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Volume 72, Issue 17, Wednesday, September 13, 2006

News

Fuller: Ranking not whole story

by NADA ELSAYED and AMNA KHALIQUE
The Daily Cougar

Every year, colleges are ranked by U.S. News and World Report, which considers different factors when evaluating each university, including undergraduate programs and graduate schools. 

In the latest ranking, the University is ranked in the fourth tier (out of four tiers) and its law school is ranked No. 70 in the nation.

According to a report by Duke University, U.S. News scores national universities and liberal arts colleges on seven weighted categories of measurements: peer assessments, student selectivity, faculty resources, graduation and retention rate, financial resources, alumni giving, and graduation rate performance, which is the difference between actual and predicted graduation rates.

"The method has been unchanged for the last four years and for three years prior to that," Robert Morse, director of data research for U.S. News, told The Chronicle, Duke's student newspaper.

Morse explained the newsweekly's analysts choose and weigh scoring criteria based on regular discussions with experts in higher education and data analysis.

Jeff Fuller, associate director of admissions at UH, said the methodology used by U.S. News is outdated. 

"As more and more students are enrolling from diverse backgrounds, including first-generation students, today's college student is very different than students 20 years ago," Fuller said. 

He said ranking should not just be based on external factors but internal as well. 

"For large, public universities in major urban cities like Houston, factors that impact our students like working full-time as well as studying -- not because they have to but because they want to -- and commuting long distances directly impacts our ability to graduate students in four years," Fuller said. 

Fuller said such rankings do not affect enrollment for in-state or out-of-state students. 

"Most students and parents do not give much credence to these rankings because they do not reflect the ‘fit' a student must feel when deciding where to attend college," he said. 

University Studies freshman Christine Salinas said college rankings did not affect her decision to attend UH. The Houston native thought about applying to Michigan State but decided against it because moving away from home and starting college seemed a tad overwhelming. 

Salinas said it might also be because she hasn't decided what she wants to major in. 

"After I'm done with my core classes, I am thinking of transferring, and that's when I will look into rankings or top programs," Salinas said. 

For Salinas, the decision more to do with convenience than a national ranking.

 Send comments to dcnews@mail.uh.edu

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