CWRU ranked 37 by U.S. News and World Report

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Here’s a breakdown of how the US News and World Report decides on a college’s ranking.

Princeton University is in first place, Harvard University is second and Yale University is third. Columbia University, Stanford University and University of Chicago are tied.

This is the familiar beginning to the US News and World Report’s National University Rankings. For 2016, Case Western Reserve University tied with the University of California, Santa Barbara for the 37th spot, with a score of 63/100.

For the last 32 years, U.S. News & World Report has released annual rankings of schools, categorizing them by various programs and specialties. For 2016, the list included 1,376 schools out of a total 1,800 studied.

The methodology used to determine a school’s ranking is based on seven main criteria, including retention, academic reputation and graduation rate.

U.S. News & World Report acknowledges that there is more to a university than what is covered by these indicators but says the rankings are meant to give a glimpse at the general quality of an institution.

For many students, the U.S. News & World Report college rankings, and lists like it, do just that: they serve as a starting point in a college search.  

First-year Maya Rao said that she used rankings like the U.S News & World Report’s in the beginning of the application process to pick a range of schools to consider.

“I think I was looking at the rankings at that point but once I started narrowing it down…the rankings went away and it just became which one I liked the best,” said Rao.

“We’d like to say [rankings don’t] matter,” said Rick Bischoff, CWRU’s vice president for enrollment. “Small changes don’t matter, but it’s a way when parents and students don’t have a way of making sense of the noise.”

While they do not ignore them, CWRU staff does not work specifically to increase its rankings.

“I don’t sit down in a meeting and strategize how to increase our U.S. News ranking,” said Bischoff. “I sit down and look at how we can make our undergraduate experience better, how we can make our story better.”

First-year Ellen Kendall thinks that rankings leave out some things that are important in judging colleges.

“You can’t quantify people and people are what make a college what it is,” said Kendall. “This college would be nothing if it didn’t have the student body it does”

Bischoff said, “I think U.S. News undervalues things about the experience here.”

There are other lists out there that rank schools on different criteria. For example, CWRU was recently included Quartz’s top 25 schools responsible for the greatest advancements in science.

The Obama administration has also been working for the last two years on a federal ranking system, aiming to give prospective college students and their parents reliable information. This has manifested in a “college scorecard,” available online, which allows students to compare schools on measurements important to them.