Taking the good with the bad

Quinnipiac falls 45 spots in Wall Street Journal ranking, rises to national stage in US News ranking

By on September 10, 2019

Two annual college rankings were released last week, setting up dueling perspectives for the direction Quinnipiac is headed.

Quinnipiac University tumbled down 45 spots in the 2020 Wall Street Journal (WSJ) College Rankings.

In the fourth installment of the annual rankings, Quinnipiac fell to an all-time low of No. 261. The rankings rate over 800 schools.

In the 2020 US News College Rankings, Quinnipiac is now considered a national university and was ranked No. 153.

Janna Marnell | The Quinnipiac Chronicle

“Rankings can provide valuable feedback on select outcomes and on the perceptions of various market segments,” said John Morgan, associate vice president for public relations. “The rankings assess a wide variety of qualitative and quantitative metrics, and they are helpful input to university administrators in targeting strengths and opportunities for improvement.”

Morgan said that the school was gratified that US News now considers Quinnipiac a national university, as well as appearing in the top 100 value schools. He also said that the school would examine the takeaways from the WSJ ranking.

US News and the WSJ take vastly different paths towards ranking universities.

Forbes, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic and several others have criticized the US News rankings for a wide variety of reasons.

Former Missouri State University president Michael T. Nietzel pointed out in a piece published in a Forbes article on Monday some of the issues.

He writes that universities can easily manipulate the numbers in many ways. Schools can delay admission of students who score lower on standardized tests to the spring as a way to appear more selective. Faculty salary accounts for 7% of the score despite even though there is no way to tell if the highest paid faculty are teaching undergraduate students or if lower-paid faculty are as engaged as their better-compensated colleagues.

Nietzel also details how 20% of the score is from academic reputation.

“This is an entirely subjective measure at best and a bogus one at worst,” Nietzel wrote. “US News claims it measures reputation through a survey it sends to more than 4,000 college presidents, provosts, admission officers. (Thankfully, the survey of high school counselors used in the past as another measure of reputation was dropped this year.) Hundreds of colleges are included in the survey. How does any president or provost even pretend to know the academic quality of so many institutions, let alone make quantitative distinctions among them? No wonder some college presidents have admitted they delegate a staffer in their office to fill out the survey. Or worse, they confess that they downgrade the ratings of peer institutions to make their own college look better by comparison.”

The WSJ’s ranking differs in the way it calculates its score. The score is derived from four main areas.

The largest section of the score is derived from student outcomes. This score is calculated from a wide variety of factors including graduation rate, value added to graduate salary and debt after graduation.

The next 30% of the score is calculated from academic resources. Weighted areas include finance per student, faculty per student and research papers per faculty.

The WSJ ranking polls students rather than presidents. The poll accounts for 20% of the score and weighs how effectively universities engage with their students. It measures student engagement, if students recommend the university, interaction with teachers and students and number of accredited programs.

The final 10% of the score is from the university environment. This number is calculated from staff diversity, student diversity, student inclusion and proportion of international students.

While Quinnipiac ranked higher in outcomes (176) and resources (358), it ranked much lower in engagement (401-500) and environment (501-600).

The lists also differed on their opinion of Quinnipiac’s value. US News ranked Quinnipiac as the 94th Best Value School while the WSJ did not rank Quinnipiac. To be on the WSJ Best Value list, you must achieve a top 250 ranking.

This is the first time Quinnipiac has fallen outside the top 250 in the WSJ rankings.

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