Breaking the ranking

Robin Rogers doesn’t really care. Neither do Julio Blandon or Sean Williams.

At issue is USF’s tumble in a recent college ranking report by U.S. News & World Report — it fell nine spots to No. 189 — and whether it’s as bad as it looks remains to be seen.For some students, the answer is no.

“A lot of students have their own criteria as to how they judge schools,” said Samuel Flanigan, deputy director of data research at U.S. News & World Report.

Rogers is one of those students.

“I love USF; it’s treated me well since I’ve been here,” said Rogers, a junior majoring in French. “I’ve received a good education here.”

Not only did the drop land USF in the “fourth tier” group of universities, the University of Florida, University of Miami, Florida State, the Florida Institute of Technology and University of Central Florida all ranked above USF. Florida Atlantic and Florida International ranked below USF.

“We’re not shying away from the fact that there is room for improvement,” said USF Vice Provost Ralph Wilcox.

But the quality of freshmen students, according to Wilcox, is improving.

“This year we raised the standards of admission and average SAT scores have increased,” Wilcox said.

Averages, he said, have increased from 1108 to 1134.

The Tampa Tribune blasted USF in an Aug. 29 editorial that called USF’s fall in the rankings “embarrassing.”

Blamed for the plunge are students’ SAT scores, lack of alumni funding and low graduation rates. In light of this, Wilcox said the administration is working to implement a program to increase freshmen success.

“We want to make sure students are provided clearer guidance and get the courses that they need to graduate on time,” Wilcox said.

While USF may lack stature in some areas, it has excelled in others. In the Princeton Review’s The 361 Best Colleges: 2006 Edition, USF was number 18 in the list for the most diverse schools in the nation, and was considered one of the best universities in the Southeast.

The review also said USF was an “up-and-coming university that is ready to make its mark.” Only 15 percent of four-year colleges in the United States are included in the book.

Blandon, a graduate student, finds reason behind the rankings.

“USF has been here for 50 years. UF has been here since 1853,” Blandon said. “USF has done a good job in a short time. I’m impressed with USF.”

Williams shared a similar sentiment.

“I think in the next three or four years we’ll see USF start to jump back up,” the sophomore said. “I think right now USF is a teenager moving on to adulthood.”