U.S. News changes ranking methodology
Admissions consultants do not say the change is significant
September 10, 2013, 10:35 pm · Updated September 10, 2013, 11:46 pm·
On Monday night, U.S. News and World Report released its annual college rankings for 2014 with a revamped ranking methodology that put the University in seventh place.
The methodology differs from years past in its focus on outcome measures from universities as opposed to what students look like when they enroll. For example, the weight put on student input factors has decreased from 15 percent to 12.5 percent.
“I think its a good change generally because from a consumer standpoint, I think it helps consumers/parents understand what is likely to happen if they go to college x or college y,” said Steven Goodman, a Top Colleges educational consultant and admissions strategist. “Parents really want to understand whether the $200,000 investment that they are going to make is going to be worth it.”
Going deeper into the changes, U.S. News reduced the weight given to high school class standing from 6 percent to 3.25 percent, and put more weight on SAT and ACT scores, increasing its weight from 7.5 percent to 8.125 percent. This change is due to the trend among high schools to not include class standings on transcripts.
The weight put on acceptance rate has also decreased, from 1.5 percent to 1.25 percent, while graduation and retention rates in universities have an increased weight of 22.5 percent, up from 20 percent last year.
Penn tied with Duke University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology this year for seventh place, moving up one spot from last year’s ranking. The University was also tied with Duke last year.
Regardless of these changes in methodology, as well Penn’s new ranking, many admissions professionals do not think that the change is significant.
“You have to be really obsessed with wanting to go to a higher ranked school for this to affect you,” said Michael Goran, director and Lead Educational Consultant at IvySelect, a college consulting company. “If something substantial happens, and Penn dropped out of the top ten or perhaps catapulted up to the top 4, it would have more of an effect.”
Goran thinks a change in rank might have more influence on international students.
“Obviously, with international students, it’s often more of an issue because some families think that US News and World Report rankings are official government rankings,” Goran added.
Dean of Admissions Eric Furda thinks a focus on outcomes is important.
“Schools need to be accountable,” Furda said in an interview on Monday afternoon. “We have to be knowledgeable and frank about what it is we are trying to achieve.”
However, he added, “our faculty would say that there is so much more than just this linear admit, experience, graduation, job.”