Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

Daily Email Edition

Get MN Daily NEWS delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday!


Editorial Cartoon: Journalists in Gaza
Editorial Cartoon: Journalists in Gaza
Published February 23, 2024
A warm February night at Afton Alps. Afton Alps offers discounts for college students.
College students ski cheap at Afton Alps
Published February 23, 2024

UMN’s college ranking: How valuable is it?

Are rankings important when deciding which college to go to?
Image by Dean Tan
The front of the Northrop Mall on Nov. 1, 2022.

In 2022, US News ranked the University of Minnesota the twenty-third best public university, something the University has actively worked toward, but does this ranking actually mean anything to students?

US News is the primary college-ranking organization of the nation’s universities, Vice Provost and Dean for Undergraduate Education Robert McMaster said. Some variables they use when ranking include class size, how many faculty members have the highest degree in their field, students’ average test scores and the amount of students that graduate within a six year period, he said.

The University works toward achieving a higher ranking each year by decreasing class sizes and providing support to students so that graduation rates increase, McMaster said.

“Rankings provide valuable information to students,” McMaster said. “But making a decision solely on ranking would be a mistake.”

Students might choose their college because of its educational programs. For example, at the University, there are strong programs in engineering and social sciences, McMaster said.

Alli Harpel, a third-year graduate student, came to the University because of the college’s research with magnetics and said she never looked at the rankings.

“For a PhD, the reason why you go to school is if they have faculty and staff doing the work you want to do in the future,” Harpel said.

Often, geography is a factor in students’ decision making on which university they choose. Non-resident students refer to rankings when making decisions, while most residents or students with reciprocity might not, McMaster said.

“I came to the University because it was close by and I’d be near a lot of people I knew,” Jacob Worwa, a second-year student said.

Worwa said he did not know the University’s college ranking before attending but assumed it was high because of the University’s reputation.

“It’s a very good University with smart people,” he said.

Saija Maki-Waller, a second-year student, said she wanted to live in a big city, which led to her decision to come to the University.

“It’s been a big plus staying close by and saving money through in-state tuition,” Maki-Waller, who grew up an hour south of Minneapolis, said.

Maki-Waller did not think much about the University’s ranking and said “it didn’t factor into my decision.”

Despite the potential value of rankings, all rankings differ, which can make them problematic, McMaster said.

US News predicts based on income and metrics what the expected six-year graduation rate should be, specifically for low-income students, and ranks the universities according to if they went above or below that expectation, McMaster said.

A six-year graduation rate is used because it takes into account students who, due to legitimate reasons, cannot graduate within four years. This leads to the problem of the only objective metric available being a student’s grade point average (GPA) because the University does not currently require ACT or SAT scores and fewer schools have class rank, McMaster said.

All rankings should be considered in context, McMaster said. Students should take into account the education, experiences, research and other resources the University provides, he said.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Accessibility Toolbar

Comments (0)

All The Minnesota Daily Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *