Columbia University Withdraws From US News University Rankings | This Week in Admissions News

08/07/20224 minute read
Columbia University Withdraws From US News University Rankings | This Week in Admissions News

The world of college admissions is ever-changing and for students with top university ambitions, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest developments. This week, Columbia University announced it will not be participating in the next US News & World Report college rankings, one of the most influential university rankings worldwide. Check back next week to see what’s new and noteworthy in university admissions!

Columbia University Withdraws From US News University Rankings

Columbia University this week announced it will not be participating in the next US News and World Report’s university rankings following a dispute over the accuracy of data used to secure Columbia's number two spot on the list.

One of Columbia’s faculty members, Professor Michael Thaddeus, recently scrutinized the US News rankings and questioned the accuracy of the data the university had submitted for the undergraduate rankings — which placed Columbia in a tie with Harvard in second place.

In his critique published earlier this year, Thaddeus questioned several of Columbia's self-reported figures, including the number of classes of various sizes, the percentage of faculty with terminal degrees, the proportion of full-time faculty teaching, and the student-teacher ratio.

At first, Columbia defended its original data. However, just before the July 1st deadline, the university announced that it will not be participating in next year’s rankings.

“Columbia leaders take these questions seriously, and we immediately embarked on a review of our data collection and submissions process,” Columbia’s provost, Mary C. Boyce, shared in an official statement.

The university is currently conducting an extensive analysis to review the data and ensure it conforms to US News methodology. “Columbia has long conducted what we believed to be a thorough process for gathering and reporting institutional data, but we are now closely reviewing our processes in light of the questions raised,” Boyce continued. “The ongoing review is a matter of integrity. We will take no shortcuts in getting it right.” The University plans to publish a Common Data Set in the fall that will provide prospective students and families with a profile of Columbia's exceptional undergraduate experience — which includes “much of the same information used in the U.S. News university profiles impart.”

According to a June 30th New York Times report, many college presidents have complained that the rankings force them to focus on specific statistics and argue this information oversimplifies what a student should look out for when seeking the best university fit for them. Having an Ivy League school withdraw from the rankings, even temporarily, can cause a major impact — possibly encouraging other schools to “reconsider their participation,” according to the Times.

Other top stories in admissions news this week:

  • For the first time since 2019, the University of Oxford will hold its annual open day in person, according to the Oxford Mail. This allows students interested in applying to Oxford to learn more about undergraduate courses, meet current students, talk to tutors, and get a taste of what to expect from the university experience.
  • The Washington Post's longtime education journalist, Jay Mathews, writes "given the need to distinguish yourself from the horde of other applicants", students applying to US unis ought to "think about not what makes you great, but what makes you odd." He points out as application numbers continue to grow every year, "the heavy volume is going to fry the eyeballs of beleaguered admissions staffers trying to keep up" — advising applicants to "make fun of yourself, at least once, maybe twice. This is not a recommendation you will find in standard college admission advice books. Don’t overdo it. But slipping in a bit of self-deprecation can help."
  • Oxford Mail writes, according to a new report from UCAS, disabled students need earlier targeted support at school to progress onto university courses: while a record high number of disabled students applied to UK universities in 2021, disabled students are 28% more likely to defer entry to university.
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