Last week, the U.S. News and World Report released the annual rankings of the best colleges in the U.S. Emporia State was ranked 36 out of the 56 public Regional Universities in the Midwest.
ESU ranked below Washburn University at 18 and Pittsburg State at 33. Fort Hays and Wichita State did not make it on the list. KU was ranked number 46 on the national list and K-State was number 73, out of 111 schools.
Schools are judged based on peer assessment, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources and alumni involvement and donations.
But John Schrock, professor of biology, said that ESU’s knowledge of its students is what separates it from bigger schools like KU and K-State.
Teachers at ESU have an open door policy that allows students to contact their professors anytime with questions or concerns.
“I don’t think anyone here really cares that we don’t have the prestige,” said Kristen Baggett, junior print making major. “I’m here because of the price and distance from my home.”
Distance from home and affordability seem to be a common factor for many students in their decision to attend ESU.
Jessica Roth, sophomore business administration major, said “(ESU) is affordable and not far from home.”
But others have a different view of ESU.
Yasmin Henderson, senior art therapy major, said that she initially chose ESU because of location, but she will not be continuing at ESU for her graduate courses.
“I know there is better opportunity out there,” Henderson said “Mainly I feel like the course work is dumbed down and standardized.”
She said that teachers should incorporate more assignments such as student forums, debates and research projects that encourage intellectual thought and self-teaching.
“It’s lecture, test, lecture, test – it’s just written memorization,” Henderson said. “Where is the intellectual growth?”
Still, Schrock said there are some problems with how schools are ranked. U.S News and World Report judges schools as a whole, places a heavy weight on reputation and puts value in the number of students instead of degree programs.
“They are looking only at the surface.” Schrock said. “The quality is at a program level, a quality in teachers.”
Schrock said the report places a heavy weight on a university’s reputation, almost 25 percent of the score. Schrock also said that this results in elite reputations continuing, even though the programs and students have changed, and he compared this ranking system to beauty pageants.
Another problem with the ranking system is that when universities try to increase retention and graduation rates they decrease the value of a degree, according to Schrock.
“If you want to have higher retention and graduation rates, you need to increase admission requirements well beyond the basic Qualified Admission,” Schrock said, “so that only college-able students attend the state schools.”
To view the full results, go to Usnews.com.