Staff editorial 9/15: Beyond the numbers

Nearly everyone who calls the University of Miami home is immensely proud of their beloved U. Even through tough times, like the NCAA scandal, students proudly wear orange and green and trash talk with the best of them.

So when U.S. News & World Report ranked UM as No. 38 in the country, Twitter and Facebook feeds exploded with Hurricane pride. And it’s no wonder – we finally have something to celebrate.

Now that the rankings are several days old, however, the excitement is wearing off a bit, and we can take a closer look at what it actually means. There’s no doubt that UM is improving. It’s light-years away from the days of “Suntan U.” But while U.S. News & World Report ranks us as No. 38, lists UM at a lowly No. 221 on its 2012 America’s Top Colleges list.

We can blame this extreme disparity on either publication’s rubric. U.S. News & World Report emphasizes on an institution’s reputation and its student and faculty performance. Forbes, on the other hand, puts more stock in buyer satisfaction. In their books, expensive schools rank highly, with high graduation rates, scholarship awards and high-paying careers counteracting tuition costs.

And UM is ranked No. 221. Ouch.

Don’t be so quick to delete those celebratory tweets though. Statistics for the latest incoming freshman class are higher than they’ve ever been, with half of them having graduated in the top five percent of their high school class. Graduation rates are on the rise as well, and the new student center that is currently under construction shows how far we’ve come and how much farther we will continue to go.

But all these rankings should be taken with a grain of salt, including our top spot in  Florida. We need to keep in mind that Forbes ranks UF at No. 137, and FSU at No. 193. While UF’s stats have consistently gone up on, budget cuts have stagnated the colleges’ ranking on the U.S. News & World Report. Public schools just can’t spend as much to keep up with the U.

So which number should we believe, 38 or 221? Probably neither. Let’s stick with No. 1, because everyone knows it’s all about the U.

Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.