University drops in national rankings
Last Monday, U.S. News and World Report released the 30th edition of its academic ranking of national colleges and universities. Brandeis was ranked 35th for the 2014 to 2015 academic year, which is three places below its ranking at number 32 last year.
Although many universities consider this ranking highly competitive, the editor of U.S. News and World Report Brian Kelly says that moving only a few places up or down is a common annual occurrence. Since 2000, Brandeis has consistently ranked between number 31 and number 35, fluctuating a few spots up or down each year. According to the U.S. News and World Report, nearly 1,800 national universities and colleges are ranked each year based on over 15 different weighted factors, which include but are not limited to: strength of the faculty, incoming students’ SAT and ACT scores, freshmen retention rate and graduation rates.
The U.S. News and World Report statistics on Brandeis claim it has a 90 percent graduation rate and a 93 percent freshmen retention rate. It scored a total of 66 points out of 100, a number that is calculated based on the different weighted factors.
Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment Andrew Flagel, who serves on the Educational Advisory Board for U.S. News and World Report, wrote in a press release provided to the Justice that he is not concerned about this small shift in rankings, stating that modest annual changes do not matter. While he wrote that the U.S. News and World Report rankings are statistically reliable, he added that Brandeis is “by no means measuring our success by this limited tool.”
Flagel stressed that Brandeis is one of the smallest and youngest universities in these national rankings and was also ranked this week in a New York Times study as being one of the topmost economically diverse universities in the nation, all of which should be “point[s] of pride” for the University. He wrote that Brandeis will continue to promote diversity and continue to enact policies that are important to the students and faculty, thereby naturally contributing to improved rankings in the future.
Brandeis is currently tied with the Georgia Institute of Technology for 35th place and falls just behind the University of Rochester and the College of William and Mary, both tied for number 33. U.S. News and World Report states that many schools changed rankings this year, especially those further down on the list. Some schools, such as Bennington College and College of the Atlantic, rose or fell over 30 spaces, a huge shift from previous years’ reports.
The methodology used for ranking changed last year to place more emphasis on what the U.S. News and World Report calls “output measures,” such as college graduation rates and put less weight on the “input measures,” such as incoming students’ test scores. Those criteria have remained the same for the 2015 rankings. However, while many university presidents have withheld information in the past in protest of the U.S. News and World Report rankings, several schools this year chose to submit quantitative data such as SAT and ACT scores for the first time, possibly accounting for shifts in the rankings of other schools. St. John’s College submitted new data and rose an astounding 67 places in the ranking. It now holds place 56 as opposed to 123.
Many colleges have misreported data in the past to improve their rankings, including, most famously, George Washington University, who admitted to inflating their admissions data for the 2012 rankings and was subsequently unranked by U.S. News and World Report for that year. Brandeis has no history of skewing data to improve its rankings, and no other colleges have been accused of such for the 2014 to 2015 academic year. Princeton University remained in the first spot for national schools, with Harvard University and Yale University coming in at second and third respectively.
U.S. News and World Report also has many other lists of rankings, including liberal arts colleges, regional schools, top public schools and best value schools, as well as extensive data and summaries of each listed university or college. This information and the full national university ranking can be found on its website.