CINCINNATI -- Xavier University was near the top of its class, dubbed the fourth best Midwest regional university, in the U.S. News & World Report college rankings released Tuesday.
The highly anticipated rankings tend to reflect favorably on universities that cater to traditional, four-year students who begin college straight out of high school, and this year’s results were no exception. Schools are judged in part on their six-year graduation rate, which works in the favor of schools with traditional, full-time students and against schools with part-time adult learners.
University of Cincinnati, which has a mix of traditional and non-traditional students, edged up four spots to 135 in its category of national universities. UC had one eye-popping ranking to brag about as it was ranked by peer universities as No. 3 most “Up and Coming” university in the country. The ranking is based on what peer university leaders consider the “most promising and innovative changes in the areas of academics, faculty and student life.”
Miami jumped in its overall rank to 75th from 89th among national universities. It was ranked the third best at undergraduate teaching, a ranking based on what school received the most votes from top college administrators for paying a particular focus on undergraduate teaching.
Other Tri-State rankings:
• Northern Kentucky University ranked 77th among south region universities and 35th among top public schools.
• Thomas More ranked 41st among south region universities.
• College of Mount St. Joseph ranked 60th among Midwest regional universities.
Colleges that receive high ranks almost always tout them in brochures and advertising, but not everyone is a fan of the system. The most prominent critic is President Obama, who on Aug. 22 rolled out a plan to develop a federal rating system for colleges by 2015.
Speaking that day at the State University of New York in Buffalo, Obama said, “Right now, private rankings like U.S. News and World Report put out each year their rankings, and it encourages a lot of colleges to focus on ways to — how do we game the numbers, and it actually rewards them, in some cases, for raising costs. I think we should rate colleges based on opportunity. Are they helping students from all kinds of backgrounds succeed and on outcomes, on their value to students and parents.”
Obama said better metrics would include data on how much the average student at a given college has at graduation; how many students graduate on time; and how well graduates fare in the work force.
Various boycotts have been organized, including a 2007 effort by the Annapolis Group – a group of liberal arts colleges – and another by Alma College in the late 1990s when its president wrote to 480 liberal arts colleges and universities urging them not to participate in US News’s peer review exercise, on the grounds that colleges weren’t always adequately informed to judge each other.
US News has continuously refined its formula since the survey began in 1980s. Despite boycotts and the proliferation of rival rankings, the annual ranking remains the most popular in the country.
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