WEB EXTRA: U.S. News change will not impact GW’s rank

Posted July 27GW officials said recent changes to U.S. News and World Report college ranking formula will not significantly impact the University’s standing.

The annual rankings, which have placed GW in the second tier for four straight years, will no longer count yield rate -the percentage of accepted student who chose to enroll at a school- when calculating the top universities in the country.

U.S. News officials said they decided to oust yield from the annual rankings because some educators said universities could manipulate their yield rates by accepting more Early Decision candidates. Students who apply Early Decision are bound to accept a university’s offer, thus giving a university a higher yield rate.

Although yield rate only accounted for 1.5 percent of a university’s overall ranking and was therefore “almost impossible to change rankings by increasing yield,” U.S. News wanted to eliminate any possible problems, said Sara Sklaroff, U.S. News education and culture editor.

“Yield wasn’t affecting rankings one way or another,” Sklaroff said. “We wanted to eliminate anything that was muddying the waters.”

When U.S. News calculates its rankings of the best schools in the country, school selectivity accounts for 15 percent of a university’s overall score. School selectivity includes test scores, class standing and acceptance rate, now that yield has been eliminated. The magazine’s new formula, which will be used when the rankings come out in August, places more emphasis on class standing and test scores, and less on acceptance rate.

University officials said the move will not impact GW’s standing.

The change in U.S. News’ formula should not have a “major bearing on the eventual score” of GW or other universities because it only counted for 1.5 percent of the total, said Robert Chernak, senior vice president for Student and Academic Services.

But Chernak said the University will continue to monitor the factor.

When universities like GW borrow money to build new facilities, they rely on their bond ratings to determine the interest rate they pay. Ratings agencies factor in admissions and academics, debt and money management, among other elements, when preparing a university’s financial reports. The better the bond rating, the lower the interest a university pays.

Ratings agency Standard and Poor’s – which rates GW as financially stable-noted the University’s “comprehensive academic programs, evidenced by increasing enrollment and increasing freshmen applications” in its credit profile rationale for the University. GW’s yield rate continues to improve with 34 percent of accepted students choosing to enroll this year, up from 29 percent in 1999.

Chernak said ratings are not the most important reason administrators look at yield.

“The real reason to improve our yield is that it is an indicator of picking order of the marketplace,” Chernak said. “When you’re accepting a student your hope is that the student is going to accept our offer of acceptance.”

Chernak said GW accepts the best candidates that apply to the University, but yield rate may vary from school to school. He said students in the Elliot School of International Affairs tend to have higher SAT scores and class rank, and the School of Media and Public Affairs is one of the most competitive.

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