Sep 19th, 2011 @ 11:14 am | Author: Dr. Steve Shirley
Last week, U.S. News released its annual Best Colleges rankings. Valley City State University was ranked as the #1 Public Regional College in the Midwest for 2012. This marks the 14th consecutive year VCSU has been ranked among the top institutions by U.S. News in our category, and the first time VCSU has ever achieved the #1 ranking.

First, a few points of clarification about the ranking methodology and VCSU's category. The Midwest region is comprised of 12 states: North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio. The "Colleges" category is comprised of institutions that focus primarily on undergraduate education and grant fewer than half of their degrees in liberal arts disciplines. The schools in this category also draw the majority of their students from within their surrounding geographic region (hence the term "Regional"). There are a total of 97 colleges and universities that were ranked in the Midwest Regional Colleges category, and of these, 83 are private institutions while 14 are public schools like VCSU. Therefore, among institutions with a similar profile and mission to VCSU in the 12-state Midwest region, VCSU ranked #1 among the 14 public colleges and universities.

The students, faculty, staff, alumni, and supporters of VCSU, along with the entire community, can be proud of this recognition. There are a number of important criteria that go into the overall ranking, including: freshmen retention rate, graduation rate, average class sizes, student/faculty ratio, percentage of faculty who are full-time, average ACT/SAT scores, freshmen in the top 25% of their class, acceptance rate, average alumni giving rate, and peer assessment. These are all important indicators that help demonstrate the quality of the educational environment at VCSU.

Aside from the obvious satisfaction in being ranked #1 (moving up from the #2 ranking each of the past two years and the #4 ranking three years ago), it is also worth emphasizing that VCSU has been named to the U.S. News list for 14 straight years. That represents a wonderful level of consistency and speaks to the strong academic tradition at VCSU.

As U.S. News states, "...the editors of U.S. News believe that students and their families should have as much information as possible about the comparative merits of the educational programs at America's colleges and universities. The data we gather on America's colleges - and the rankings of the schools that arise from these data - serve as an objective guide by which students and their parents can compare the academic quality of schools."

Rankings such as the U.S. News Best Colleges list are neither a perfect system nor an exact science, but they can be one of several very important factors used by prospective students and their families in making college selection decisions.

VCSU is proud to be ranked #1 out of 14 similar public institutions in the Midwest, and we will convey this information in future campus promotional materials. This is a great way to begin the 2011-12 academic year, and the entire campus is excited about the year ahead!