By Kyle Peveto, Staff Writer
Recently the formula used by U.S. News & World Report to rank colleges has come under fire.
Articles in the University of Alabama’s Crimson White newspaper and the New York Times criticizing the ranking system do not matter much to ACU faculty, though.
“The majority of students don’t use that as a main way to choose a college,” said Garner Roberts, assistant director of marketing and public relations.
According to a study by the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, 60 percent of college freshmen said rankings were not important at all. Thirty percent said the rankings were somewhat important, while 10 percent said the ranking was very important.
U.S. News rankings are important to ACU for other reasons, Roberts said.
“One of the main goals is trying to stay in the top quarter in academic quality while staying in the bottom quarter of price,” Roberts said. Since the 1998-99 academic year, ACU has done exactly that.
“It does have some authority, though,” Roberts said. “It’s like a third-party endorsement.”
Alumni, donors, the Board of Trustees and others interested in the path of the university see the reports and are confident the university is doing well, Roberts added.
ACU first appeared on the ranking nine years ago and has remained on the list since then.
The ranking system for master’s level universities, ACU’s category, includes several different variables in the formula including peer assessment, which makes up 25 percent of the ranking.
Other areas that are rated are: student selectivity, which accounts for 15 percent; faculty resources, 20 percent; graduation and retention rate, 20 percent; financial resources, 10 percent; and alumni giving, 5 percent.
Problems found in the ranking formula include the amount of time non-traditional students may take to graduate and the peer assessment portion of the score.
High-level administrators are polled on their knowledge of other schools in their category.
Some administrators think department heads and others should be polled.