Ranking does not fairly reflect College

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September 15, 2011

9:06 PM

Every year, U.S. News and World Report creates a list ranking colleges and universities considered “National Universities.” To be in this category, like the College of William and Mary, a school must offer “a full range of undergraduate majors, master’s, and doctoral degrees,” according to the magazine’s website. This year the College ranked 33rd out of 194 rankings, although there are several other schools on the list marked as “unranked.”

What does this mean about the College? It demonstrates that our commitment to academics, to small class sizes and to small professor-to-student ratios is noticed outside of our community. It is specifically listed that 46.7 percent of classes at the College have fewer than 20 students. However, the descriptions of other ranked schools focus on aspects that seem to be ignored at the College.

The universities ranked in the top five ranks have tuition rates ranging from $37,000 to $45,290, which demonstrates to me that low tuition is not a priority for this list. Granted, schools with more money can offer more support to students with financial need and can offer more programs, but I feel that several schools with smaller tuition rates still offer a wide variety of programs and financial aid to students. The top five schools also have a low rate of admission, the highest being 7 to 19 percent. This demonstrates that a higher ranking is given to schools that seem more “prestigious” based on the number of rejection letters they send.
The College’s admission’s rate, according to the ranking list, is 32 percent. The ranking also allows for schools to be tied — five schools are tied for number 5. This causes a bit of a discrepancy, as several schools can be ranked equally.

This means that the College’s ranking could have been higher, especially since there is a tie for the 31st position. Personally, I feel that ranking number 33 is extremely low, especially considering the types of programs offered at the College, as well as the clubs and opportunities offered, and that a lower rank was given because of the rate of admissions. Schools that have a higher tuition and a lower admission rate seem to be at the top of this list, mainly because these qualifications make them more prestigious, but schools who have a higher admission’s rate also are able to keep tuition lower, which is important if you are paying in-state or out-of-state tuition rates. The highest-ranking colleges are also all private schools, which can give more funding to students than a state-funded school and sometimes have more specialized programs in fields.

This rank does not accurately portray the opportunities for students here at the College. While 33 out of 194 is not a bad score, I feel that we can do much better. The information given with our ranking also ignores several key groups and focuses here at the College, particularly the high percentage of students who participate in community service and volunteer events and positions and who serve in some type of leadership role in the community.

The main aspect mentioned is the small professor-to-student ratio, which is a big deal, but it is not the only important thing.

There are many different factors that make the College attractive, and not all rankings place equal value on these factors. The most important thing to remember is that the ranking is only a number decided by a few people who do not know the College like we do.

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