In another indicator of the quality of education we provide, half of our universities achieved a ranking as a top-tier regional university in the North. Earlier this month U.S. News released its 2012 edition of Best Colleges, which includes rankings and data of more than 1,600 schools nationwide. Millersville, Shippensburg and West Chester tied for 82nd; Bloomsburg and Slippery Rock tied for 94th; East Stroudsburg ranked 107th; Kutztown ranked 122nd.
U.S. News rankings are based on: Peer assessment – 25 percent; Graduation and retention rates – 25 percent; Faculty resources – 20 percent; Student selectivity – 15 percent; Financial resources – 10 percent; Alumni giving – 5 percent.
With their emphasis on financial resources and alumni giving, U.S. News makes it more difficult for public universities to compete with private institutions. The Washington Post points out that since 1991 the five public institutions ranked highest by U.S. News have slipped at least seven places each.
Still, our universities continue to achieve “Best College” notice, even as State System universities are at a distinct disadvantage when comparing resources (clearly 35 percent of the ranking basis) with private schools in the Commonwealth like Villanova or the University of Scranton. The cuts to the 2011-12 state appropriation make it even more difficult to retain or boost our rankings.
On the other hand, our universities’ emphasis on personal education tends to help our numbers. As U.S. News notes, “Research shows that the more satisfied students are about their contact with professors, the more they will learn and the more likely it is they will graduate.”
To see how your university fared, check out the complete list of U.S. News college rankings.