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Despite Criticism, University Boasts U.S. News Ranking

Glenn Rohrbacker, Editor in Chief

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The University of New Haven celebrated their standing in the U.S. News & World Report College Rankings for 2018, despite criticism about the system’s accuracy.

Some of the criticisms include:

A recent Politico report shows how the college rankings promote economic inequality among students on campus. A review by Boston Magazine covered the years-long effort by Northeastern University to radically change their status in the rankings by editing their policies. A 2009 report from Center for College Affordability and Productivity details the issues with innacurate college ranking.

The university ranked 94th in top universities out of the total 196 in the Northeast. Last year, the university ranked 95th.

“The reputation and reach of the University of New Haven is clearly growing,” said President Steven H. Kaplan. “This momentum is a reflection of the outstanding faculty, high quality education, and the dedicated student body.”

But it’s hard for U.S. News to rank those qualities objectively, according to their website. Almost a quarter of the evaluation comes from graduation and retention rates. Another quarter comes from a subjective report filled out by college presidents, provosts, deans, and high school guidance counselors to gain non-tangible indicators.

Rankings also stem from student-faculty relationships, which include faculty salaries, student-faculty-ratios, and class size. Rankings also include acceptance rate. The university’s was 81 percent last year, compared to Princeton University’s seven percent rate, the number one school in the same category.

Other smaller percentages include alumni giving, financial resources, and graduation rate trends.

University of New Haven Vice President for Marketing and Communications Lyn Chamberlin recognizes the criticism for the ranking system, but says it is still a good way for prospective students to see the university’s message.

“The rankings clearly favor schools that are very well known,” she said.

Chamberlin says U.S. News is the standard for college rankings.

“We have to take it seriously for that reason,” she said. “A good ranking turns into

more good students applying to the school.”

A university task force made up of different staff members across disciplines that reviews how to approach the rankings for the following year. While the university dedicates time and resources to the rankings, Chamberlin says no policies or initiatives have been made to directly influence ranking numbers.

Other colleges and universities have come under fire for misrepresenting their statistics to better their rankings. From a 2014 Boston Magazine story:

“In 2011, Iona College officials admitted to misreporting acceptance rates, SAT scores, graduation rates, and alumni donation amounts over the course of a decade. In 2012, Claremont McKenna College copped to misreporting SAT scores for several years. Also in 2012, George Washington University admitted to inflating the percentage of students who graduated at the top of their high school classes, and Emory University said it had misreported high school GPAs for four years and SAT scores for nearly a dozen years.”

The college rankings also seem to favor wealthier private schools over public schools, according to a review by the Washington Post. Only one public school (UC-Berkeley) was included in the top 20 national list of rankings for 2016.

“We compete for undergraduates very successfully (against all of the top 20 schools) and offer great programs for them, but the metrics for the U.S. News ranking seem ill suited to reflect our excellence, or for that matter any of the great flagship publics,” Berkeley’s Chancellor Nicholas B. Dirks told The Washington Post.

In addition to ranking the university 94th on the list of Best Colleges in the Northeast, U.S. News ranked the school 49th on the Best Colleges for Veterans list, and 55th for the Best Value Schools. The university’s engineering program is ranked 74th in the nation, according to the list.

Chamberlin said that the university was pleased to move up in the rankings this year and she said she hopes to continue that progress while defining the school’s message.

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Despite Criticism, University Boasts U.S. News Ranking