Syracuse University rises in best college rankings


After climbing four spots, Syracuse University is now tied for No. 58 on the 2013 U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges list.

The jump from last year’s No. 62 ranking ties SU with Fordham University, Southern Methodist University, the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Maryland College Park for the No. 58 spot. The State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry also saw a jump in its rating, going from No. 82 to No. 77.

SU’s No. 58 ranking is a welcome sign of improvement after SU fell seven spots in 2012, from No. 55 to No. 62.

While SU recognizes the role rankings play in the college selection process, they do not always accurately portray all a college has to offer, Kevin Quinn, senior vice president for public affairs, said in an email.

“Of course we want to be ranked as high as possible,” he said. “But rankings also often fluctuate for colleges and universities each year and don’t capture the full character, value, and strategic direction of an institution.”

Hayley Eisenhardt, a sophomore elementary and special education major, said she is happy with the ranking. Her high school-aged sister has started looking at colleges and she said rankings matter to students.

“You want to go to the best school you can get into. That’s everyone’s goal,” she said. “This will definitely give Syracuse a lot of positive attention.”

SU is also ranked No. 47 for best-value colleges, and its undergraduate business program for entrepreneurship came in at No. 8. For graduate programs, the university ranks No. 1 in public affairs and No. 3 in library and information studies.

The student-to-faculty ratio remained unchanged at 16:1, but the number of classes with less than 20 students dropped slightly from 61.4 percent in 2012 to 61.2 percent in 2013.

Katrina Sotiropoulos, a sophomore undeclared major in the College of Arts and Sciences, said SU has a lot to offer and she’s glad the university has moved up in the rankings.

“Out of hundreds of schools, being in the top 60 is amazing,” she said. “That says something about the university, the students and the professors.”

Regardless of SU’s ranking, SU Chancellor Nancy Cantor has been critical of the U.S. News & World Report’s ranking system in the past.

In a letter to the editor in The Daily Orange on Sept. 12, 2011, Cantor said the rankings hinder the efforts of SU and other colleges to maximize opportunities for all students.

“We at SU do not believe that they represent the best and brightest hope for higher education’s role in forging a better future,” she said in the editorial.

In a Sept. 6 Huffington Post blog post, Cantor said she believes higher education is in the middle of an existential crisis and must redefine success. Universities must balance cost with the need to serve the public, she said.

“Highly selective four-year privates and publics will increasingly reject ever more applicants while superbly ‘educating’ those who are already most prepared, not coincidentally consolidating a hold on U.S. News rankings,” Cantor said in the blog post.

Instead, Cantor said universities should look to educate many different groups of students rather than just the smartest students.

It is this philosophy, Quinn said, that influences how SU thinks about ratings.

Said Quinn: “In Syracuse’s case, the University has historically been proud to define its educational mission more broadly and inclusively than reflected in the limited set of metrics rankings.”



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