Provost and Executive Vice President Ralph Wilcox sent out a letter to students Sept. 9 sharing that USF has reached the top 50 in the 2020 U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of the top public universities in the nation.
But what exactly does this mean?
Wilcox said in his email that students will receive “more merit-based financial aid and national scholarship recipients, a higher probability of admission to the nation’s top graduate, medical and law schools, a broader array of career options and higher salaries” as USF moves higher on the nation’s radar.
U.S. News and World Report said on its website that ranking colleges helps students make informed decisions about where they want to go and what they can expect from their degrees.
Based on comparative data, this is how U.S. News calculates its methodology:
U.S News and World Report uses a system that is based on 10 categories and 15 indicators of “academic quality” to determine the overall ranking of a college or university.
To make sure the ranking is accurate, the schools are divided under the basis of national universities, national liberal arts colleges, regional universities and regional colleges. These divisions allow universities and colleges with like-minded goals to be compared fairly.
USF ranked No. 104 under national universities. However, out of the 146 nation’s best public schools, USF ranked No. 44, which is 14 spots higher than last year.
To make it easier for readers, the scores were converted on a scale from zero to 100. USF’s overall score was rated at 51.
According to U.S News and World Report News, the strategy used is based on the “Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education’s Basic Classification system.” Nonacademic elements such as the university’s social life and athletics are not taken into account.
Out of a scale of 100 percent, the following categories are reviewed: outcomes (35 percent), faculty resources (20 percent), financial resources (10 percent), expert opinion (20 percent), student excellence (10 percent) and alumni giving (5 percent).
The outcomes category reviews the university’s graduation and retention rates, graduation rate performances and Pell Grant graduation rates.
USF ranked the highest in Florida this year, No. 11, for social mobility, which reviews retention and graduation rates for Pell Grant recipients. USF also beat out other Florida schools by ranking No. 60 for “best value schools.”
Faculty salary, average class size and student-faculty ratio are some of the areas reviewed under the faculty resources category. USF’s records state that the average class size is about 33 students and the student-faculty ratio is 21:1.
The rating from the president, provosts and deans of admissions from each university is taken into account for the expert opinion category. The university leaders rate the academic quality of peer institutions on a scale of 1 through 5.
Not only are performance-based standards taken into account in college, but for high school as well. The ratings also study students’ high school class standing and standardized testing. According to Wilcox, USF has an average ACT score of 29 and an average SAT score of 1285.
The information computed is sent by each university and college every year. To make sure the information submitted by each school is fair, the top academic official signs off on the accuracy of the data.
Wilcox said the university is now aiming to be in the top 25 of U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges and is working to make USF “better and not bigger.”
“We will continue our focus on rapidly improving quality in student success, excelling in research, scholarship, and creative impact and enhancing USF’s national and global reputation,” Wilcox said.