U.S. News already is working on the upcoming 2010 edition of the America's Best Colleges rankings, scheduled to be published in late August 2009. On March 17, we began the statistical data collection for the information used to produce the college rankings, guidebook, and website. This data collection is done online through a secure U.S. News website.
We're in the process of mailing out the annual peer assessment surveys that will be used in the rankings. College presidents, provosts, and admission deans at about 1,420 colleges and universities should start receiving their individual surveys during the week of March 23. Respondents have roughly eight weeks to return the surveys. After the first month, we send a second survey mailing to those who haven't yet responded.
We have added one new feature on this year's peer survey: We have asked respondents to nominate up to 10 colleges (from their U.S. News ranking category) where the faculty has an unusually strong "commitment to undergraduate teaching."
In addition, as a result of the positive feedback we received, for the second consecutive year we are asking respondents to nominate up to 10 "Up and Coming Institutions" from their U.S. News ranking category. These are the schools that everyone is—or should be—-looking at because they are making the most promising and innovative changes on their campuses.
We work on the college rankings 12 months a year: We hold and attend meetings throughout the year with higher education experts in order to listen to their suggestions and criticisms as well as to understand the latest campus trends. These consultations with college presidents, deans, institutional researchers, and high school counselors give us an opportunity to gather feedback on our ranking methodology. These conferences also are an important source of story ideas.