Carleton has always prided itself on its high-achieving student body and this year, the hard work of its student-athletes received national recognition in the 2011 NSCA Collegiate Power Rankings.
The ranking system, which evaluates all colleges and universities with NCAA Division I, II or III programs, uses a combination of student-athlete graduation rates and U.S. News and World Report academic rankings. This figure is then compared to the strength of the athletic department, a figure provided by the Learfield Sports Director’s Cup.
In 2011, fewer than six percent of all schools earned a spot in the top 100. Carleton placed 11th out of all NCAA Division III schools, and 28th overall in the nation.
Carleton ranked eighth out of all schools for academic strength, and 71st in athletic ability. These figures, combined with Carleton’s student-athlete graduation rate, gave Carleton a power ranking of 48.0, good enough for 28th out of thousands of schools.
While Carleton ranks several spots behind certain peer schools, such as Williams and Amherst, it stands solidly ahead of several others, including Pomona, Bates, Swarthmore and rivals St. Olaf and Macalester. The Knights also fared better than several larger athletic and academic powerhouses, such as UNC-Chapel Hill, the University of Virginia and UCLA.
“These rankings are indicative of how we have a great combination of academics and athletics,” said Carleton Athletic Director Gerald Young. He noted that Carleton students traditionally perform well in multiple areas beyond academics, including athletics, and that the accolade is reflective of the student body that Carleton attracts.
“These are the type of students who are very passionate about everything they do,” he said. “They undoubtedly bring [that] passion and dedication to the classroom and the field.”
Student-athletes also voiced their agreement with the news. Abby Wills ’12, a psychology major and member of the women’s soccer team, said that she chose Carleton specifically for the combination of academic and athletic opportunities that it offered.
“In choosing a college, I wanted a balance between academics and athletics,” she said. “I knew soccer wouldn’t be a long-term thing, but I still wanted to play while getting an education that would help take me where I want to go in life.”
The choice to play Division III was obvious; attending Carleton, she says, “was just the next logical step.”
Other athletes cited sports as a good way to manage the stress of Carleton’s intense academics.
“Although the academics are hard, football offers an escape,” said athlete Brian Frett ’14. “Football practice is important because it gives me time to forget about classes and homework and just play.”
Nick Stuart ’13, a three-year CUT player and economics major, agreed.
“For me, because work is rigorous, sports offer a release, sort of an escape from the academic aspect,” he said. “Frisbee helps me balance working hard, both academically and physically.”
“Put simply, soccer keeps me sane,” said Sarah Hagerty ’13, a three-year member of the women’s soccer team. “I cherish the time I spend with my teammates and the mental break soccer brings.”
Carleton’s strong combination of athletics and academics is certainly one of the school’s assets. Hagerty was quick to note that it was Carleton’s unique intellectual atmosphere that caught her attention. “
I wanted to come to a place where I could have a deep intellectual conversation with a teammate,” she said.