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Rice ranked 17th best college for the eighth time

By Hallie Jordan     9/14/11 7:00pm

Rice University ranked number 17 on the U.S. News & World Report's list of best colleges for the eighth consecutive year.

The ranking is based on academic quality, as measured by peer assessment, retention rates for returning freshmen, graduation rates, student to faculty ratio, classroom sizes, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, alumni giving and high school counselor ratings of colleges.

"We are pleased that we continue to be in the top 20," Vice President for Finance Kathy Collins said. "From a reputational standpoint as we compete for students and faculty it serves us well," Collins said.

Though she said she was happy with the ranking, Collins said she hopes Rice can move up in the future and that they do influence both potential faculty and students.

Rice has tied with Vanderbilt University for 17th place from among the 280 colleges ranked. Rice trails Cornell University and Brown University, which both tied for 15th place. Harvard was ranked first.

The U.S. News & World Report takes all of the criteria and turns them into numeric scores. Rice was given an 84 out of 100, whereas Brown and Cornell each scored 87, Collins said.

"It's not that there is a huge gap to close, but it's a competitive one," Collins said. "Part of the challenge with rankings is that we don't know what our peer universities are doing to receive their rankings."

The ranking can help prospective students who know about Rice but are somewhat unsure about their interest in the school decide to apply, Vice President for Enrollment Chris Munoz said.

"Primarily it helps students who are already considering Rice but are maybe not as familiar with us; it's a way of qualifying quality," Munoz said. "It's not going to making the applicant pool grow, but it is a score that affirms Rice."

Although rankings are important, Collins said, the university does not actively pursue them with the sole goal of moving upward.

"We try to do things that make academic sense but also help with rankings," Collins said.

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