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US NEWS Releases Top 10 Public Schools, and Things Changed

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Replies to: US NEWS Releases Top 10 Public Schools, and Things Changed

  • saillakeeriesaillakeerie Registered User Posts: 1,665 Senior Member
    Keeping them public and not funding them puts them on a long slow slide into irrelevance.

    Even by CC standards this is overly dramatic.
  • CorbettCorbett Registered User Posts: 2,656 Senior Member
    This reflects the ongoing funding issues at both Wisconsin and Illinois. If the state can no longer afford to fund these schools, they should allow them to become private.
    Privatization of the flagship Wisconsin or Illinois campuses would inevitably reduce the access for state residents. If they were privatized, these schools would increase the cost of in-state tuition, or cut back on the number of slots of in-state residents, or both.

    It's hard to see why state residents would go for this deal. It's not like there are lots of other highly-ranked public universities in Wisconsin or Illinois that they could turn to instead.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 62,870 Senior Member
    TTG wrote:
    I never really appreciated how unique William and Mary is, as a top-flight, non-flagship public LAC/university. It is pretty remarkable that 4 of the top 7 are in southern states, though all 3 of their states (VA, NC, GA) have strong economic centers and a large tech sector.

    Those states have relatively large populations, while the listed universities are not that big as far as state flagships go. The size (in undergraduate students) of the state flagship relative to the state's population of graduating high school seniors is likely a big factor in its admission selectivity, and hence its USNWR ranking that is heavily based on that. As you probably know, California has a very large population, but UCB is not proportionately large compared to other state flagships in lower population states, so a smaller percentage of California high school seniors will find space at UCB than, for example, the percentage of Arizona high school seniors who will find space at the University of Arizona.
  • MidwestmomofboysMidwestmomofboys Registered User Posts: 2,852 Senior Member
    Illinois has struggled through lack of a state budget and admissions scandals, though the admissions scandal is old, at this point.

    Wisconsin had highly publicized budget battle with Governor Walker, but that too is in past as most recent state budget actually restores prior funding cuts, and Wisconsin had a successful fundraising campaign, with $150 million raised from Morgridges and others, to fund faculty retention and recruitment. So the "hit" to UW (as a UW parent) is based on past events which -- of course -- continue to weigh on people's minds, but the university has managed through it and moved on.

    An admitted bias, but I struggle to see how world-class research universities like Illinois and Wisconsin can be considered as "lesser" than Irvine or Santa Barbara. I don't put much stock in #10 vs. #15, but it sells subscriptions.
  • CorbettCorbett Registered User Posts: 2,656 Senior Member
    edited September 7
    An admitted bias, but I struggle to see how world-class research universities like Illinois and Wisconsin can be considered as "lesser" than Irvine or Santa Barbara.
    The answer is simple: USNWR is (in theory) ranking universities in terms of their undergraduate programs -- not in terms of their doctoral research programs. The target audience for the USNWR rankings is (in theory) high school seniors, not prospective PhD candidates.

    And UCI and UCSB have better numbers than Illinois or Wisconsin in terms of (perceived) undergraduate-oriented criteria like freshman acceptance rate, freshman test scores, undergraduate class sizes, and graduation rates. That's also how small schools with relatively few grad students and little research reputation (like Dartmouth or William & Mary) can outscore much larger and better-known "world-class research universities" (which Illinois and Wisconsin indeed are).

    There are well-known alternative rankings, like the Times Higher Education Rankings, that are more focused on research reputation. In the Times rankings, Illinois and Wisconsin do top UCI, USCB, Dartmouth, and W&M.
  • ThankYouforHelpThankYouforHelp Registered User Posts: 1,220 Senior Member
    @Midwestmomofboys I think you forget how huge California is and how many elite students it produces.
    UCSB, for example, may be only the third or fourth ranked school in the UC system, but it has a much lower admissions rate than UIUC and Wisconsin, and as many Nobel Prizes this century as UIUC and UWisconsin combined.
  • MidwestmomofboysMidwestmomofboys Registered User Posts: 2,852 Senior Member
    @Corbett and @ThankYouforHelp My personal view (which US News has declined to incorporate into its methodology . . . ) is the "quality" of the school is largely linked to the research and teaching quality of its faculty. To me, acceptance rate is practically meaningless in determining the quality of the education as it reflects popularity and, in the case of UC schools, size of in state population. Perhaps I should have indicated that the UW News methodology simply doesn't measure what matters to my family and, of course, each family has to identify its own priorities. As an academic family, one of our priorities was quality of the teaching faculty and that includes the quality of their Ph.D. training. We had more insight into how to weigh that than some other families might, but were also blind in assessing some academic areas. For instance, when my UW kid got interested in Greek archaeology, and mentioned his prof got his Ph.D. from Cinncinnati, it didn't mean much to us. Then we learned that Cinncinnati is a top program for Greek archaeology -- who knew? Not us, apparently. So, UCSB faculty may be mean its "X" department is top 10 in the country -- and I respect that. But UW and UIUC are superb institutions and I would hope families don't think that #10 means something a whole lot more than #12.

  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 62,870 Senior Member
    "Quality of teaching" is not readily subject to standardized measures, so most attempts to rank colleges use proxy measures (spending, class size, etc.), if they attempt to measure that at all.

    USNWR rankings seem to be designed to match popular opinion for known colleges.
  • TTGTTG Registered User Posts: 643 Member
    edited September 7
    I'm always struck by the fact that a couple of spots on any ranking matter to anyone. Take the mythical top 2000 or so colleges/universities, all of which have dedicated faculty, hard-working students, and some sort of campus, often very nice. 2000 is about the same number of students that attend a lot of suburban high schools.

    Now say someone developed some sort of methodology to rank all 2000 students at one high school in terms of athleticism. A few, admittedly, might be a young LeBron James, John Elway, Bryce Harper, or Usain Bolt and really excel their peers.. But no college shines like Bolt. For the most part, though, is there going to be much difference between #10 and #12? Between #30 and #40? Between #80 and #100? I might even prefer #40 on my basketball team and #30 on my baseball team. #80 might be a very strong long-distance runner and #100 a very strong wrestler. How can I really compare them?

    It's the same with schools. There's really little difference between schools that are within 10-20 spots, or even 30-40 spots, even if one accepts the validity of the methodology.

    It's HOW you go to school, not WHERE you go. Take UC-Irvine, a school I've never visited and know little about. I do know, though, that there are great professors and staff there, and students with great credentials who work very hard and will be very "successful" in life, some who will be more "successful" than peers who graduate from Penn or Johns Hopkins or Wash U, schools ranked a few dozen spots ahead of them in some rankings.
  • merc81merc81 Registered User Posts: 7,242 Senior Member
    edited September 7
    Based on statistics (excepting a methodology change), these would be the probable ranges for the first 11 public universities:

    UCB: 20-23
    UVa: 23-29
    UCLA: 23-29
    UMich: 24-29
    UNC: 30-31
    W&M: 31-36
    G-tech: 32-38
    UCSB: 34-49
    UCI: 36-53
    UCSD: 37-53
    UFlorida: 39-53
  • CorbettCorbett Registered User Posts: 2,656 Senior Member
    edited September 7
    Based on statistics (excepting a methodology change), these would be the probable ranges for the first 11 public universities:

    UCB: 20-23
    UCLA: 23-29
    UCSB: 34-49
    UCI: 36-53
    UCSD: 37-53
    My guess is that these UC campuses, as well as UCD, will slide downward from their current positions towards the lower-ranked parts of these ranges. Their selectivity ranks will drop, due to the ongoing UC enrollment growth initiative, which led to higher acceptance rates and lower test scores for Fall 2016. USC, which recently rose past UCLA, could match Berkeley for the first time, or even surpass it.

    Or I could be wrong. We'll know soon enough.
  • suzyQ7suzyQ7 Registered User Posts: 2,985 Senior Member
    edited September 7
    "As an academic family, one of our priorities was quality of the teaching faculty and that includes the quality of their Ph.D. training."

    @Midwestmomofboys But does the quality of their academic training mean that the professor will be an effective teacher? I know - and have had - several professors who were experts in their field of study, but were not great at teaching material and not great communicators to a large group of undergraduate students in a lecture hall. Especially these days - with all the distractions of electronics - professors need to be engaging to be effective. They need to care about students and pedagogy. Many high research professors are obsessed with their research and their research is really their focus - teaching is something they have to do in order to do it. Unfortunately, that is very hard to measure and quantify during the college process or on these silly ranking lists.
  • MidwestmomofboysMidwestmomofboys Registered User Posts: 2,852 Senior Member
    @suzyq7 Agreed, it is difficult to assess, unless anecdotally, and that won't help high school families make decisions.

    But to my professor spouse, if someone didn't get trained by the best (or at least better) minds in the field, then they aren't prepared to think and, therefore, be in a position to teach at the highest (or at least higher) level, to undergrads. So training matters. It does not mean those professors are the best at communicating, mentoring, leading etc, but it does mean they are prepared to engage with their discipline at the highest/higher level. We are not a STEM family, so the phenomenon of faculty who only do their lab, and do not teach undergrads at all, is not a fear, since my kids are just trying to get through their distribution requirements in Math and Science.

    As I noted, every family should assess their priorities, and faculty expertise is one of ours. I get frustrated that acceptance rate is considered a significant metric precisely because it encourages the Chicago etc. phenomenon of jacking up numbers to reduce the acceptance rate. Chicago was a superb school twenty years ago when the acceptance rate was much higher, and it is still a superb school now when the acceptance rate is much lower. The false message to some who don't dig beneath the simple rankings, is that Chicago is "better" now because more students apply.

    But I am delighted to hear that Santa Barbara is such a wonderful place. The tight job market in academics has meant that talented faculty are everywhere, not just at a handful of "elite," mostly private schools. Combine that faculty strength with a thoughtful administration which is strategic about the structure and process of the student experience, and a student will be brilliantly served by their undergraduate institution.
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