University ranked in top 200 US colleges, based on student voices

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By Nayra Halajian

Recently, The Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education released its 2017 U.S. college rankings. The University of Puget Sound tied for the rank of 170th with Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania.

Times Higher Education (THE) is a weekly London based magazine that began in 1971. The magazine has build rapport with American and foreign students alike, and is often used to find information on institutions of higher education outside of a student’s home country.

“We have unparalleled expertise on the trends underpinning university performance globally,” states the THE website. ”Our data and benchmarking tools are used by many of the world’s most prestigious universities to help them achieve their strategic goals.”

Unlike most college rankings such as the World University Rankings, which focus on research performance, the Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education College Rankings judge colleges by four pillars that encompass “15 individual performance indicators combining to create an overall score that reflects the broad strength of the institution,” their website states.

The ranking is also driven by student voices, which separate this ranking system from others. “At its heart,” the website states, are the “100,000 current student voices” that contribute to the list each year.

According to the THE website, “the first pillar is resources, which takes into account finance and faculty per student, as well as research papers per faculty member.”

The next is outcomes, looking closely at academic reputation, graduation rate, and “the extent to which graduates earn more and repay more loan debt than would be expected given their socio-economic background.”

The third pillar is environment, which takes into account the proportion of international students and staff and student diversity.

The final pillar, engagement, uses a survey of 100,000 U.S. students to judge the quality of staff and student interaction.

According to their website, the Wall Street Journal/THE College Ranking “includes clear performance indicators designed to answer the questions that matter the mst to students and families when making one of the most important decisions of their lives – who to trust with their education …”

The ranking aims to answer questions like “Does the college have sufficient resources to team me properly? Will I be engaged, and challenged, by my teacher and classmates? Does the college have a good academic reputation? What type of campus community is there?” and, “How likely am I to graduate, pay off my loans and get a good job?”

The University of Puget Sound received 20.3 out of 30 (68 percent) in resources, 23.2 out of 40 (58 percent) in outcomes, 16 of 20 (80 percent) in engagement, and 2.7 out of 10 (27 percent) for environment. The University’s total point value summed to 62.2 out of 100 possible points.

Amongst universities in Washington State, Puget Sound overall ranked fourth, below the University of Washington, Howard University and Seattle University.

Specifically, in the resource category, Puget Sound ranked third among Washington State Colleges. This means that the University has a great capacity to effectively deliver teaching. This category looks closely at finance per student, faculty per student, and research papers per faculty.

Success in this category can be linked to Puget Sound’s 11:1 student-faculty ratio, a statistic boasted on the campus website.

“I’ve noticed professors are usually flexible with their office hours and easily accessible. From my experiences, they’re willing to help and listen to student concerns,” stated first-year student Polina Pekurovsky.

In regards to the second pillar, outcomes, the University also notes that it “consistently ranks among the top five in number of alumni serving in the Peace Corps,” according to the website, and that the University “recently was recognized by The Chronicle of Higher Education as one of the top 10 bachelor’s degree institutions in the United States with the highest number of Fulbright scholars.”

They are also “in the top five percent of college for students who go on to ear doctorate degrees,” and students have “high acceptance rates into prestigious medical and law schools,” according to a University fact sheet, located on the website.

However, in the environment category, Puget Sound ranked second to last in comparison to other Washington schools. This means that the University has a low proportion of international students, student diversity, student inclusion, and staff diversity than most Washington schools.

“Personally when I was applying to this school, I heard the word diversity thrown around, but I don’t see much of it around campus now,” Pekurovsky said.

Within the top 200 U.S. colleges according to The Wall Street Journal and THE, Puget Sound has only added to the list of recognition for academic success. But, as the THE rankings show, there are areas for improvement.

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