U.S. News is publishing a first-ever analysis of colleges in our National Universities ranking category that are overperforming or underperforming their undergraduate academic reputations in terms of their overall Best Colleges 2013 rankings. This concept measures the degree to which a university's overall position in the rankings exceeds or falls short of its undergraduate academic reputation rank.
How should these results be interpreted?
If a school is doing better in the overall rankings than in its undergraduate academic reputation, it means the school is performing relatively well in the other key academic indicators used in the rankings: admissions selectivity, financial and faculty resources, alumni giving, and graduation and retention rates. It also means that a school's undergraduate reputation among its academic peers is lagging behind the progress the school has achieved in the underlying academic indicators.
On the other hand, if a school's academic reputation ranking is better than its overall ranking, it means that the school's performance in the key academic indicators used by U.S. News is not keeping pace with its academic reputation. This could mean that the school's undergraduate academic reputation is benefiting from a much higher reputation held by its various graduate schools. Or, it could mean that the school's reputation has yet to fully reflect negative trends that are taking place in the underlying academic indicators.
All the top overperforming universities except South Carolina State University are private schools. Many of the overperformers are relatively small research universities that grant fewer doctorates and conduct less research than others schools in their category. All the underperformers are large public universities—in some cases the top "flagship" public in their state—whose academic reputation rank exceeds the performance in the academic indicators.
For National Universities, the U.S. News ranking formula gives the academic reputation peer score a weight of 15 percent in the overall ranking model. Peer assessments are subjective, but they are also important because a diploma from a distinguished college helps graduates get good jobs or gain admission to top-notch graduate programs.
Only schools that were numerically ranked National Universities in the Best Colleges 2013 rankings were included in this analysis.
The table below shows the top 15 overperforming schools in the National Universities ranking category, where a school's overall numerical rank in the 2013 Best Colleges rankings was better than the school's academic peer assessment rank by the largest number of ranking places.
|School name (state)||U.S. News National Universities rank||Academic peer assessment rank||Overperformance|
|Adelphi University (NY)||155||213||+58|
|Ashland University (OH)||189||247||+58|
|University of St. Thomas (MN)||113||171||+58|
|Stevens Institute of Technology (NJ)||75||134||+59|
|St. Mary's University of Minnesota||174||238||+64|
|Azusa Pacific University (CA)||179||247||+68|
|Edgewood College (WI)||179||247||+68|
|University of Tulsa (OK)||83||151||+68|
|Yeshiva University (NY)||46||118||+72|
|Biola University (CA)||174||247||+73|
|Andrews University (MI)||189||264||+75|
|St. John Fisher College (NY)||151||226||+75|
|South Carolina State University||147||226||+79|
|University of La Verne (CA)||165||247||+82|
|Maryville University of St. Louis (MO)||160||247||+87|
This table shows the top 15 underperforming schools in the National Universities ranking category, where a school's overall numerical rank in the 2013 Best Colleges rankings was less than the school's academic peer assessment rank by the largest number of ranking places.
|School name (state)||U.S. News National Universities rank||Academic peer assessment rank||Underperformance|
|Arizona State University||139||70||-69|
|University of Arizona||120||59||-61|
|University of Illinois—Chicago||147||94||-53|
|Virginia Commonwealth University||170||118||-52|
|University of Montana||199||151||-48|
|University of North Carolina—Charlotte||199||151||-48|
|University of Colorado—Boulder||97||51||-46|
|George Mason University (VA)||139||94||-45|
|University of New Mexico||179||134||-45|
|University of Oregon||115||70||-45|
|University of Utah||125||82||-43|
|University of Maryland—Baltimore County||160||118||-42|
|University of Kansas||106||67||-39|
|University of Colorado—Denver||189||151||-38|
The ranking data above are correct as of Nov. 29, 2012.