U.S. News & World Report College Rankings Role in the College Recruitment and Selection Process: Ten Observations

  1. Why do U.S. News Best Colleges annual rankings matter? Last year, their Best Colleges website had over 200 million page views and about 30 million unique visitors. U. S. News College Rankings role in selection process is very relevant.
  1. Why have they sustained their popularity over these many years? Students, and their parents, trust them as a third-party resource for comparative information and data when considering their options while rummaging through piles and files of promotional information from the many schools competing for their enrollment.
  1. Who else pays attention to rankings? Boards of Trustees, who recognize the importance of public perception. College rankings impact selection decisions.
  1. Why should colleges pay attention to these rankings? See items 1 through 3 above. U. S. News College Rankings role in selection process is meaningful to institutions, parents of prospective students and prospective students.
  1. Is there a reason for many colleges underperforming on U.S. News annual rankings? Yes. Typically, assign the responsibility for handling the rankings to one office, Institutional Research. Albeit a capable and logical choice, but too much to ask from any office with myriad responsibilities and, often, limited time and resources. This is where we can help you improve your approach.
  1. How? The goal of our rankings consultant is to work with you in real time establish his proven structured approach in real time, so that you apply it on your own in the future. College rankings impact selection.
  1. Results? Consulting Director for College Ranking, Dr. Gary Lewicki, as an Assistant Vice President for Enrollment, Planning and Management at a major research university in the northeast, worked closely with its Office of Institutional Research and a committee of their Provost’s Office as  they established and moved their rankings from the Top 40 to the Top 20 among public universities.
  1. More Results? As focusEDU’s rankings consultant, Dr. Lewicki’s three most recent college partners all substantially improved their rankings. Two of the regional universities improved from a rank in the 20’s up into the Top 10. A Midwestern public national university system, saw two of its institutions make double digit climbs in their rankings in one year.
  1. Learn more about what focusEDU can offer your institution. Contact Gary Lewicki at glewicki@focusEDUnow.com or call him at 860-214-3740. He would be happy to discuss various options with you.
  1. In these challenging times, can we address this issue, adequately? We would be remiss not to wish all of you well in confronting the current health crisis. If you feel that you still would like to address your rankings, we would be happy to work with you remotely, as our engagements are to a great extent done in this manner. Another important factor to consider is how U.S. News & World Report will adjust their methodology this year as a result of the impact of the pandemic. All the best to you in achieving your goals in these difficult times.

About the Author:

After serving as an Assistant Vice-President for Enrollment Planning and Management at the University of Connecticut (UConn) for the past two decades, focusing primarily on retention and graduation issues, Gary retired in June 2017.

He began his career advising undecided majors at UConn, where he earned his Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration. He then moved on to conduct research and interact with the state legislature and governor’s office on behalf of the Connecticut Department of Higher Education for a decade before returning to UConn in 1996.

Since joining focusEDU as a Consulting Director in 2017, Gary has been actively assisting the leaders of the higher education community by ensuring understanding and optimization of all elements associated with U.S. News rankings data submissions.

Gary has presented at numerous conferences sponsored by AACRAO, the College Board, and the Consortium for Student Retention Data Exchange. The Educational Policy Institute awarded UConn the Outstanding Retention Program Award at its RETENTION 2006 national conference. In 2010-11, Gary was awarded Freshman Year Experience Instructor of the Year honors.

Gary resides in Avon, CT and is very proud of his son, who will soon receive his Ph.D. in Mathematics from Cambridge University.

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