U.S. News ranks GW No. 52

For the sixth consecutive year, GW has failed to place in U.S. News and World Report’s top 50 national universities rankings. GW, which was ranked No. 51 last year, dropped a notch, tying Pepperdine and Syracuse universities in the 52nd spot.

The University ranked 46th in 1998, and despite becoming more selective and building new academic and residential facilities, has failed to break into the top 50 since then.

Bob Morse, director of data research for U.S. News, said GW “is in a very competitive position.”

“The higher you get up in the list, the tougher it is to change spots,” Morse said. “All the schools are trying to improve … schools may gain in a few areas, but other schools are gaining in others.”

The magazine, which hit newsstands Monday, uses seven criteria for ranking schools: peer assessment, graduation and retention rate, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, graduation rate and alumni giving. Harvard and Princeton universities tied for the top spot in the rankings.

U.S. News made no changes in its data collecting and ranking procedures for undergraduate schools. Last year, the magazine began ranking second- and third-tier schools. Schools below the top 50 had previously been labeled “second tier” and listed alphabetically.

Kathryn Napper, director of Undergraduate Admissions, said GW’s rank did not surprise her, calling the ranking criteria too narrow.

“I think there’s some validity to it, but I think it’s not as detailed as it goes,” she said.

Napper said she does not place much emphasis on rankings and their ability to accurately portray a school’s quality.

“I don’t put a lot of thought into this. It doesn’t affect us,” Napper said. “I see it as a magazine trying to sell their magazines.” She noted that the University received more undergraduate applications than ever last year and had a higher yield rate, or percentage of admitted applicants who chose GW.

“It makes me frustrated. If a student is so worried about going to a ranked school, then that’s where they should go,” Napper said. “We’re not caught up in that.”

Out of 248 universities, GW ranked 50th in graduation and retention rate, 101st in faculty resources, 40th in student selectivity, 64th in financial resources and 42nd in alumni giving.

Napper said she does not think placing in the top 50 would help the University.

“It might help us get a few more applications from students who are only looking at schools in the top 50,” Napper said.

Morse said some officials use the rankings to determine where improvements can be made within their schools.

“It’s a range,” he said. “It goes from the Ivies, which claim they never respond to the rankings, to flagship publics that are using rankings as a benchmark for improvement.”

Sophomore Zack Colonna said he was surprised that GW missed the top 50 this year.

“It seems like we’re continually growing and getting better,” Colonna said.

Despite the University’s second tier label from U.S. News and World Report, Colonna considers GW a top tier school and said he does not take the rankings very seriously.

He said, “I’m not sure what else we could do to boost up.”

-Michael Barnett contributed to this report.

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