Northeastern ranked second “Up-and-Coming” university

Northeastern ranked second “Up-and-Coming” university
JPM32/Wikimedia Commons

by Sarah Moomaw, News Staff

by Sarah Moomaw, News Staff

Northeastern placed second on the 2011 US News and World Report Best Colleges: Up-and-Coming National Universities, sharing the spot with Drexel University in Philadelphia, which also has a co-op program, and Arizona State University.

The University of Maryland at Baltimore County topped the list as the most up-and-coming. No other Boston schools made the top 20 up-and-coming list.

“It’s great for recruitment,” said Ryan Fox, student body president. “It provides greater awareness of what the university is and its prestige to future students, and provides a better value of degree to past students as well.”

This year, Northeastern was ranked 69th on US News Best Colleges: National Universities list, up 11 spots from last year. As with every year, US News changed its methodology in how it calculates the final composite score, which is used to rank the college but pinpointing an exact reason for a dramatic jump is hard to narrow down. This year’s methodology included an overhaul to the peer evaluation section.

Last year, 25 percent of the final composite score was built from surveys distributed to 4,273 presidents, provosts and deans of admission asking them to rank academic programs from 1 (marginal) to 5 (distinguished) based on excellence. These numbers were then averaged into a score for the category.
This year’s survey was sent out to 1,787 high school college counselors in addition to the 4,273 presidents, provosts and deans of admission (unchanged from last year).

The peer evaluation section’s weight on the final composite score was reduced to 22.5 percent of the composite score. The other 2.5 percent was transferred to the gradation rate performance category, increasing it to 7.5 percent, up from 5 percent of last year’s methodology.

This year Northeastern sits tied on the National Universities list with University of Connecticut and Virginia Tech with a composite score of 50.

In May, when this year’s surveys were released to the academics, the Washington Post reported that some college presidents were pulling out of the US News Best College’s List by not supplying them with statistical information or returning the peer evolutions because of concerns related to the methodology being used to build composite scores.

The boycott was originally drafted in May 2007 by 12 college presidents who felt the rankings were misleading. They drafted a letter and sent it out to presidents across the country in hopes of gaining additional signatures, though President Joseph Aoun did not sign.

The 12 college presidents have teamed up with Education Conservancy (EC), a non-profit organization helping to enhance the college admission process for all involved. The EC stood behind the letter which asked additional presidents to join them in a boycott of the US News and World Report’s Best College List.
In an open letter, the coalition called the US News survey misleading, claiming key facts like if the students were learning are overlooked.

Since 2007, another 55 university presidents have pledged to refuse filling out reputation surveys from US News or using them in promotional materials, including the University of New Hampshire and Wesleyan College.

While Aoun hasn’t signed the letter, he expressed his disapproval in the ratings when he sat down with The News for his annual review in the spring.

“In a complex university like ours, which has undergrad, graduate, and research [programs], you cannot reduce the complexity of this university to one formula,” he said. “The US News’ rankings, they don’t capture university as a whole… They capture an aspect of the university, but not the whole aspect. And sometimes they distort the reality of the university even when they are well–meaning.”

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