A Case Analysis

Explaining CWRU’s single spot drop in college rankings

Aneeka Ayyar, Contributing Reporter

With a record 21,500 applications this year there must be something about Case Western Reserve University that draws high school seniors. For some, it’s Officer Mark’s friendly wave on visitation day or our perpetually underrated sports teams, but for most it’s the academic rigor.

CWRU’s strong academics are often reflected in national college rankings. Last year, CWRU came in at number 37 on the U.S. News National University Rankings, but this year it dropped one spot, tying with the University of California, Davis for 38th place. The report, released on Sept. 9, analyzed statistics from the applicants for the class of 2017.

The criteria for U.S. News rankings are based on six specific categories: retention, faculty services, student selectivity, financial resources, graduate rate performance and alumni giving rate.

Despite the drop in ranking, CWRU actually improved in almost all of the categories compared to last year. Faculty resources went up due to a number of improvements around campus, and the university gained points in student selectivity as well. Only 38 percent of applicants were accepted this year, a drastic drop from the 52 percent admission rate of last year.

U.S. News collects data through the college, students and high school guidance counselors. They also consider letters from guidance counselors discussing impressions of certain colleges that their students expressed.

CWRU also improved in guidance department recommendations this year.

So why the drop in ranking? The only area where CWRU slipped this year was in graduation rate, with only 80 percent of CWRU students graduating in four years.

“The funny thing is that the area we lost points in is a lagging indicator,” said Robert McCullough, director of Undergraduate Admissions. “Graduate rate is affected by the class of 2013.”

McCullough said that First Year Experience and admissions have been working together to recruit more students.

“Our attendance at open houses, off-campus events and even at college fairs has definitely increased,” he said. “More students are interested in us and that’s great.”

Admissions isn’t concerned with the change in rankings though. Although they are useful for students to determine which schools to apply to, McCullough said that a small drop shouldn’t deter motivated students away from applying to CWRU.

“Honestly, there are so many positive factors about CWRU,” he said. “Rankings give a reputation, but I think we are healthy with where we are now.”