U.S. News rankings miss the point

This week GW fell out of the top 50 in the U.S. News & World Report rankings. I wonder if the people who determine the rankings have visited our school in the last few years.

When I was a freshman in 1996, the school was ranked 46th. At that time, there was no Ethernet or cable in the residence halls. The basement of the Marvin Center was a grungy cafeteria. There was a parking lot where New Hall stands, and very few students had heard of Mount Vernon College.

In a short time, GW will have a new hospital, a new School of Media and Public Affairs building, and a new Health and Wellness Center. The number of applicants to GW went up last year, and the school is better known around the nation. When I told people I was going to The George Washington University after high school, most people asked where in St. Louis it was (referring to Washington University). Now, I don’t know of anyone who makes that mistake.

GW professors are highly respected authors and educators. They debate national issues and help to determine United States domestic and foreign policy. Over the past three years, the school has made many efforts to improve itself and it seems everyone but the people who do the rankings know that.

Another factor that is never figured into the collegiate rankings is the opportunity for learning outside the classroom that each school makes available. If they did, GW would outrank almost everyone. How many political science or international affairs majors at other schools can say they worked on Capitol Hill, the White House, the State Department, or hundreds of other places that allow us to gain experience in our fields? GW allows students to exercise what they have learned in the classroom in a work environment so we can better choose a job after graduation. We are helping to manage the 2000 presidential campaigns, and running for offices as well. GW students sing at the Kennedy Center, on national television, write for national newspapers, and produce radio and television programs. GW students are active and involved in issues affecting the entire world, and we are the leaders of tomorrow.

I feel that being in the top 50 is a matter of respect to our institution. The accomplishments of GW students, faculty, and administrators command and deserve that kind of respect.

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