Questions about precision of university rankings raised

By Wesley Deberry

According to U.S. News and World Report’s list of the Best Colleges of 2008, the University ranked 38th this year, which is an improvement from last years ranking of 41.

Questions have been raised in the past about the accuracy of the rankings and whether they help students to find jobs after they leave their university.

In March, Kris Campbell, coordinator of public affairs research at the University, received a survey with approximately 600 questions concerning different areas of the University.

Included with the survey were peer evaluation surveys for the chancellor, president and the deans of the college of Business and Engineering, which allowed each to rank other colleges around the country.

“About 25 percent of the rankings are based on peer evaluation … so it is totally subjective,” Campbell said.

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The remaining 75 percent is based on the survey Campbell submits on behalf of the entire University.

Campbell said the problem with the rankings is that some universities may have different interpretations of the questions on the survey.

She added that the misinterpretations can result in a manipulation of the numbers, either favorably or unfavorably.

Bob Hedrick, University alumnus and owner of Hedrick Systems Group, said that he does not think the ranking will have an impact on graduates seeking employment because the rankings are based on a general overview of the college rather than specific areas.

“For me it is much more important to know about the individual colleges,” Hedrick said. “I know that there are some colleges on this campus that are ranked higher than (38th).”

Amelia Petersdorf, junior in Business, said she believes the ranking will benefit a student who has earned an undergraduate degree.

“It means that obviously we have a greater education program, so employers will look at that very highly,” said Petersdorf.

She added that other factors such as past work experience, hard work and personality can also play an integral role in the hiring process.

Campbell also said that other factors can affect recruitment by companies looking to hire recent graduates.

“I don’t think that recruiters use the rankings to decide if they are going to recruit at school or not,” Campbell said. “It comes down to the relationship that colleges have with companies and alumni history that makes a difference.”