U.S. News & World Report ranked the University of Miami No. 44 in its 2013 edition of the “Best Colleges” list, released Wednesday.
Although the university continues to hold the No. 1 spot in Florida and is the only school in the state to be among the top 50 universities in the nation, UM dropped six spots from No. 38 from last year’s ranking.
“The university going up, going down or staying the same depends on factors that we cannot control,” Executive Vice President and Provost Thomas J. LeBlanc said. “I can tell you this year our SAT scores are higher and our graduation rates are better. All of our data is better, but 25 percent of the formula is a reputational survey.”
The reputational survey is sent to college and university presidents, provosts, deans of admission, and high school admission counselors across the nation. They are asked to rate each school on a scale one to five, one being the worst and five being the best. The rates are then averaged and each school is given its own score.
While the reputational survey constitutes 25 percent of the U.S. News & World Report’s formula, roughly 40 percent is based on SAT scores, class rank, freshmen retention rate and graduation rates across a six-year period. Other factors taken into account include alumni giving, faculty resources and teacher-to-student ratio.
“Having been ranked among the top 50 for the last four years, we will continue to work toward our strategic goals in all areas and to build on the remarkable achievements we’ve made over the last decade,” LeBlanc said.
Since President Donna E. Shalala joined the university in 2001, UM has risen 23 spots in U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings, which is an “unprecedented growth for a university as young as ours,” Student Government president Nawara Alawa said.
“The rest of the world now knows what you’ve known about UM,” LeBlanc said. “They now think we’ve gotten a lot better. You all knew it, but they didn’t know it. Now, the word is out.”
Though U.S. News and World Report is the most well known and well regarded college ranking system, it does not measure factors such as cultural diversity on campus, extracurricular activities or student clubs and organizations.
“It pays too much attention on SAT, which are not good predictors of college success,” LeBlanc said. “They take state universities and compare them to private universities. They compare rich universities to poor universities. They’re pretending that these colleges are all on a single scale and that you can just rank them. It’s unfortunate that that is how it works.”
Senior Connie Fossi said that the rankings do not change her opinion of UM.
“I don’t pay attention to numbers,” Fossi said. “It doesn’t change the quality of education that our university gives to students, which is excellent.”
According to the 2013 U.S. News & World Report, UM’s fall 2011 acceptance rate was 38.3 percent, the average freshmen retention rate was 90 percent and the six-year graduation rate was 78 percent.
“It has been, and continues to be, great to be a Miami Hurricane,” Alawa said.