August 22, 2005

Cornell Risin'

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For Cornell, it’s lucky 13.

For the first time in five years, Cornell University’s overall ranking in U.S. News and World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges” feature rose, creating a tie for 13th place with Johns Hopkins University. Topping the list this year, as they did last year, are Harvard and Princeton which tied for the first spot on the list. The University of Pennsylvania sits in fourth place, with Columbia and Dartmouth tying for the ninth spot.

Unlike last year, Cornell was not the lowest-ranking Ivy League school, as Brown dropped from number 13 to number 15.

“It’s always nice when you move up in someone’s estimation, but it would be difficult for any ranking system to rate the educational opportunities at Cornell,” said Simeon Moss ’73, Cornell’s press office director.

“Those who follow these rankings will note that we only went up one spot, but this does show that the gaps are small between the schools,” said Heather Grantham ’06, chair of the Image Committee.

Although Cornell’s ranking rose this year, some believe that a bigger jump is on the horizon. “What appears [in the admissions statistics] is from last year. There is a one year lag between in what U.S. News publishes in terms of admissions,” said Peter S. Cohl ’05, former chair of the Image Committee and chair of the Alumni Image Committee.

“There will be a bigger jump next year because the admissions rate has tightened,” he said. “The most significant thing is that these rankings don’t really reflect recent changes of the University’s image,” said Danny Cohen grad, alumni co-chair of the Image Committee.

“This years rise will create momentum for next year, and you need momentum to make progress,” Cohen said.

Cohl said that there were things that Cornell could do in order to make its ranking move even higher in the years to come.

“They need to increase selectivity, reduce class size and improve the alumni giving rate,” he said.

Specifically, he said, Cornell needs to attract more of the best students by making enrollment more of a challenge.

“The hottest students apply to the schools they can’t get into,” Cohl said.

“We maintain that manageable incremental changes can elevate Cornell into the top 10 where we belong,” Grantham said.

Still, the University maintains that the magazine’s rankings do not accurately show a schools educational value.

“It’s difficult and almost impossible to devise metrics that show that a University is the right place for a specific student,” Moss said.

Archived article by Eric Finkelstein
Sun Managing Editor