VP of Academic Affairs clarifies NSU’s poor ranking on best college report

At NSU, you may “do what you want to do” and “be what you want to be.” But, according to the 2011 U.S. World and News Report’s national university rankings, that is not enough.

NSU, Barry University, Florida Atlantic University, and Florida International University appeared in the report’s second tier, which means they ranked in the bottom 25 percent.

However, Frank DePiano, Ph.D., vice president of Academic Affairs, said the rankings are biased toward popular schools.

“I’ve gotten surveys from U.S. News Report asking me about my impressions of places. They send those surveys to a lot of people and base a lot of their ranking on the answers,” he said. “So, [the rankings] are always going to be biased to better-known schools.”

The report ranked the universities by looking at schools’ 2009 undergraduate data. Criteria included retention rates, graduation rates, acceptance rate, selectivity, and faculty quality.

“I think the bigger thing, more than what a university does, is what impact it has on the student,” said DePiano.

He said that while NSU is not as selective as other universities on the list, NSU adds more value to students by accepting applicants with lower scores and turning them into successes.

“I think what makes an institution really worthwhile is taking people and transforming them,” he said.

According to College Board, NSU admits 45 percent of undergraduate applicants. Harvard University, which ranked number one, accepts seven percent.

DePiano said that, aside from reputation, what may have ranked NSU so low on the list may have been the university’s retention and graduation rates. About 65 percent of freshmen return for a second year and the average graduation rate is 50 percent.

He said the university is working to improve this by providing students at risk of dropping out with a mentoring program, strategic sessions and counseling.

“As retention rate increases our ranking will enhance,” said DePiano. “But we’re not doing this because the U.S. News Report is asking us to. We’re doing it to improve our undergraduate program.”

Ivan Almanza, sophomore exercise science major, said he did not think the ranking will affect the way students view NSU.

“We know what NSU is really like. We’re getting our education and that is all that matters,” he said.

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