Ranking lists don’t reflect full UM experience

In the decision-making process of choosing a college, students weigh several options that ultimately bring them to their end result. Some might consider degree options, location, tuition cost and even rankings. Undoubtedly, attending a university with a high ranking comes up in everyone’s mind; any student would be attracted to the allure of a school prestigious enough to top the U.S. News and World Report’s famous list.

But here at the U, our ranking in the new 2020 U.S. News and World Report’s list is 57. Our ranking has been steadily falling for years, as this is a decrease from last year’s ranking of 53 and 2016’s ranking of 46. While rankings are certainly not the single marker of a great college, it is concerning that our rankings keep falling.

What’s especially concerning is the fact that while our tuition goes up, our rankings fall. Meanwhile, other Florida schools such as Florida State University and the University of Florida continue to rise on the list. FSU is now tied with us at number 57, and UF sits 23 spots above us at number 34. These state schools boast significantly lower tuition rates than UM, which begs the question: Is a UM education worth the exorbitant tuition rates?

Many students think so. Despite our rankings, people still want to go to UM. This past year, we welcomed more than 2,800 new students and got more selective in our admissions process, thus solidifying the fact that smart, well-rounded students want to come to our school.

Many changes have been happening on campus, and we are becoming an even more sought-after school. Every year, we accumulate thousands of outstanding applicants and alumni. Schools such as the Frost School of Music are nationally acclaimed, and other schools, such as the School of Communication, are continuously garnering prestige.

The university has also been creating initiatives to better support underrepresented population of students and have found success with programs like Empower U, a program spearheaded by members in the Office of Academic Enhancement to support first-generation students. Though just recently implemented, it has already earned national recognition from Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and the Suder Foundation.

The rankings list gets its outcomes from factoring things like graduation rates, student retention and academic reputation. If we are discussing reputation, then we have been doing well. We just welcomed two new deans– Anthony Varona at the School of Law and Karin Gwinn Wilkins at the School of Communication– both of whom are well known in their fields. Our Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center has earned National Cancer Institute designation, which is quite notable as there are only 71 chosen centers. Honoring and supporting the culture at our school, the university has also opened a regional office in Mexico City, Mexico, the first of what they expect to be “five hubs aimed at cementing our aspiration of being the hemispheric university.”

And yet, we are not perfect. Our housing should be better, and many students struggle to feel comfortable in the dingy and outdated dorms. However, UM is working to fix this problem with the new Lakeside Village under construction. This project is said to promise sufficient, integrated and sustainable living experiences.

We also acknowledge the fact that some students un-enroll or transfer to other universities due to the high cost of tuition and board, and the initial cost of the school might scare applicants away. UM’s price is definitely a burden for a lot of students, and we have to acknowledge that.

So yes, our school has flaws, much like any other universities. There are things that we don’t like, things the university should change. But instead of focusing on how to improve our ranking, let’s focus on how to improve our school.

UM’s students, faculty, staff and alumni are what make this university great, not its ranking. So instead of looking at the past, we should keep our sights set on the future. Because at the end of the day, we’ll always be proud to call ourselves Miami Hurricanes.

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