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US News to Change Ranking Criteria

U.S. News & World Report is one the foremost authorities on college rankings, which most of you probably have an old, thumbed-through edition from your senior year. But, the go-to-guide is adding some changes for this upcoming year’s placements.

The most drastic change is the addition of the “undergraduate academic reputation index,” which would measure the value of the school’s academic repute. This index would be a combination of high school counselor’s rankings and peer assessment surveys. Yield, the percentage of students that the school accepts that enroll at that school in the fall, would be added to the mix on the grounds that it is a good indicator of how much students value their acceptance at a particular school.

U.S. News may also increase the weight of “predicted graduation rate” because it measures outcome and rewards schools for graduating at-risk students, a factor that higher-education researchers value. The magazine is also considering eliminating the Third Tier from all the National Universities, Liberal Arts Colleges, Master’s Universities, and Baccalaureate Colleges rankings tables. They would extend the numerically ranking to the top 75 percent of all schools in each category, up from the top 50 percent now. While the bottom 25 percent of each category would be listed the group may be renamed to 4th quartile.

These changes, however, come with some criticism. For instance not everyone can go to their first choice school due to circumstances like financial aid and athletic and merit scholarships, thus this affects the yield category, as does the early decision option. These circumstances, so far, have not been accounted for in the ranking calculations.

While of U.S. News’s methodology remains up in the up in the air and will continue to be modified, one thing is certain: no matter the methodology the influential magazine uses to rank colleges, those rankings will continue to carry weight with prospective students.


About the Author

Caitlin Silver

Caitlin is from a small Pennsylvania town called Unionville, which is by West Chester, which is by Philadelphia. She is a sophomore in the Smeal College of Business and will probably major in accounting. Caitlin loves "How I Met Your Mother" and dougnuts.


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