Forbes Magazine has released their list of top colleges for 2014, dropping Youngstown State University two spots from number 638 to 640.
The list is compiled using five factors, each making up a certain percentage of the final ranking: post-graduation success, 32.5 percent of the final ranking; student satisfaction, 25 percent; student debt, 25 percent; academic success, 10 percent; and graduation rate, 7.5 percent. Rankings are created by giving each college a score in each category.
While it may seem that the university is falling off the list only one year after making its debut, Caroline Howard, Forbes writer and author of the list, said the new position is not a direct reflection of YSU and does not necessarily indicate a change in quality.
“Two spots is insignificant,” Howard said. “I mean, you have to remember that this is a list with many moving parts. Often times, the ranking has more to do with what other schools are doing, rather than what your school is doing.”
Teri Riley, interim provost and vice president at YSU, agreed that the drop is rather insignificant.
“The drop in ranking from 638 to 640 is not likely to be significant,” Riley said. “In the 2014 rankings, the school ranked 638 has a total score of 22.10 and YSU’s total score is 21.84 — a difference of .26 between the scores of the 638th school and YSU.”
Riley indicated that some individual component scores decreased, and some increased, but none by a large amount.
Specific numbers for YSU include a pay scale salary rank of 513 and a ranking of 532 for alumni receiving Ph.D.s. The university ranked in the 550-560 range — the lowest range — in multiple categories, just as it did in 2013. These categories include retention rate, federal student rate, debt default rate, graduation rate and student awards.
“Anything between 550 and 650 gets put into one grouping,” Howard said.
While the new ranking does not reflect any major changes or decline at YSU, there is still disappointment in the drop. Jack Fahey, vice president of student affairs, said he sees the new list as a negative.
“To have basically the same rating as last year is a disappointment,” Fahey said. “It is our goal to continuously improve. Forbes ratings are based on criteria that are very important to YSU: student satisfaction, post-graduation success, graduation rate and academic success. We are improving in all of these areas, but so are most universities. We need to be improving more rapidly than most universities.”
Initiatives taken so far to improve academic achievement include a tightened enrollment policy and new admission requirements, which plays a part in the 2014 freshmen having the highest incoming GPAs and ACT scores in YSU’s history. To help boost post-graduation success, initiatives have been taken to enhance job fairs and provide interview training, with the hope of offering more internship opportunities soon.
Initiatives in the works include developing a major marketing campaign, formalizing exit interviews, implementing dual enrollment with Eastern Gateway Community College, providing more scholarships and improving course completion rates.
“Having made the list, we can’t be satisfied hanging at the bottom of it,” Fahey said. “We need to move up annually toward the middle — look for more initiatives this fall to accelerate our progress.”
YSU takes its place on the list at number 640 out of over 2,000 eligible colleges.