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College Guides & Rankings

Earlham is proud to be among the 40 colleges chosen by Loren Pope for inclusion in his book Colleges That Change Lives, first published in 1996.

Colleges -that -change -lives -cover -13-14Pope, now deceased, was a former journalist and education editor at The New York Times; he devoted over 30 years to counseling parents and students about making college choices.

In his widely acclaimed college guide, Pope focused on liberal arts colleges that "not only equip youths to live full lives but they work their magic on a variety of aptitudes, academic and others as important…. Every one of these catalytic places will push and stretch you beyond what you think possible, but they won't let you fall."

Pope emphasizes the learning that takes place in these colleges: "Learning is collaborative rather than competitive; values are central; there is a strong sense of community. They are places of great synergy…."

Beyond the Book

Colleges That Change Lives, Inc., (CTCL) is a non-profit organization that promotes a student-centered college search process. In 1998 the CTCL colleges began working together to extend Pope's approach to helping students find the right college fit. They developed a website and began a nationwide series of college fairs and individual information sessions that continues today.

Watch CTCL's calendar to find out when representatives will be in your area.

Ctcl -375

Forbes LogoEarlham is ranked No. 23 is Forbes' "Best Colleges of the Midwest," and is the only Indiana liberal arts college listed. Earlham is routinely included in Forbes’ annual ranking of “America’s Best Colleges.” Of the approximately 4,000 colleges in the United States, Forbes ranks just 660 colleges. Earlham is ranked 132th among all private and public colleges and universities.

According to Forbes, these rankings measure return on investment. Consequently, schools with impressive “outputs” rank well. “Our sights are set directly on ROI: What are students getting out of college?”

Colleges are scored on measures of post-graduate success, student satisfaction, graduation rates, student debt levels and national recognition. The rankings are calculated for Forbes by the Center for College Affordability & Productivity and are highlighted in the August issue of Forbes magazine and online at

In recent years, Earlham College has redoubled its focus surrounding return on investment, in fact. A key emphasis of the college’s new strategic plan is strengthening the connection of a liberal arts education and career preparation. A newly created Earlham Center for Integrated Learning will provide students expanded opportunities for experiential, community-based learning including service, internships, community-based research, project-based learning, off-campus study and social entrepreneurship.

U.S. News and World Report ranks Earlham College among top national liberal arts colleges in a variety of categories. U.S. News ranks 178 national liberal arts colleges.

Deibel -Chemistry _0_0Of particular interest:

  • 6th in largest percentage of international students
  • 10th for commitment to undergraduate teaching
  • 55th as ranked by high school counselors
  • 73rd among national liberal arts colleges 

"While acknowledging the inherent challenge in ranking college characteristics we are delighted that Earlham's emphasis on innovative, high quality teaching has been consistently recognized," says Jonathan Stroud, vice president for enrollment and communications. "Talented, motivated students are drawn to the opportunity to learn with this caliber of faculty."

Remarkable Faculty

"Earlham is a remarkable place, with a remarkable faculty," said Academic Dean Greg Mahler in his address to the incoming first-year class last month. "The faculty here are the real Earlham College, and their commitment to teaching, to teaching all of you, is what is special about Earlham. They have chosen to come to Earlham, rather than go to other small colleges or larger universities, for a reason. You are that reason."

Read Academic Dean Greg Mahler's complete remarks

International Diversity

"Our international diversity is an integral part of our identity," continues Stroud. "Students who come to Earlham will be influenced by this intentional active engagement with the diversity of contemporary society.  The College has a commitment to creating a diverse faculty, staff and student body and to provide a context for learning about and experiencing diversity in our pluralistic world."

In addition to creating a home for international students on campus, Earlham was also singled out in a list of top schools for study abroad opportunities. Last year, Earlham ranked fifth. In this year's pre-publication rankings, this category was unranked.

Kiplinger LogoEarlham College has once again been recognized as one of the country’s best values for a private liberal arts education. In its annual rankings published in December 2016, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance ranks Earlham 80th among the liberal arts colleges nationwide that provide high-quality academics at a reasonable cost. EC ranks 190th among all colleges and universities.

According to Kiplinger’s, Earlham exemplifies the attributes parents and students look for in higher education, including small class sizes, a good freshman retention rate and a high four-year graduation rate.

Kiplinger’s criteria include the student admission rate (the number of students accepted out of those who apply), the test scores of incoming freshmen, the ratio of students to faculty members, and the four- and five-year graduation rates. On the cost side, Kiplinger’s measures the sticker price, the availability and average amount of need-based and merit-based financial aid, and the average student debt at graduation.

“Our rankings serve as a valuable resource to help students and families make more informed choices,” says Janet Bodnar, editor of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. “Combining a high-quality education with an affordable price tag is a challenge, but the colleges on this year’s list offer the best of both worlds.”

Fiske -2018Information for this selective guide of 300 institutions comes from questionnaires sent to administrators and a cross-section of students. Earlham is one of just 38 colleges and universities recognized as a "Best Buy" in Fiske's 2018 guide.

Quote from the Book

"Although Earlham students are based in the Midwest, they graduate ready to take on the world, thanks to the school's cooperative, can-do spirit, international perspective, and caring student/faculty community."

Visit the website for the Fiske Guide to Colleges.

Working in college admissions for forty years, Peter Arango has counseled hundreds of students and families over his career. Earlham is honored to be among Peter's list of institutions considered to be hidden gems for their academic rigor and teaching excellence.

Quotes from the Book

  • College -secrets -2011"Generally seen by its collegiate neighbors as somewhat "quirky," Earlham students might better be characterized as "authentic." … In fact, one of the first observations that many visitors make about Earlham is that the campus is spiffy, students look great, and the tone of the college is almost uniformly cheerfully productive."
  • "As is true with all of Earlham's programs, however, the primary focus is student engagement. … Earlham may be the college most attractive to students from outside the region, one of the few Quaker Colleges, and perhaps one of the most 'Quakerly.' Although Earlham has a graduate program for teachers (M.A.T.), it is primarily an eminently well-respected liberal arts college, most notable for its historic mission."
  • "A major difference between Earlham and the other colleges to which it might be compared is in the closeness of faculty to students. Every college touts the accessibility of its faculty to undergraduates; at Earlham, those relationships are best described as respectful friendships; the faculty, as authentic as Earlham's students, has joined in a partnership with these active and socially committed learners on this handsome campus. One hallmark of the relationships established at Earlham is that all in the community are called by first name; there are no honorifics - Doctor, Professor, etc. It will come as no surprise that Earlham is also one of the Colleges That Change Lives."
  • "So, call it 'quirky' or call it 'authentic'; the Earlham experience is distinctive, challenging, and highly worthwhile."
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