September 13, 2017
In its just-released list of best colleges, U.S. News positions West Chester at #64 in Best Regional Universities North. WCU tied with six other institutions in the North region but had both the highest first-year retention rate of all schools in the tie and the highest actual 2016 graduation rate.
For its 2018 rankings, U.S. News assessed the academic quality of 1,611 schools, 659 of them regional universities divided into four geographic regions. Nonacademic considerations such as campus safety, athletics, and access to college-owned housing, were not factored. In the National Universities, National Liberal Arts Colleges, Regional Universities and Regional Colleges categories, 77.5 percent of a school’s ranking was based on a formula that uses objective measures of academic quality: first-year student retention and graduation of students; peer assessment; faculty resources; admissions selectivity; financial resources; alumni giving; and graduation rate performance, which is the difference between the proportion of students expected to graduate and the proportion who actually do. The U.S. News formula puts an emphasis on outcomes, evidenced by measures of graduation and retention being the most heavily weighted factors in the Best Colleges rankings.
Over time, U.S. News has placed greater weight on the outcome measures of quality, such as graduation rate, and de-emphasized the input measures, such as high school class standing and financial resources. This change is consistent with education experts’ growing emphasis on outcomes in assessing the performance of complex institutions, such as colleges.
Accredited four-year colleges and universities report most of the information directly to U.S. News, which annually surveys them via an extensive questionnaire.
The full rankings, data, and methodologies can only be found via the U.S. News College Compass.