U.S. News is hard at work on the 2013 edition of the Best Colleges rankings, which will be published in fall 2012.
We have mailed the annual peer assessment reputation surveys of undergraduate academic quality that will be an important part of the rankings. These reputation surveys are weighted 15 percent of a college's overall ranking in the National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges categories and 25 percent in the Regional Universities and Regional Colleges categories.
U.S. News knows that peer assessments are subjective, but a school's reputation for academic quality is important to prospective students, since they know it could help them get their first job after graduation and make a good impression if they are planning to apply to graduate school.
For the third year in row, U.S. News surveyed a cross-section of high school counselors from public and private high schools nationwide for their views on the academic reputation of undergraduate programs in the National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges ranking categories. We know that high school counselors have unique knowledge of the quality of undergraduate programs in this country that will be very valuable to our readers.
As was the case for last year's rankings, U.S. News will incorporate the results of the high school counselor rankings directly into the Best Colleges methodology used in the National Universities and National Liberal Arts rankings. Last year, they counted for 7.5 percent of the overall score.
Some of the other key information we seek through these surveys:
• Which schools are up and coming? Which schools are best at undergraduate teaching? Which schools have exemplary academic programs that are believed to lead to student success?
• For the second year in a row we have included a current issues opinion poll, sponsored by Fidelity Investments, that asks college leaders their views on many key concerns facing higher education today and in the future. The results will not be part of any rankings and will be published later in 2012.
We are also in the process of mailing peer assessment surveys that are used to calculate the undergraduate business, undergraduate engineering, and historically black colleges and universities rankings.