U.S. News and World Report ranked the University of Miami No. 48 in the 2015 edition of its “Best Colleges” list, released Tuesday.
UM is tied with the University of Florida, and shares the spot for the No. 1 college in Florida. The university was ranked No. 44 in 2013 and No. 38 in 2012, UM’s highest ranking since U.S. News began publishing its rankings list in 1983.
UM has moved up and down the list in the last decade because of small changes to the formula U.S. News and World Report uses, according to Thomas J. LeBlanc, executive vice president and provost. LeBlanc considers the improved quality of the freshman class and a better six-year graduation rate as the main reason UM has maintained its place in the top 50.
“Those two factors largely explain our improvement in the rankings,” he said.
The U.S. News formula takes into account measures like the quality of the freshman class and retention rates that results in a numerical ranking. Retention makes up 22.5 percent of the formula, while student selectivity accounts for 12.5 percent.
Since Donna E. Shalala became president in 2001, the SAT scores and class ranks of the freshman class have increased. Between 2001 and 2013, the mean SAT score of incoming freshmen rose from 1190 to 1325, and 70 percent of freshmen were in the top 10 percent of their high school classes. The six-year graduation rate has also risen from 63 percent to 81 percent since 2001. LeBlanc would like to see the rate increase to 85 percent.
He said that many students leave for financial reasons and are unable to graduate within six years.
“We’re working on giving more students need-based aid,” he said. UM does not provide 100 percent need-based aid, but offers merit-based aid that is not based on students’ financial situations.
Senior Madeline Gonzalez exhausted her scholarships and was forced to take out a $15,000 loan. Despite this, she believes rankings are not as important as networking.
“The rankings, to me, seem to have more of an influence on college bound students than it does on those who are graduating,” she said.
Freshman Chelsea Arcalas looked at the U.S. News rankings when she applying to college but did not ultimately base her decision to attend UM on them.
“I think what matters more is what you do to maximize your experience at a school rather than a number,” Arcalas said.