Business Insider Ranks Walla Walla Among Smartest U.S. Colleges

Of the Seventh-day Adventist colleges and universities in North America, only Walla Walla University in Southeastern Washington State made Business Insider's list of 600 Smartest Colleges in America. Walla Walla tied with nine other colleges for 600th place.

The rankings, based on SAT score averages of 1,339 U.S. colleges provided to U.S. News, offer a snapshot of aggregate student performance on standardized tests, but exlude other significant factors that determine human intelligence. Standardized test scores, according to the Business Insider report, provide good measures of general cognitive ability. However, a study of twins, led by cognitive and behavioral scientists from Kings College, London, published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, demonstrated that broad domains of behavior--personality and psychopathology chief among them--contribute to test score outcomes, along with genetics, in ways that intelligence alone may not predict.

Lead researcher J. Wai anticipated objections to the report's somewhat limited scope:

This ranking of brainpower is the most comprehensive to date, but it still does not include every college or university in the U.S., only those 1,339 schools that reported such data to U.S. News & World Report. Therefore, if a school is not in this ranking but the average SAT or ACT scores are reported elsewhere, this school could easily find their rank in relation to the schools already included.

It is also important to note that the research only included national universities and national liberal arts colleges.

In addition, sample size impacted the findings:

The current ranking also does not account for sample size, which likely impacts the average brainpower of the student body. For example, large state schools, such as UC Berkeley, likely have a group of students in the right tail of the distribution with similar SAT or ACT scores as so me of the top Ivy League and other elite schools (e.g., see discussion in Pinker, 2014), however, their average is lowered by the large number of students with lower scores which are typically admitted.

Caveats aside, Walla Walla's ranking puts the school in fine company. The list is populated by many much larger insitutions, many of them with significant state funding. The top of the list includes likely suspects: Cal Tech, University of Chicago, Princeton, Harvard and Yale, in that order. Many faith-based institutions made the list as well. The University of Notre Dame tops the list of religious institutions, tied at number 11 overall on the list.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

509: Andrews University

An Ted wants to to purge the faculties down to his level. Tom Z

“Walla Walla’s ranking puts the school in fine company.” Such as with Andrews University, which also made the list at 509? The article states: “Of the Seventh-day Adventist colleges and universities in North America, only Walla Walla University in Southeastern Washington State made Business Insider’s list of 600 Smartest Colleges in America.” Correction requested, please!

Thank you, observant readers, for your correction. You’ll note the story’s update, and the new article on Andrews University’s ranking in the Business Insider report.

Oops! Andrews Smarter than Walla Walla According to Business Insider Rankings

Other School Rankings
Andrews University 509, Walla Walla University 600, Union College 622
Pacific Union College 816, Southwestern University 1132, Oakwood 1171,
LaSierra University 1190, Washington Adv. U 1305

Being No. 2 should indicate that Walla Walla University is a great place
to find a life long, life-time friend.

That’s certainly one way to interpret the data.

Top 100 would be something to brag about but top 600, though commendable, is not newsworthy.

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I am not sure this kind of ranking is indicative of quality of education at all…
It is a bit like measuring survival rates in a hospitals. Hospitals with the highest survival rates are not necessarily the best, but simply don’t accept very sick patients…

Education is about learning and growing - thus if anything the ranking ought to be based on increase of SAT scores over the course of studies.

Oh, and in case you see my motivation based on envy … my alma mater ranks in the 200s … But used to rank among the top 10 of the East Coast… So what does that mean?