Once again, UR has been ranked 36th in the nation for national universities according to the “U.S. News and World Report” annual college standings issue. Various reasons have been attributed to UR’s stationary position in the top university rankings, including graduation statistics and peer-judged reputation scores, which are main considerations in the scoring process.UR officials felt that the ranking is not integral to the view of our university as a whole. President Thomas Jackson said, “Centrally, we need to focus on what we think we are about as an academic institution, whether or not ‘U.S. News’ gives us ‘credit’ for doing that.” Other categories also enter into the methodology, among them retention rate, faculty and university resources, student selectivity, matriculation rates and alumni giving.UR is ranked 24th in indebtedness when students graduate and 63rd for alumni giving, with a 94 percent freshman retention rate, and a 75 percent graduation rate.Schools among the top ten in the “U.S. News” report include Princeton University, Harvard University, Yale University, California Institute of Technology and Duke University. UR followed New York University, and ranked higher than such schools as Case Western Reserve University, Tulane University and Boston College.The top factor in determining a school’s ranking is peer surveys, which determine a school’s academic reputation, and are given out to high-ranking officials of each university. They count for 25 percent of the weight for the ranking. Fifteen other “indicators” are used to add up a university’s score, each with a varying degree of weight attached to it. This is then scaled to 100 and ranked, with UR coming in with 64 points.The issue of graduation rates also affects a school’s ranking, which is the second highest weighted measure. The statistic is based on six-year graduation rates ? on students that entered the school as far back as 1992. The statistic may not show up for a decade after, so improvement is slow to appear in the standings. Jackson said, “Our graduation rates are dramatically better, but?because of this lag?will be appearing in ‘U.S. News’ rankings over the next several years, rather than immediately.”Dean of The College William Green did not feel the “U.S. News” ranking would affect prospective students. “Although the ‘U.S. News’ listing contains some useful comparative data, there is research to suggest that it does not play a significant role in college selection for most high school students,” he said.Jackson also noted that while good rankings have an influence on prospective students, word-of-mouth becomes the more important factor. “I think high rankings make one ‘feel good’?whether students, parents, alums or faculty? and I think they influence, to some modest extent, prospective students,” Jackson said. “But more important are what guidance counselors?and even current students?say about us.”Current UR students did not seem fazed by the rating. “For the size of the school and the location, [the ranking] is good,” freshman Chris Skelton said. “It’s the best ranked school closest to home for me.” Sophomore Justin Berkowitz expressed a similar view. “It doesn’t really matter. The Top 50 is good, so where [UR is] in the Top 50 doesn’t matter that much.”Green also felt the rankings will not have an impact on UR’s future. “Our work here is continually to improve the quality of a Rochester education and draw to Rochester students who can benefit the most from learning here. The ‘U.S. News’ rankings are just a small part of that labor.”Linden can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.