An online survey of 3,787 college-bound high school students conducted by Carnegie Communications, a higher education marketing and communications firm, found they ranked Xavier best overall among 139 Midwest master's-level schools as well as ranking it the most desirable institution to attend.
"This is a very strong statement about Xavier," says Marc Camille, the University's dean for admission. "The U.S. News rankings are based on a survey filled out by presidents, provosts and admission deans. But this survey tells us what the marketplace thinks. They think we're the best and most desirable place to be. I think that says a lot about Xavier. Those are two great ways for us to be viewed."
The Carnegie rankings are also a better indicator of where students will apply than U.S. News' rankings, says Elizabeth Scarborough, vice president for strategic marketing services at Carnegie.
Carnegie asked the students to define "quality" when applied to a college or university. It then took that information and used it to recalculate the annual study done by U.S. New & World Report in its "Best Colleges and Universities in America" issue.
Each year U.S. News assembles a ranking of the best colleges and universities in the country that is considered one of the most important indicators of status in higher education. It has regularly come under fire, however, from a number of organizations that claim it is nonscientific and misleading.
The magazines rankings are based on a variety of criteria which are weighted according to what the magazines editors determine to be of greater or lesser value. Peer assessment is the most valued, carrying 25 percent of the overall value, according to U.S. News editors, while a school's student/faculty ratio carries the lowest value of 1 percent.
Based on these criteria, Xavier ranked sixth on the list of masters-level colleges and universities in the Midwest this year. The University has ranked as high as third in the Midwest and has been on the lists top 10 for nine straight years.
Carnegie, however, placed the weighting of the categories in the hands of the students, asking them to rank the criteria in the order they felt was most important to least important. Student/faculty ratiothe lowest by U.S. Newswas rated as the most important by the students, followed by peer assessment.
These were followed by average SAT/ACT test scores, proportion of faculty who are full-time, four-year graduation rate, percentage of freshmen in the top 25 percent of their class, percent of students the college accepts, freshman retention rate, proportion of classes with less than 20 students and alumni giving rate.
The recalculated scores placed Xavier atop the best list, followed by Drake University, Butler University, Valparaiso University, the University of Evansville, Bradley University, John Carroll University and Creighton University.
Xavier was also atop the most desirable list, followed by the University of Evansville, Butler University, Drake University, the University of Indianapolis, Bradley University, Valparaiso University and Creighton University.