CONNOR LUCE / THE EAGLE
AU received its highest ranking ever on the U.S. News and World Report’s annual “Best Colleges” list.
The University moved up five places to number 77 out of 218 schools. AU ranked 82 last year.
AU shares the 77th place ranking with:
• Baylor University in Texas,
• SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in New York,
• Colorado School of Mines and
• University of Alabama.
“The 2013 ranking reflects a modest improvement … and it reflects the growing recognition of AU’s quality,” Media Relations Associate Director Maralee Csellar said in an email.
AU is considered in the National Colleges category of U.S. News and World Report. Schools in this category offer bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D.’s, and encourage faculty research, according to U.S. News and World Report’s website.
U.S. News and World Report measures universities based on:
• graduation and retention ranks,
• faculty resources,
• peer assessment,
• graduation rate performance,
• high school counselor opinions of the school,
• student selectivity,
• financial resources and
• alumni giving.
“In recent years, AU has significantly reduced the freshman admit[tance] rate, improved retention and graduation, increased alumni donations [and] hired new faculty,” Csellar said in an email.
Csellar said AU’s WONK campaign helped increase the ratings.
“And it should be noted that our brand strategy has specifically focused on raising awareness and improving perceptions of quality among key audiences, including higher education peers and high school guidance counselors,” she said.
The publication also ranked AU as a top ten school for debt at graduation last year.
As of 2011, AU’s graduating class had $37,674 in debt per student. Of the graduating class, 58 percent borrowed money.
However, not all schools accurately report their debt. Some universities choose to not disclose private loans, federal parents PLUS loans, or other alternative loans when reporting student debt, The Eagle previously reported.