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U.S. News & World Report: Penn State Ranks 8th Among Public Schools, 37th in Country

Penn State often receives top accolades when ranked on lists, but this is one that everyone in the Penn State community can brag about.

U.S. News & World Report, one of the most respected sources for college rankings, rated Penn State as the 37th best university in the country and 8th among public schools. The #37 national ranking is a nine spot improvement from last year’s #46 ranking. Within the Big Ten, Penn State ranked third among national universities and second among public schools, behind only Michigan and Northwestern in the former category.

The list of the 2014 Best Colleges was released late Monday night and can be found here.

The rankings were calculated using measures that education experts have proposed as reliable indicators of academic quality.

Data is first collected from each school on up to 16 factors of academic success.

  • Acceptance rate
  • Average alumni giving rate
  • Average freshman retention rate
  • Average graduation rate
  • Class size, 1-19 students
  • Class size, 50-plus students
  • Expenditures per student
  • Faculty compensation
  • Faculty with Ph.Ds or terminal degree
  • Graduation rate performance
  • High school class standing
  • High school counselor rating score
  • Peer assessment
  • Proportion of full-time faculty
  • SAT/ACT scores
  • Student-faculty ratio

Each factor is assigned a weight that reflects U.S. News’s judgment about how much a measure matters. Finally, the colleges and universities in each category are ranked against peers, based on composite weighted score.

Penn State’s improved national ranking may have to do with the new methodology system, adjusted to more accurately portray college admissions and student outcomes. High school class ranking received significantly less weight in this year’s list because less high school students include class standing on their transcripts. On the other hand, the weight of graduation and retention rates increased, as did the weight of SAT and ACT scores.

In addition to its list of rankings, U.S. News provides data, including tuition, class size, acceptance rates, graduation rate, on about 1,800 colleges and universities. While it’s not a percent indicator, it is a great tool for high school students to compare and select schools.

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About the Author

Jessica Tully

Jessica Tully is a first-year law student at Penn State's Dickinson School of Law. She graduated in May 2014 with degrees in journalism and political science.

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