Ohio State climbed four spots to No. 52 in the “U.S. News and World Report” annual list of the best colleges in the country after its ranking dropped last year.
The national list features 201 rankings, with five Big Ten universities ranked higher than OSU. Northwestern University, the University of Michigan, Pennsylvania State University, the University of Illinois and the University of Wisconsin were ranked at No. 12, No. 28, No. 37 and a tie for No. 41, respectively.
OSU is tied with Tulane University, the University of Texas, George Washington University and the University of Washington.
Princeton and Harvard were the two highest ranked universities for the eleventh year in a row.
OSU also rose to No. 16 in the list of top public universities in the U.S., preceded by Big Ten universities Michigan, Penn State, Illinois and Wisconsin at No. 4, No. 8 and tied for No. 11, respectively.
Indicators that influence a college’s academic ranking are “assessment by administrators at peer institutions, retention of students, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, alumni giving, graduation rate performance and, for national universities and national liberal arts colleges only, high school counselor ratings of colleges,” according to the “U.S. News and World Report” website.
Although OSU went up in this year’s rankings, Dolan Evanovich, the vice president for strategic enrollment planning, said the main focus is the increase in student applications, which have grown to 35,000 from 28,000 applications in just one year.
“It’s nice to go up a couple of points in the rankings but the real indicator, I think a better indicator, is the student demand for our Ohio State brand of education,” he said.
When OSU fell one spot in last year’s rankings, Evanovich said something similar.
“In any given year, your ranking could go up one or two spaces or down one or two space,” Evanovich said in 2012. “So in the big scheme of things, you just have to keep it in perspective.”
Many people criticize the rankings because the indicators used for comparison are often changed year-to-year, colleges can intentionally spend money on things to raise their ranking, quality of education isn’t taken into consideration in the rankings and a significant portion of the ranking comes from reputation, according to The Atlantic.
This year, Evanovich said he does not believe any change in ranking impacts the number of students who apply, even if a ranking increases.
“It’s really hard to draw a direct correlation to that,” Evanovich said. “There are so many other things that we do in the recruiting process that kind of marginalizes the process.”
Although students may not always see a university’s ranking as a deciding factor for enrollment, some said a positive review can still make a good impression.
Karen Stassen, a third-year in computer science and engineering, said while rankings were not that important to her when making the decision on where to go to college, she is still pleased OSU was recognized.
“I’m glad that I’m in a school that’s ranked fairly high, that it’s not getting bad reviews,” Stassen said.
Jacob Simko, a second-year in chemical engineering, expressed a similar opinion.
“It’s got that reputation regardless of where its national ranking is,” Simko said. “It just has that big name reputation, not just for being a good sports school, but it’s got that pretty high class academic school for the state tuition price.”
“U.S. News and World Report” was not able to be reached for comment.