College Rankings Georgetown Ranked No. 23 by U.S. News GU Ties with Carnegie Mellon University

By Arianne Aryanpur Hoya Staff Writer

For the third consecutive year Georgetown ranked 23rd in U.S. News & World Report’s America’s Best Colleges. The university tied with Carnegie Mellon University for the position.

This year marks the 15th year that Georgetown has been ranked as one of the top 25 universities in the nation. The university ranked No. 21 in 1997 and No. 23 in 1996.

“People looking at Georgetown would probably say `I’m surprised it’s not higher,'” Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Charles Deacon said.

According to Deacon, one of the reasons that Georgetown ranks lower than similar universities is because the report utilizes a certain set of criteria to compile its rankings. Financial criteria such as average endowment per student and faculty compensation are weighted heavily in the report.

“They try to be very diagnostic and analytical about how to do this but put a lot of weight on financial factors and reputation,” Deacon said. “The question is how do they garner that information and why?”

The annual ranking, which is one of the most respected and referred to surveys of its kind, takes into account such factors as freshman retention rate, faculty resources and reputation score as well.

The reputation score, which carries the most weight, is determined by asking the presidents, provosts, and deans of admissions at institutions to rate their peer schools’ academic programs on a scale from one to five.

While Georgetown received a comparatively low reputation score of 4.0, Deacon said this should not undermine the university’s academic value.

“Reputational surveys tend to favor the elite graduate programs,” he said. “Usually high level academic [rankings] come from the ranking of Ph.D. programs. So universities that aren’t heavily Ph.D. oriented, like Georgetown, may not show up as highly.”

“I’ve reccomended to the U.S. News people that they find 100 high school conselors and have them do the [reputation] ranking because they know a lot about universities since their students are applying to them,” Deacon said.

Another criterion used in the rankings was admissions selectivity. Georgetown ranked sixth among national universities in this category with an overall acceptance rate of 22 percent.

“One might ask why we are one of the most competitive [universities] and still rate 23rd,” Deacon said.

According to Vice President for Communications Julie Green Bataille, the report’s methodology and set of criteria are vague. In recent years, the report’s techniques have been scrutinized by university faculty and students across the nation.

Bataille suggested that other factors be considered to make the rankings more accurate. “Something that makes Georgetown unique is that it has a non-binding Early Action program,” she said.

Its distinctive location in the nation’s capital, and the cost-of-living that accompanies its location should be accounted for as well, she said.

“Graduation rate, class size, student to faculty contact, to the extent that you can measure those things, are important,” Deacon said.

He added, “A lot of the practices that have evolved over the past 10 years in college admissions are all in reaction to improve one’s position in this ranking, which is not the right reason to do things.”

While Deacon said he feels the rankings could be misleading, Georgetown’s increasing applicant pool indicates the public has not been affected. Last year the university received a record number of applicants.

“Our ranking hasn’t changed in U.S. News but apparently our perception among the population going to college has improved significantly,” Deacon pointed out. “Somehow or another, people are getting a message from some source other than the U.S. News ranking.”

Students at Georgetown seemed not to place much weight on the report.

“I didn’t pay much attention to the rankings when deciding to attend Georgetown,” Adrienne Ashford (COL ’04) said. “When choosing a school you should decide what’s important to you and research those aspects of the school via visits, conversations with faculty, students and graduates and plenty of reading.”

Dave Childs (SFS ’04) agreed.

“Though the rankings provide a good description of the academic quality of various schools, prospective students shouldn’t base their decisions on what the magazine considers are the `good’ schools.”

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.