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Penn State Ranks 46th Nationally, 49th Globally

Through a completely accurate and standardized system that relies on the credible opinions of high school guidance counselors, US News & World Report ranked Pennsylvania State University at University Park as the 46th best college in America for 2013.

But wasn’t our dear Alma mater recently ranked as 49th best university in the world a few weeks ago?

According to US News & World Report, ranking is based on a number of things not equal in weight: reputation, retention rate, faculty, acceptance rate, financial resources, graduation rate performance, and alumni donations.

One part of the formula that goes into the reputation score uses a particularly scientific and objective method — 2,213 high school guidance counselors, whose schools were deemed gold, silver, or bronze medalists by US News & World Report, along with 400 college counselors ranked each university’s academic programs on a scale from 1 to 5. This criteria definitely sounds precise enough to be used to help rank a higher education institute — rankings that undoubtedly add to a university’s prestige and value of degree.

Also, despite updating the list every year, universities maintain a mostly consistent score; for example, Penn State was ranked at number 45 in 2012 and 47 in 2011.

Furthermore, to follow through with the World part of their title, US News & World Report also ranked the best colleges in the world, where Penn State was placed at number 94 in 2011. Finally we know our place in the world.  Or do we?

A different report done by the Academic Ranking of World Universities in 2012 gave Penn State a chance to prove itself again. With this organization, Penn State significantly improved by coming in as the 49th best university in the world. Maybe it’s time to have a discussion about how much these rankings really mean.

According to this organization, we were ranked only three worse in the world than our US News & World Report country ranking of 46. The Academic Ranking of World Universities bases its report on the number of alumni who won Nobel Prizes and Field medals, number of highly cited researchers, number of research papers staff members published in Nature and Science, and number of academic staff.

However, neither organization accounts for the intangible happiness that makes Penn State seem closer to being the number one university in the world, like THON, the Creamery, and the Boombox Guy.

Ranking universities is a subjective process that often finds two organizations giving the same school completely different ratings. Many prospective college students choose which colleges they are applying to and eventually attending based on these statistics that are inconsistent between different ranking outlets and are only useful for universities and students to show off how great their school is.

Luckily for us, Penn State doesn’t need a ranking in order to brag about how amazing we are – we already have THON for that.

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