By Sally Linder
The latest U.S. News and World Report rankings broke today, and once again, Ohio University is rated a top national university. It also ranked third nationally for an important measure of student success: graduation rate performance. And in a new category, high-school counselor rankings, Ohio University is in the top 100.
"It's gratifying to see that the rankings again recognize Ohio University is among the nation's best," President Roderick J. McDavis said. "And I am particularly pleased to see that counselors at the nation's best high schools ranked us so high and that we remain strong on predicted-versus-actual graduation rate. It tells us that we are better at helping our students fulfill their potential than are most colleges in the nation. That speaks volumes about our faculty and students."
According to graduation performance measure, which is determined by using a data model, Ohio University's actual graduation rate is 18 percent higher than statistical predictions, placing third for graduation rate performance among national universities.
"It gives a glimpse into why, for instance, 96 percent of our recent graduates are employed or continuing their educations, and why we continue to rank among the nation's elite for the number of nationally competitive awards our students receive," McDavis said. "Ohio University is known for helping students maximize their promise."
For the first time this year, U.S. News asked counselors from high schools it rated as "America's Best" to evaluate the 262 national universities for their quality of education. Ohio University ranked 89th.
Overall, Ohio University placed 57th among the ranked public national universities and 116th in the full national university list. It continues to be one of Ohio's top three public universities.
A national university, for purposes of the U.S. News rankings, is a doctoral-degree-granting institution with broad undergraduate offerings. U.S. News also rates liberal-arts, master's-level and baccalaureate-only institutions. Data used in this year's rankings are from 2007 and earlier.
The value and accuracy of rankings have been the subject of debate over the last few years, with some institutions declining to acknowledge them. McDavis believes families know they are just one tool among many that can aid in their decision-making process.
"The factors that go into deciding what school is right are as unique and complex as each prospective student," he said.
One thing to consider is a university's mission.
For instance, Ohio University has a focus on providing strong undergraduate education and excellence in select graduate and research areas. It also presents students with broad opportunities for putting education into action in the field and participating in research.
"There are other things that distinguish Ohio University. We encourage student-faculty interaction and thus keep classroom student-to-faculty ratios smaller than many universities. We're a residential campus with a focus on first-year learning communities designed specifically for student success. And of course, we are a classic, beautiful campus set in a true college town," McDavis said, adding that even these characteristics give only a glimpse into the Ohio University experience.
McDavis also believes that the university's strength comes from striking the right balance.
"We remain a very competitive institution that serves promising students from all over Ohio and beyond," he said. "That is important to us and to our state."
The mission and promise of Ohio University are clearly resonating with prospective students and their families. The Office of Undergraduate Admissions has received a record number of applications for the upcoming school year, and preliminary numbers indicate an increase in the academic quality of the incoming class.