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University drops to 29th in U.S. News and World Report rankings

By Tui Rademaker, Daily Staff Reporter
Published September 12, 2012

U.S. News and World Report’s popular college rankings were released Wednesday, with the University of Michigan placed at 29th, down one spot from 28th last year.

Still, the University has kept its place as fourth among public universities for the fifth consecutive year. The University of California, Berkeley tops the list of public universities, with University of California, Los Angeles and University of Virginia trailing as second and third.

University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said the place drop from 28th to 29th is nothing to be concerned about, and should be seen as another school moving up in the rankings as opposed to the University moving down.

“We’re still the number four public university in the U.S. News and World Report — it’s where we’ve been … we move up and down occasionally one or two numbers from year to year. It really doesn’t mean much,” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald said he believes that while rankings can be interesting to examine, they are limited in their ability to capture the full profile of a university. He added that it’s often more advantageous for students to focus on the strength of a particular program they are interested in, rather than the overall rankings of a university.

“It’s always good to see where you sit in comparison to other schools, but we really don’t think that … it’s the best measure of quality of an institution,” Fitzgerald said. “We think, for example, in our position, that the quality of the faculty (is a) better indicator of the quality.”

The Ross School of Business is tied at number three for undergraduate business school with UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, and the University Law School is ranked 10th nationally, down from seventh last year.

According to its website, U.S. News and World Report uses a widely accepted ranking method in which it considers up to 16 factors it believes to accurately measure academic excellence, including graduation rates, retention rates and quality of teaching faculty.

While schools inevitably strive for high rankings, there is varying opinion among students as to whether the U.S. News and World Report rankings are helpful.

For Kinesiology junior Michael Freedman, numbers did not play a large role in his application decision. Freedman said he believes that putting too much focus on rankings can be misleading given that high-ranked schools might not offer a particular major or social life.

Freedman added that he is satisfied with the University’s current ranking because he feels the school does an effective job of offering students a diverse experience, from quality academics to athletics.

However, for LSA freshman Christopher Bransburg the rankings offered helpful insight to his potential college choices.

“I think (the rankings are) a relatively significant portion of college admissions because it gives you the opportunity to look ahead and maybe see what is the potential that the school has and what exactly does it lack,” Bransburg said.

Despite the drop, Bransburg said he feels this year’s rankings portray the high caliber of education the University offers.

“Would I like it to be better? Yes,” Bransburg said. “Would I like to say that I came from a school that was ranked number three or number one? Yes. But 29th out of the nation, I think that’s really good.”