SMU’s academic ranking rises
Published: Sunday, September 23, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 17:11
U.S. News and World Report’s Rankings of Best Colleges released its latest ranking of the nation’s top universities on Sept. 12. Southern Methodist University has moved four spots higher on the list.
Out of 280 institutions on the list, SMU is now ranked No. 58.
“It’s obviously good news that SMU continues to move up in these rankings, because prospective students and their parents do pay attention to them. As the father of a college-bound high school senior, I can attest to that,” journalism professor Mark Vamos said.
Only two other Texas schools ranked higher than SMU — Rice University and the University of Texas at Austin. However, SMU is ranked higher than its biggest rival Texas Christian University, which is No. 92.
“Honestly, I am not surprised SMU moved up in rank from last year. It is raising its standards for acceptances and, in turn, raising its standards in the classroom,” junior Chelsea Harrison said. “It truly is producing more knowledgeable students.”
U.S. News and World Report considered various factors for determining the rankings including peer assessment scores, high school counselors’ ratings, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources and alumni support.
But Vamos cautions that rankings don’t indicate everything about the quality of a university.
“It is, and should be, only a small factor in the college selection process,” he said.
Location, campus life, extra-curricular activities, sports, range of available academic classes, cost and availability of financial aid should also be considered.
“A ranking can aggregate all the information it collects to give prospective students an idea of how a college compares to other colleges and can hint to choosing the right university when combined with a campus visit,” junior John Liedtke said.
U.S. News relies on two pillars for its ranking system. The formula applies quantitative measures as reliable indicators of academic quality and research on what U.S. News’ believes is important in education.
First, the U.S. News categorizes schools by their mission, classifying higher education institutions by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’s 2010 Basic Classification method.
Second, U.S. News gathers data from each college that reflects academic excellence.
Each of the 16 factors is given a weight that reflects U.S. News’ opinion on the factors importance. The final rankings are based on each college or universities combined, weighted score.
“I think if SMU keeps focusing on academics it will better its ranking to a certain extent. The true boost will come from the school’s support of its students in a well-rounded lifestyle, including sports and university extra curricular,” Harrison said.