Colleges That High School Counselors, College Officials View Differently

Large public universities and STEM-focused schools had some of the biggest gaps in reputation ranks.

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In order to show the degree to which top college administrators and high school counselors differ in their views of the academic quality of universities, U.S. News is publishing an analysis of colleges that shows the academic reputation rankings gap as reported by high school counselors and high-ranking college officials in our 2014 Best Colleges rankings.

This is the second year we have analyzed this data for schools in the National Universities rankings category, but is the first time we have done so for National Liberal Arts Colleges.

St. Mary's University of Minnesota and Soka University of America, in California, lead the exclusive list of schools that are more highly ranked by high school counselors than by college officials by the largest number of places. This was the second year in a row St. Mary's topped the list of National Universities.

When a college is ranked higher by high school counselors than by the college raters, the school's undergraduate reputation among its academic peers is lagging behind the view of that college held by high school counselors.

A college which has an undergraduate academic reputation ranked lower by high school counselors than by college administrators has a considerably greater reputation among its fellow academic raters than it does among high school counselors.

The National Universities that are more highly ranked by high school counselors are generally either smaller schools, universities that have recently expanded into research and granting doctoral degrees or schools whose curriculum is concentrated in science, technology, engineering and math, the so-called STEM fields. The universities that are more highly ranked by college officials than by high school counselors are all very large public universities, often the state's flagship school.

The U.S. News ranking formula weights high school counselor reputation at 7.5 percent in the rankings, and the academic reputation peer score at 15 percent in the overall ranking model for both National Liberal Arts Colleges and National Universities. U.S. News includes the subjective peer assessments because a diploma from a distinguished college helps graduates get good jobs or gain admission to top-notch graduate programs.

Only numerically ranked National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges in the Best Colleges 2014 rankings were included in this analysis.

More Highly Ranked by High School Counselors Than by College Officials

The schools in the National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges ranking categories for which the high school counselor rank was better than the school's academic peer assessment rank in the 2014 Best Colleges rankings by the largest number of places are shown in the tables below.

National Universities

School name (state) U.S. News National Universities overall rank Peer assessment rank High school counselor rank Difference
St. Mary's University of Minnesota 173 231 127 +104
Maryville University of St. Louis 161 260 175 +85
Biola University (CA) 177 254 175 +79
Michigan Technological University 117 152 85 +67
Polytechnic Institute of New York University 128 152 85 +67
University of Massachusetts—Lowell 158 182 127 +55
University of St. Thomas (MN) 112 182 127 +55
Azusa Pacific University (CA) 173 246 195 +51
Worcester Polytechnic Institute (MA) 62 101 52 +49
Howard University (DC) 142 117 69 +48
Missouri University of Science & Technology 128 152 104 +48
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey—Newark 142 133 85 +48
Seton Hall University (NJ) 128 133 85 +48
University of Texas—Dallas 142 152 104 +48
Andrews University (MI) 181 260 215 +45

 National Liberal Arts Colleges

School name (state) U.S. News National Liberal Arts Colleges rank Peer assessment rank High school counselor rank Difference
Soka University of America (CA) 41 212 105 +107
Ouachita Baptist University (AR) 173 200 124 +76
Erskine College (SC) 180 166 91 +75
Lyon College (AR) 167 166 91 +75
Georgetown College (KY) 146 147 73 +74
Hillsdale College (MI) 82 166 105 +61
Wells College (NY) 141 147 91 +56
William Jewell College (MO) 146 147 91 +56
Concordia College—Moorhead (MN) 138 118 73 +45
Purchase College—SUNY 156 166 124 +42
Westminster College (MO) 146 147 105 +42
Wesleyan College (GA) 161 132 91 +41
Salem College (NC) 156 187 149 +38
Bennington College (VT) 100 107 73 +34
Hampshire College (MA) 110 107 73 +34

Less Highly Ranked by High School Counselors Than by College Officials

The schools in the National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges ranking categories for which the academic peer assessment rank was ahead of the high school counselor rank by the largest number of places in the 2014 Best Colleges rankings are shown in the tables below.

National Universities

School name (state) U.S. News National Universities overall rank Peer assessment rank High school counselor rank Difference
University of Cincinnati 135 117 215 -98
University of Hawaii—Manoa 158 133 215 -82
Arizona State University 142 71 150 -79
University of Central Florida 170 166 234 -68
West Virginia University 170 152 215 -63
University of Alabama—Birmingham 152 117 175 -58
Stony Brook University—SUNY 82 71 127 -56
University of Arizona 119 51 104 -53
University of Florida 49 40 85 -45
University of South Florida 170 152 195 -43
University of Wyoming 161 152 195 -43
Clarkson University (NY) 121 133 175 -42
University of Missouri 97 65 104 -39
Florida State University 91 91 127 -36
University at Buffalo—SUNY 109 91 127 -36
University of California—Riverside 112 91 127 -36
University of Utah 121 91 127 -36


National Liberal Arts Colleges

School name (state) U.S. News National Liberal Arts Colleges rank Peer assessment rank High school counselor rank Difference
Susquehanna University (PA) 115 107 186 -79
Coe College (IA) 120 96 169 -73
Berea College (KY) 76 58 124 -66
Illinois College 156 147 208 -61
Drew University (NJ) 107 96 149 -53
Knox College (IL) 82 74 124 -50
Hampden-Sydney College (VA) 97 107 149 -42
Roanoke College (VA) 126 107 149 -42
Siena College (NY) 126 107 149 -42
Ursinus College (PA) 82 82 124 -42
Monmouth College (IL) 165 132 169 -37
College of Idaho 167 166 201 -35
Moravian College (PA) 138 166 201 -35
Central College (IA) 134 118 149 -31
Guilford College (NC) 173 118 149 -31
Linfield College (OR) 123 118 149 -31
Xavier University of Louisiana 161 118 149 -31