he University of San Francisco is back in the top tier of U.S. News and World Report’s 2009 national university rankings after dropping to the third tier last year. The first tier consists of the top 130 universities as determined by U.S. News and World Report. USF is ranked #127.
The rankings are based on seven different categories: peer assessment (25%), retention (20%), faculty resources (20%), student selectivity (15%), financial resources (10%), graduate rate performance (5%), and alumni giving (5%).
While it is flattering to be mentioned in the top tier of national universities with so many other prestigious schools, we feel that little if any value should be placed on the rankings for several reasons.
Not every school submits their data to US News and World Report.
The report only includes 1,400 colleges and universities nation wide.
The very fact that schools submit information themselves and there is no arbitrary data collector could lead the data to be skewed.
There are some factors in the rankings that are not relevant in rating the type of education you get at a university. Alumni donations have little to do with what students are learning in class. USF focuses on educating students to help others, work that many not allow alumni the financial resouces to donate to their alma mater.
There are many reasons why students transfer to and from a university. Some students transfer for sports, others leave for financial reasons, and so on.
Basing 20% of the total ranking on retention alone is much too high and doesn’t take into account those other factors.
There are also factors that are not included in the assessment that are pivotal parts of an educational experience.
The learning environment is not taken into account. There is no way of accounting for the off-campus, city experience that a student gets at USF in these rankings.
There is no mention of small class size and easily accessible professors; two things that students at USF benefit from.
What is most confusing about these rankings is that USF jumped from 3rd tier to 1st tier in just one year.
Have the qualities that make USF what it is changed that significantly over the past year?
San Francisco is still the same diverse, unique city that it was a year ago.
USF’s Jesuit values and core mission has not changed.
Our commitments to small classes, quality academic programming and educating the whole person have not changed. These are the factors that our university should be judged upon.
We are troubled by the U.S. News and World Report rankings primarily because of the weight they carry for students choosing which schools to apply to and eventually go to.
We advocate choosing a school based on many other factors other that US News and World Report’s rankings.
Students should choose a school that fits their needs both in an educational and social sense. There is no substitute for comfort.
Students are more likely to succeed in a city and on a campus in which they feel they belong. This should be taken far more seriously than the report, if you consider the report at all.