U.S News Ranking Overlooks Uniqueness of Wilkes University

by Web Services

The U.S. News & World Report annual ranking of American colleges and universities was released today. Wilkes University is pleased to be once again listed among the institutions in our regional universities category, though the publication does not take into consideration the profile of the student body when creating its rankings. 

Since its founding in 1933, Wilkes University has provided academic opportunity to the citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and beyond. Consequently, Wilkes University enrolls many diverse and financially needy students. In 2016:

  • 50 percent of our current undergraduate students are the first in their families to pursue a four-year college degree.
  • 43 percent of our incoming first-year class are eligible for Pell grants, the Federal aid program for the most financially needy. Of the institutions ranked ahead of Wilkes, only 12 have a higher Pell student population.
  • Only 36 students in Wilkes’ incoming first-year of 675 – Wilkes’ largest ever – came from private (i.e. college preparatory) high schools.
  • Wilkes educates more men (52 percent) than women (48 percent) at the undergraduate level. Only 12 institutions ahead of Wilkes on the list have a higher percentage of male students.
  • 26 percent of Wilkes’ undergraduate students report as non-white, creating a diverse and inclusive educational community.
  • 8 percent of Wilkes’ undergraduate students are international students. Only 7 institutions ahead of Wilkes on the list claim a higher percentage of international undergraduate students, and the average for all schools is just 3 percent.

All of these factors are significantly different than most of the other institutions – private or public – on the list. Since there is a direct correlation between these factors and outcome measures, this ranking methodology adversely affects institutions with true access missions.

Dr. Patrick F. Leahy, President of Wilkes University, said: “We were founded as a private institution with a public purpose. We remain committed to this founding principle to provide academic opportunity to the region, as evidenced by our commitment to access. We will continue to do everything we can to improve the measures in the U.S. News ranking, not because the publication demands it, but because our students deserve it.”

In the coming years, Wilkes University’s U.S. News category will likely change from the regional universities category to the national universities category, reflecting the volume and diversity of our graduate program offerings. Of the institutions ranked ahead of Wilkes, only 1 other institution confers at least 800 masters and 100 doctoral degrees annually.

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