A new college ranking system — concocted by the Center for College Affordability & Productivity, spearheaded by Ohio University economist Richard Vedder — takes direct aim at the reliability of the US News & World Report rankings (“the U.S. News rankings ought to get a D,” says Vedder in a recent Forbes Magazine article) and seeks to rank colleges based on three key factors: “Our measures begin with student evaluations posted on Ratemyprofessors.com, a nine-year-old site with 6.8 million student-generated evaluations. We look at college graduation rates (as does U.S. News). We also calculate the percent of students winning awards like Rhodes Scholarships and undergraduate Fulbright travel grants. For vocational success we turn to Who’s Who in America. Though imperfect, it is the only comprehensive listing of professional achievement that includes undergraduate affiliations,” Vedder wrote in Forbes.
The logic of this system, says Vedder, is that is based on two important metrics: do students like their classes, are they successful after graduation? Taken on its face, this is not a bad off-handed way to stack up colleges.
At the top of the heap, differences between CCAP and USNWR ratings are small. Virginia is #1 among national publics in CCAP, #2 in USNWR. Berkeley is #1 in USNWR, #2 in CCAP. Etc.
Rutgers however fares extremely poorly. It plummets from #20 in USNWR to #60 in CCAP’s ranking of publics — where schools like Auburn (#46) and Kentucky (#45) decisively beat Rutgers.
In the rankings of national universities (private and public), Rutgers is #117, one ahead of Howard, several rungs below Dayton (#114).
Has Rutgers fallen that dramatically? Just maybe it has. After 15 years of poor leadership and a like number of years of inadequate state funding, maybe this is what you get: a truly mediocre state university.
It is hard to find anything in this to cheer about.