U of C Ranked #5 in 2012 US News Rankings

<p><a href="http://premium.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-universities%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://premium.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-universities&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>Some thoughts:</p>

<p>As an alum, I'm pleased with U of C's newest ranking, and, as I often say, this is a significant step up from the much more laissez-faire Chicago of the mid-1990s and early 2000s. U of C did very well in this year's rankings, but the rank also seems to be an indication that the administration is taking these rankings seriously and making sure all of the numbers get in line (acceptance rate, graduation rate, etc.). </p>

<p>As often happens in the world of higher ed, more begets more. I'd imagine the strong ranking will boost applications a bit this year.</p>

<p>Overall, I am pleased with this. While the standard disclaimers for rankings apply (i.e. they must be taken with a generous helping of salt, there are problems in the methodologies utilized, etc.), I think it's better for Chicago to be ranked higher rather than lower in the US News rankings, and such a ranking can only have a positive effect for the school. If for nothing else, the grumbles relating to the school (e.g. being somewhat under-appreciated in the elite school world, etc.) can subside a bit, and this is a nice little nod to Chicago's strength heading into the school year.</p>

<p>If for nothing else, Chicago has long been an academic powerhouse, and these rankings seem to reflect that. Chicago students (especially in my day) often complained that the U of C was somewhat under-valued in rankings. Well, with the College now at #5, law school at #5, business school at #5, etc. that argument seems to be losing its effectiveness. </p>

<p>I guess, to sum up, Go Chicago!</p>

<p>Other thoughts?</p>

<p>As a prospective international applicant all I can say is that U of C is now going to get a lot of applications. </p>

<p>See in Bangladesh(thats where I come from) people takes these rankings seriously and often times apply to Top 5 schools believing they have a shot and biggest mistake would be to not apply. While in South Asia most people recognize Harvard and MIT as the premium universities of US ( Yes when a senior friend of mine got into Vanderbilt he had trouble explaining to his relatives that its a very good university) this new ranking will "quantify" Chicago's reputation as an academic powerhouse and attract a higher number of applicants thus lowering selectivity. And since many people seem to associate selectivity with exclusivity they will be attracted to U of C even -and then application number would increase, so the cycle would continue.</p>

<p>But I feel U of C deserves this ranking. It has the best academics and superb grad schools and a great intellectual student body.</p>

<p>I've said it once and I'll say it again: I think we owe an enormous thanks to President Zimmer. Of course, it was Zimmer who brought in Nondorf as the head of admissions, but I think Zimmer's primary accomplishment lies in his shifting of the University's priorities. He's someone who understands that reputation and popularity are just as important to an institution's health (financial and otherwise) as is pure research.</p>

<p>Zimmer joined the University in 2006. At the time, the University was ranked 15th. Yes, this was just 5 years ago. We have jumped 10 spots in 5 years if you can believe it, and our acceptance rate has plummeted from 40% to 15% in that timespan.</p>

<p>Enough about past accomplishments, though. We still have a far way to go if we're going to actually be a university that can be considered to be of the HYPSM class. Getting into the top 5 is certainly good news, but remember that Duke used to be ranked in the top 5 as well, and was never really perceived as a top 5 (and maybe not even as a top 10) institution. </p>

<p>We still have quite a bit to work toward. First and foremost, I think, is prestige. Chicago needs to keep up its marketing, and maybe even expand it a little bit. College marketing is good, but we should have better marketing for our Business and Law schools as well, to reach a higher variety of people. I mean, the Gleacher Center is in a prime position for marketing to anyone who visits the city of Chicago, right on Michigan Avenue and Wacker (easily seen as you walk across the Chicago River), yet the building is completely bland and inconspicuous. This little change could impact quite a lot of people's views toward the institution, esp. since relatively few people in Chicago even know of the institution.</p>

<p>A very important point to consider is acceptance rate. From a business standpoint, it is still too high. We need to lower it below 10% over the next 3 years, which I think is completely feasible. We also need to raise our yield. I don't know what our yield was this year (yet to be announced, I believe), but it was 39% the year before. This is simply too low if we want to maintain any credibility as an elite institution. Pulling only 5% of cross-admits with Harvard is not going to cut it. The new rankings will help, of course.</p>

<p>Lastly, I think it's important to maintain the #5 ranking and look at moving up to #4, ahead of Columbia. We still have quite a ways to move up, actually. We have all the things that are very difficult to attain in place (professor salaries, SATs, etc.), yet lack things that will move the rankings that are easily attained (% in top 10% of high school class, 6-year graduation rates, counselor rankings, etc.). If we get just 95% of kids at Chicago to graduate from the top 10% of their class (still below MIT, Caltech, etc.) in place of our current 89%, we'll statistically move into a tie with Columbia. These things are easily manipulable, so why not?</p>

<p>Anyway, these are my recommendations for the university moving forward. They're all ambitious of course, taking 5 or so years to accomplish, but it's a good blueprint for success, I think. As long as Zimmer maintains his level of enthusiasm and intellect, I think we're on the right path.</p>

<p>Also, I look forward to this being a (symbolic and actual) end to the inferiority complex of Chicago students. There was a sense of inferiority and denial at Chicago when I entered the university in 2007, due to the 35% acceptance rate and low ranking. By the time I graduated, most of that was gone but some still remained. Hopefully, this will mark the end of that. Confidence is often congruent to success.</p>

<p>In fairness, there's really not much difference between this year's ranking and the ranking in any of the past few years, except that USNWR has elected to declare a 5-way tie for 5th place among colleges that occupied spots in the top 9 last year. Chicago is in there with Caltech, MIT, Penn, and Stanford. Of course, it's perfectly appropriate to view all of those colleges as essentially on the same level, and its great that Chicago is getting the recognition. But only convention keeps it from being described at a tie for 7th place or 9th place rather than 5th place.</p>

<p>JHS: So there's no difference in being bunched with Stanford, MIT, and Caltech than with being paired with Dartmouth and Duke? Also, last year Chicago was displayed as the 11th college thanks to alphabetical-izing ties (yes, on the 2nd page) and this year it's displayed as 8th. I would say that the psychological effect of these minor changes is actually rather strong (and also serves as the reason why Chicago needs to keep pushing forward).</p>

<p>Phiriku, JHS is right, and so are you. In a world that runs on reason, the shufflings within, and to some extent between the 3 strata in the top 10 or even 12 should be inconsequential -- dancing angels and pinheads (double entendre intended) -- but don't mistake us humans for rational creatures (myself included). In a world that runs the way it does, being elevated from the third to the second stratum is huge, as is the fact that it puts Chicago on the first page of the list (who goes to p. 2 on a Google result?), which should have been the case last year except for an alphabetical accident (votes for renaming to Aardvark U?). In any case, and in both cases, the Phoenix is rising.</p>

<p>I sympathize with JHS because personally, the five-way tie really annoyed me when I first saw it. In fact, it was my first reaction upon seeing the new rankings. I think it is fantastic that Chicago is finally been admitted to the second-highest tier just below the "HYP" triple crown that US News dares not alter. At the same time, a five-way tie seems rather rigged; psychologically speaking, it feels like a mother consoling two fighting children that they are both "equally as good" to pacify both. </p>

<p>Of course I have no evidence to believe this, but I can't help but get the completely irrational impression that the five-way tie was US News' way of pacifying all 5 schools. Chicago was moved up to the level of Stanford, MIT, etc., but US News made no statement on the quality of these schools relative to one another. Of course, in reality this is probably what it should do, but that's not what it usually does - has there ever been a five way tie before? All in all, the five-way tie dampens the euphoria of the increase for me; it makes it seem like a rigged attempt at pacification and not something to be taken at all credibly. </p>

<p>Of course, the very thought of Chicago even being "on par" with these four other amazing schools is a significant achievement. I just think four was perhap too many.</p>

<p>phuriku: I am deeply ambivalent about the USNWR rankings. On the one hand, unlike lots of other people, I think it's a legitimate exercise, and that they do a decent job of being transparent and neutral about how they develop the rankings. On the other, I think they still suck -- any ranking that keeps Berkeley and Michigan out of the top 20 fails my smell test -- and that they fail to capture really important intangibles while overvaluing things that can be measured easily (like admissions rate). And of course I think people attribute way too much importance to small differences in the rankings. So while I'm happy that Chicago gets to say "We are #5!" and shows up on the first page (as it has pretty much since 2007, last year notwithstanding), I'm not going to accord it more meaning than I think it deserves. And that isn't much.</p>

<p>Which is not to say that I don't agree with you about Zimmer, Nondorf (who is a great guy, although I'm not certain I love everything he is doing), and keeping pushing forward. I just think they should be keeping pushing forward to improve the academic and social undergraduate experience at Chicago, not to improve the USNWR ranking or to get the admissions rate down to single digits.</p>

<p>(By the way, you should recognize that Zimmer returned to Chicago in 2006, having spent 25 years there before his four years as provost at Brown. Also that the lion's share of the credit for the renaissance of Chicago's college should go to its long-term dean, John Boyer, whose continuing tenure through four very different presidencies attests to how universal the respect he attracts is.)</p>

<p>I think it's quite exciting. </p>

<p>UChicago</a> College Admissions, A Day of Fives Waaah! We are now ranked #5 in the...</p>

<p>It's in poor taste to brag about this usually so I'll just come on here and say it: "Woohoo my child is on the Dean's List of a top 5 University!!!"</p>

<p>First reaction to this was, honestly: this has got to be a joke.</p>

<p>Maybe I'm missing something, but I never considered U of C up there (at all). If I am, then please explain to me why its on the same level as MIT, Caltech, STANFORD!, and Upenn. Am I the only one that thinks this is kind of absurd? Perhaps USNWR gives a lot of weight to research or something?</p>

<p>@empirical: You are the only one that thinks this is absurd. </p>

<p>Where do YOU think UChicago should be put?</p>

<p>
[quote]
First reaction to this was, honestly: this has got to be a joke.</p>

<p>Maybe I'm missing something, but I never considered UPenn up there (at all). If I am, then please explain to me why its on the same level as MIT, Caltech, STANFORD!, and UChicago. Am I the only one that thinks this is kind of absurd? Perhaps USNWR gives a lot of weight to pre-professionalism or something?

[/quote]
</p>

<p>That would have been a perfectly plausible comment just a few years ago, or even today. Schools and reputations can change in a flash, it's hardly absurd that marketing matters (and is effective).</p>

<p>JHS: Although I see what you're saying, it's my personal opinion that Chicago is already a great academic institution commensurate with Harvard, et al., and that it doesn't need to improve much further academically. There are changes to be made, of course, but I think that Chicago's failures in marketing are significantly greater than its failures in academic endeavors.</p>

<p>Like most educated people, I don't consider US News to be accurate at all. It's a popularity contest, but an important one: it influences people's opinion of the institution. And yes, it even influences the opinions of very educated people. I could be very cruel and use yourself as an example. You are always advocating for the superiority of HYPSM over Chicago, despite the fact that Chicago is just as successful on the academic scale. I would venture to say that you yourself have been impacted by the rankings that perpetually rank HYP as the greatest institutions in the country, even if Chicago has practically the same SATs and practically the same level of academic success among its students.</p>

<p>physiocrat: I get the same impression, actually. Not just with respect to Chicago, though; with respect to Caltech and MIT as well. If you look at the data that US News uses to determine rank, there's simply no way that Caltech doesn't fall off from its tie with MIT. Its professor pay and SATs both decreased significantly, for instance, while MIT's increased. If anything, even Chicago should have been ranked above Caltech this year, if we are to believe in the statistical nature of US News rankings. But US News wouldn't dare separate MIT from Caltech, so Caltech is #5 right alongside MIT. This was definitely at least a partial appeasement by the US News staff.</p>

<p>Also, empirical's words are precisely the reason why this is so important. Chicago has much higher SATs than Stanford, yet it's never considered on par with Stanford, and now even with Penn. Yet Penn is seen as naturally within this group, though this would not have been the case a few years ago. Penn's status as a consecutively-ranked top-6 ranked US News institution has given its reputation a huge boost, deserved or not. That's precisely what Chicago needs to do.</p>

<p>I personally thought that the previous ranking (tied at #9) with Duke and Dartmouth was pretty generous in itself. I'd put uchicago pretty much on par with northwestern (and no I'm not a northwestern student lol) just in terms of reputation. Admittedly, I do not know that much about UofC academics; all i really know is that it has a strong econ program and has graduated many nobel laureates.</p>

<p>My statement was based purely off of (my view) of school reputations. Also, the "University of" beginning to the school name may have created a psychological effect in my brain that makes it sound less like an elite school (and more like a state school). Either ways, I'm sure UofC is a great academic institution. It's just that, in my view, and in the view of many others, its reputation just isn't on par with the likes of MIT, Stanford, etc. (Yet)</p>

<p>empirical: You should travel abroad and see how prestigious UChicago really is. The UChicago brand is actually more prestigious in other countries (especially those in Asia) than in the United States. Whenever I mention 'UChicago' to people in a country abroad (not going to be more specific than that), they immediately recognize it as a "top 10" school (worldwide), so I can't really relate to your perspective.</p>

<p>It's fairly obvious you don't know anything about the University, which shows you shouldn't be making the judgment, Empirical.</p>

<p>I'd bet a lot of folks agree with Empirical's basic point. Even those who do know something.</p>

<p>Those who do know the University don't have to go on just the value of the name brand.</p>

<p>Gekkoman, Empirical, etc. - this is a reason why it's important for the U of C to be ranked highly. Keep in mind, it wasn't terribly long ago (i.e. late 1990s) when Penn was ranked in the teens, and no one really believed it was on the level of a Stanford, MIT, etc. After about a decade in the top ~7, Penn has entrenched its place in the group with Stanford, MIT, etc. </p>

<p>If Chicago can continue a strong run for another 5-6 years and stay in the top 7 or so, just like Penn, the lay public will cease questioning whether Chicago belongs there or not, and the school's reputation will be elevated. </p>

<p>I remember when Penn was first tied with a school like Stanford back in the early 2000s or so, and people were UP IN ARMS about it - expressing their incredulity that a lowly school like Penn could even be mentioned in the same breath as Stanford. Now, a tie between Stanford and Penn is a pretty ho-hum occurrence. </p>

<p>The rankings can influence perception, and if Chicago remains on pace with this new set of US News peers (MIT, Stanford, etc.), after a few years, the questioning of Chicago's stature will cease. Gekko, Empirical, etc. - do you guys questions Penn's placement alongside Stanford? Maybe in the late 90s you might, but now it's a consistent occurrence. If Chicago keeps it up, by 2015 or 2016, Chicago being alongside Stanford in the rankings will probably not merit any discussion.</p>

<p>(For my money, in the past 10-15 years, Penn and Chicago have been the two schools on the most pronounced upward trajectory - both schools have seen a significant boost in their rank, significant decline in their acceptance rate, etc.)</p>