Colleges and universities do not operate in a vacuum and they do not have a lock on “best practices”. As a result it is important to have other schools to use for “benchmark” comparisons. At the same time schools and their students change. What might have been good “benchmarks” in the past might not be appropriate in the future. This research demonstrates the viability of Self Organizing Maps (SOMs) as a means to find comparable institutions across many variables. An example of the approach shows which schools in the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges might be the best “benchmarks” for Fort Lewis College.
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