Editorial: U.S. News rankings puts UConn outside of Top 20 public schools
Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 20:09
The U.S. News and World Report National University Rankings published this past week did not bear good news for the University of Connecticut. UConn fell out of the Top 20 public universities, moving from a tie for 19th place to a tie for 21st. Overall, the university is now ranked as the 63rd best in the nation, sharing that spot with the University of Georgia. The banners displayed along Hillside Drive that proclaimed our achievement of a spot in the Top 20 have, naturally, been taken down.
One may ask, “What in this past year caused our national ranking to diminish?” That question likely has no answer. There is no logical or realistic reasoning that can explain why UConn should be, specifically, the 63rd or 64th or 65th best university. The fact remains only that there are 62 universities that U.S. News and World Report deems “better” than us, and many more “worse.” Our place in the rankings is not determined by the objective value of our university, in a strict sense, but by a comparison to the varied qualities of all others. In fact, the methodological explanation for the ratings published by the news magazine is quick to acknowledge that “the intangibles that make up the college experience can’t be measured by a series of data points.” The claim that the University of Georgia is somehow equal to us, for better or worse, is a difficult one to substantiate without opening up U.S. News and World Report’s methodology to extensive criticism.
The famous college rankings recently published indeed have real value: namely, to help prospective students determine a certain range of universities suitable for them. But it would be a grave mistake to measure the worth of our university solely through reference to the qualities of others. Perhaps next year we will have re-entered the Public University Top 20; perhaps we will have fallen further. This arbitrary statistic should not concern us too much. The statistics that we should concern ourselves with should include our graduation rate, the average student debt of graduates, the test scores and backgrounds of our new freshman classes and the future experiences of our alumni. Only these sorts of objective measures can truly give us an indication of the success of our university. Thus, our slight shift in an arbitrary ranking should not be the cause of too much hand-wringing.