UCR shows downward trend in U.S. News national college rankings

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U.S. News and World Report’s 2016 Best Colleges Guide was released earlier this month, with UCR placing 121st on the list.

In 2010, UCR held a spot in the top 100 schools in the nation at 94. Despite a discouraging 27-place fall in ranking since then, UCR’s Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox is not alarmed. Wilcox believes that public schools should not focus on the wealth and prestige of their institutions, but on the livelihood of their students.

“I understand the challenges of getting an education and I, more importantly, understand the value of getting an education. And that’s really what UCR is about in so many ways,” quoted Wilcox in August 2013. “So here we are, working with some of the best scholars in the world, and at the same time, assuring that students of all backgrounds have the ability to come take advantage of those opportunities.”

When assigning a rank to each college, U.S. News factors in a number of measures to come to a standardized score. These broad categories include the undergraduate academic reputation — which is determined by peer assessments — first-year student retention, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, graduation rate performance and alumni giving rate.

Although this set of rankings is arguably the most widely recognized set of standards for colleges in the U.S., Wilcox has deemed this method of judgment as problematic, stating that UCR’s reputation of being accessible, fostering diversity and encouraging success amongst all students — not just privileged ones, are not taken into account under the current system. The University of California Regents later commended the chancellor for his statements in support of UCR’s mission at the most recent regents meeting on Sept. 15.

As a diverse Southern California university, UCR serves around 22,000 students and is considered to be one of the nation’s leaders in educating Latino students. The campus student body is approximately 36 percent Hispanic, 36 percent Asian, 5 percent African-American, 14 percent non-Hispanic white and the rest consisting of biracial students and foreigners.

“UCR does a lot of good for the community and it constantly accepts students that are first-generation college students and it is a minority-serving institution,” explains third-year economics/law and society major Ani Dhruva.“I don’t think rankings should determine how people view colleges. I think that you should look at how good it does as a whole, and for the community it’s in. Also, how individual programs rank.”

A new classification system has been created by the National Public Radio (NPR) and supports Wilcox’s stance on how colleges should be rated. Using this ranking system, UCR has placed 15 in the nation. Criterion that are considered under this ranking system include the share of students who are eligible to receive pell grants, the net cost of attendance for families that earn less than $48,000, the percentage of students who are first-generation college students, the default rate of federal student loans, the rate of on-time graduation and the average income made 10 years post-graduation.

According to the “U.S. News’” top public university rankings, a list consisting of only 119 schools, UCR is tied for 58th with the University of Arizona.

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