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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

UA ranks near bottom of Pac-12 in newst U.S. News and World Report college rankings

The UA and ASU both fall within the bottom third of Pac-12 schools in this year’s U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges Rankings.

The UA ranked 124th for national universities, compared to 120th last year. The University of Utah tied for 124th while Arizona State University moved up from 143rd to 132nd. Oregon State University was the lowest-ranked Pac-12 school at 138th.

The rankings, released annually, are based on a variety of factors including student retention rates, graduation rates and acceptance rates. More than 200 schools received ranks this year while an additional 100 were included without rank or with the rank unpublished.

The UA’s progress in the rankings from year to year is more important than its place among other schools, said Melissa Vito, vice president of Student Affairs. The Arizona Board of Regents compares the UA to peer institutions, which may or may not be within the Pac-12, she said.

“We look at us against us,” Vito said.

The UA’s average freshman retention rate is about 79 percent while its fall 2010 acceptance rate was 75 percent, according to the university’s profile on the ranking website. Stanford University, which leads the Pac-12 at No. 5, has a 98 percent retention rate and 7 percent acceptance rate.

“Our admission standards tend to be more inclusive,” Vito said. “It does impact retention data.”

Vito said she follows the rankings and does look at the cause of changes from year to year. The U.S. News rankings are just one of many international and national rankings, she said.

“We don’t want to play to the rankings,” Vito said. “But it’s good to be aware of the way people are assessing the university.”

The UA’s rank has remained fairly consistent over the years, according to Kasey Urquidez, assistant vice president for Student Affairs and Dean of Admissions. The ranking is subjective and does not include areas like undergraduate research and number of tenured faculty, where the UA is strong, she said.

“We know parents and students look at these,” Urquidez said. “But we take them with a grain of salt.”

The UA’s top priorities are improving retention and graduation rates, Urquidez said. The UA’s ranking may improve as a result, though that is not the goal, she said.

“If we keep our eye on that, we’re doing the right thing,” she added.

Rankings do influence prospective students, said Rafael Meza, director of undergraduate recruitment for the Office of Admissions. The office uses the UA’s overall ranking as well as specific program rankings to give students an idea of the university’s strengths.

Though rankings may be a starting point for students, other considerations such as the campus experience and financial aid play large roles in their decisions, Meza said.

“It’s all about the fit,” he said.

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