The U.S. News’ “Best National University Rankings” placed the University of Miami at #55 for the second consecutive year. Again, its ranking ties that of Florida State University (FSU).
The U.S. News rankings are the most popular of their kind in the United States, helping to guide students and parents as they sort through hundreds of public and private universities and colleges. U.S. News’ “Best” series reaches over 40 million people monthly.
Yet, the fall in rankings doesn’t appear to dampen the number of students applying to and attending UM. According to UM’s 2021-2022 Factbook, UM’s acceptance rate fell from 36% in 2017 to 28% in Fall 2021, while the number of students applying rose to over 42,000 from 30,634 in 2017.
“I think it’s a little bit unfair because it’s a great school, at least for me,” senior business tech and marketing major Rohan Tharaney said. “The faculty, they have been pretty unparalleled.”
The #55 ranking did not bother other students.
“We’re not getting worse or better, which is not the end of the world,” freshman computer science major Skyler Schwanewede said. “It’s okay, that we’re staying neutral.”
U.S. News creates a score for each university, primarily based on “outcomes” “faculty resources” and “expert opinion.”
“Outcomes” looks at how the college is able to enroll, retain and graduate students from diverse backgrounds while maintaining a minimum amount of debt.
This comprises 40% of the score, making it the most important measure in the entire ranking. It’s mostly based on enrollment rate, retention rate and six year graduation rate.
While UM’s retention rate has risen in recent years to approximately 92.8%, according to the UM 2021-2022 Factbook, its 4-year graduation rate has fallen to 71%. The 6-year graduation rate for the 2015 cohort was 84%.
Another 20% of the ranking looks at faculty resources, primarily regarding class size and faculty salaries. U.S. News uses this as a measure of students’ access to quality professors.
Glassdoor, a popular job finding service, estimates that the median pay for professors at UM is $138,240 per year and the UM 2021-2022 Factbook reports that 92% of classes hold less than 50 students.
These measures are useful in that they are concrete but have led to criticism from various publications, including Forbes and PrepScholar. Other investigations have shown that universities may inflate their statistics, notably in the case of Columbia University.
The ranking also excludes athletics and social life in the calculation on the basis of not being able to accurately report on them.
Schwanewede commented on the value of Miami’s social life. He noted that one could not enjoy the same lifestyle in Gainesville, home to University of Florida, ranked as the top college in Florida.
Niche, another ranking service, gave UM an A+ ranking for “diversity,” “party scene,” “athletics” and an A ranking for “location.” None of these measures contributed to U.S. News’ ranking.
Tharaney, as a business tech major, has appreciated Miami’s location, especially as it grows into a national tech hub.
“The network is unparalleled,” Tharaney said.
He lauded the university for its assistance in helping him find a postgraduate job and win first place in The International Business Ethics Case Competition, an international honor.
Jacqueline Menendez, Vice President for Communications, also referenced alternate measures of success in a statement to The Miami Hurricane.
“The University of Miami continues to focus on enhancing our world-class offerings to provide students with transformative campus experiences, and to engage leading scholars and community partners in innovative research that help solve society’s most complex challenges. We are proud to draw impressive talent to South Florida, to make groundbreaking discoveries, to unite our communities, and to play a critical role in protecting health and wellbeing. Those are our most important measures of success,” Menendez said.
Under former UM President Donna Shalala, the university reached #38 in 2012, holding the ranking of #1 university in Florida. Since that high, UM has varied between the high 40s and mid 50s in its rankings.
In 2021, UM fell from #49 to its current ranking, leaving the top 50 and entering a five-way tie with FSU, Pepperdine University, University of Maryland, University of Washington Rutgers University in News Brunswick and Santa Clara University.