Case Western Reserve University has been ranked 41st in U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings of U.S. national universities. This is the same ranking the university received last year, and this is the 15th year that Case has been ranked in the top 50 American national universities.
The standards used to calculate this ranking have been adjusted; graduation rate has been given greater importance in the calculation, and the opinion of high school counselors has been included. U.S. News and World Report describes the calculation as based on academic reputation, freshman retention, faculty resources, student selectivity, and financial resources.
In a competing list, Washington Monthly has ranked Case Western Reserve at 17th of 259 U.S. national universities. The factors considered included social mobility, research, and community service. Social mobility was taken from an analysis of recruiting and graduation of low-income students, while community service included references to Peace Corps and ROTC rankings, as well as hours spent contributing to the community. Despite the drop from 15th last year, CWRU’s ranking has improved dramatically in Washington Monthly in recent years, as the university was ranked 42nd in 2007. The drastic improvements in Washington Monthly rankings contrast sharply with U.S. News & World Report, where CWRU has seen minimal improvement in the last three years.
Regardless, members of the CWRU administration expressed their satisfaction with CWRU’s standing. “I am pleased that U.S. News & World Report continues to recognize the strength of our academic programs and dedication to providing undergraduates a rich learning experience,” President Barbara R. Snyder said in a press release. “We have begun making significant strides in admissions, research and alumni outreach, and I am confident that this progress will be reflected in coming years.”
Despite the recent plateau, CWRU received a record number of applications this spring. Undergraduate admissions only targeted a slight size increase from the freshman class a year earlier, and the percentage of students admitted has dropped as a result. This is beneficial from a rankings perspective, as the student selectivity criterion used in U.S. News & World Report includes acceptance rate. The other two criteria are admissions test scores and the proportion of enrolled freshmen who graduated in the top 10 percent of their class. As CWRU becomes a more popular choice for high school seniors, competition should ensure that these factors improve as well.
Even without an improvement in ranking, CWRU remains the only Ohio institution in the top 50 American national universities. CWRU students attributed varying importance to the ranking. “The ranking is just a number; it’s what you do at school that matters.” said Jeff Dwulit-Smith, a fourth-year biochemistry and nutrition major. After reviewing the criteria used to calculate U.S. News & World Report’s ranking, he added, “CWRU has been trying to reduce its environmental impact, and that doesn’t seem to be a major criterion for ranking.”