Courtesy of The Catholic University of America
By Felipe D. Avila
Students, faculty, and staff were taken by surprise by the updated U.S. News & World Report, finding that The Catholic University of America is officially the lowest ranked university in Washington, D.C. The U.S. News & World Report issues yearly ranking updates based on a complex set of methodologies that assess a university’s resources, student-outcomes, and other data points.
The Catholic University of America fell forty points from the previous academic year. The school is now ranked 176, compared to its previous ranking of 136.
In a university-wide email, President Kilpatrick provided a statement: “While this ranking is not among the most important measures of our success, some of the specific outcome measures are worthy of our attention. These include our graduation rates, our retention rates, and our social mobility score.”
According to U.S. News Education, the company “provides rankings of over 1400 best colleges and universities and hundreds of best graduate school programs.”
President Kilpatrick emphasized the urgency of addressing declining graduation rates among low-income students. While he stated that his office is working to address retention rates, he did not expand upon how he plans to curb low graduation rates.
The U.S. News & World Report asserts that over eighty percent of a college’s composite score is “based on a formula that uses statistical measures of academic quality, such as graduation rates, social mobility, graduate indebtedness, faculty information and admissions data.”
Critics of the U.S. News ranking methodology are quick to point out Columbia University dropping to eighteen, down from two the previous academic year. It is important to note that the university provided misleading information for its 2021 evaluation. The heavy dependency upon university-reported data has been a point of contention for many. The U.S. News & World Report provided a statement on its website defending the integrity of its process: “U.S. News believes the rankings methodologies are objective and fair.”
Following Catholic University’s drop, students answered the following question: “How do you feel knowing that Catholic University is the lowest ranking university in the District of Columbia?”
“I’m surprised because I’ve been here for three weeks and I already find it [the university] to be a good school.,” said freshman criminology major Diana Lopez.
Hellen Wallenberg, a freshman studio art major argues that “It’s a very expensive education for it to just be the lowest ranking school in D.C.”
“For all the money I’m paying, it’s a travesty that it’s the lowest ranking school. I just don’t understand. My professors have been great, I like them, I do feel like I’m getting the education I invested in,” said freshman world politics major Sebastian Fernandez.
Katherine-Elizabeth Ma, a freshman business major, believes that “This decrease in our ranking offers hope for growth and change for the better.”
“It’s opening our eyes that we’re not doing as well as we thought,” commented freshman civil engineering/architecture major, Fatima De Leon. “It shows that we really have a lot to work on. It’ll also give President Kilpatrick realistic goals to set for the year. It also helps him with the action steps that we, as a community, need to take.”
While Kilpatrick acknowledged some shortcomings of the ranking system, he recognizes the potential for university advancement. “While it’s not good for any institution to fixate too much on rankings, it is important to learn what you can from them,” said President Kilpatrick.
Information Courtesy of The Washington Post and U.S. World & News Report