity.” Correct. This subjective evaluation is not part of the ranking. But, are we trying to justify mediocrity? A statement like Wargo’s is similar to blaming the refs when we lose a football game. We either don’t care, or need to improve.
The only subjective evaluation made on the rankings is “peer assessment score” aka academic reputation. On average, College Presidents believe that Oberlin is in the top 30 of all academic institutions nation-wide. This has not changed since the rankings began. People continue to believe that Oberlin College presents a rigorous academic curriculum
Where Oberlin fails is in customer satisfaction, a.k.a. alumni giving. Oberlin has failed to receive consistent significant financial support from its alumni, relative to other higher-ranking institutions. Why does this happen? One possibility is that Oberlin students aren’t particularly concerned with making money after college, and therefore don’t have any to give. Perhaps, Oberlin admits students who do not have the personality traits to drive them to make a lot of money after graduation. Perhaps Oberlin College graduates make a ton of money but don’t feel that their Oberlin education contributed to their success.
Does Oberlin College care? As we search for ways to reduce spending by cutting programs that we enjoy, I think it would be valuable to find out what needs be done to increase alumni giving. We would benefit by having our programs, and by climbing back up the rankings of the National Liberal Arts College.

–Rob Oldham
Assistant Football Coach
Men’s Lacrosse Coach

September 27
October 4

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