On Sept. 12, U.S. News & World Report released its annual rankings of the top colleges and universities in the nation.
Most schools rarely move more than a few spaces up or down, but last year something remarkable occurred: The University of Miami jumped eight spots to No. 38. After spending the better part of the 2000s in the mid-50’s range, this was a major cause for celebration.
This event was publicized all over campus, from Facebook statuses to official correspondence from President Donna Shalala. But, this year we have fallen six spaces down, to No. 44. We didn’t need U.S. News to tell us that we are still the No. 1 school in the state of Florida and that we are significantly better in all aspects than that school in Tallahassee, but they did anyway.
As a high school student I remember my guidance counselor swearing by the “Top 100,” and insisting that the rank of my school would open doors and make my degree mean more, which remains a tough debate even for university administrators. But something that is rarely discussed when U.S. News releases its report is the exact formula they use to rank the schools and what they value most in a school.
The number one, most important factor in determining a college’s ranking at U.S. News is what other university administrators and high school counselors think of it. U.S. News describes it as giving “significant weight to the opinions of those in a position to judge a school’s undergraduate academic excellence. The academic peer assessment survey allows top academics – presidents, provosts, and deans of admissions – to account for intangibles at peer institutions such as faculty dedication to teaching.”
Do not dismay, you are not the only person who read that to think that is a pile of horse maneur beautifully laced with filler phrases. Please do not get me wrong, I have no doubt that university administrators have serious insight into the quality of a university, but wouldn’t the student employment rate, or heck, maybe the opinion of various national employers be of more importance in determining the quality of education the school provides?
There is very little one can do about the way U.S. News ranks schools, but one thing we can do as a school is continue excelling and being the best university in the world.
Mischael Cetoute is a sophomore majoring in africana studies and political science.