Friday, August 20, 2004

Lehigh Ranked #37: U.S. News

Lehigh continues to climb incrementally on the U.S. News rankings. This year Lehigh's ranking is 37 out of 250.

Lehigh benefits from a very good student-teacher ratio, has a good endowment, and SAT scores that have been inching up in recent years. SAT scores will likely come and go, but the student-teacher ratio is probably one of Lehigh's biggest long-term advantages. Lehigh is private and small -- in terms of size, it probably has more in common with Liberal Arts Colleges like Mt. Holyoke or Lafayette, than with the giants it is currently compared to, like Penn State, Rutgers, Indiana, and UIUC. Lehigh gets put on the main list with those big "Research I" universities because it offers a number of Ph.D. programs (including one in English). There's still a bit of a grey zone: I'm not sure why Lehigh is counted as a research university while schools like Bucknell or Colgate (both technically "universities") are counted as LACs.

Another question comes up. Are we really better than:

41. Georgia Institute of Technology *
42. University of California – Davis *
43. Tulane University (LA)
University of California – Irvine *
45. Univ. of California – Santa Barbara *
46. Rensselaer Polytechnic Inst. (NY)
University of Texas – Austin *
University of Washington *
Yeshiva University (NY)
50. Pennsylvania State U. – University Park *
University of Florida *
52. George Washington University (DC)

The answer is 'yes,' if you're looking for good student-teacher ratios, retention and graduation rates, and research money (mainly in the sciences and engineering). But, it might be arguable if you're looking for things that U.S. News isn't interested in, such as 1) the size of the library, 2) breadth of offerings, or 3) name-recognition. The one I pay most attention to is breadth of offerings, since that is the most easily remedied: you currently can't take Hindi at Lehigh, and Arabic is available -- at the beginner level only -- through a consortium program; the classics department is one person; there's no linguistics; and there's no dedicated art history major. All stuff that can be improved!


Blogger Rob Breymaier said...

It does seem like universities like Lehigh should not be compared to U of Washington. They are just qualitatively different types of colleges.

I would really appreciate an index for library size and variety of journals available. That makes such a difference. For instance, the U of IL at Chicago is sort of a middle rank university but it has a large library with a lot of journal titles. That counts for something doesn't it.

Especially in geography, a prospective Ph.D. student needs to investigate these things because many college libraries don't get some of the most important geojournals. Almost eevryone gets the Annals of the AAG and the Prof. Geog. but many fewer get Antipode, Cultural Geogrpahy, Progress in Human Geography, and Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. Quite frankly, all of thos ear ebetter than the two "official" geography journals that the AAG publishes.

I imagine the same is true for other disciplines to a lesser degree.

10:56 AM  
Blogger chutry said...

Why the asterix (asterices?) next to certain colleges (including Georgia Tech)? Those evaluations are a bit tricky in my opinion, and I'd guess that Tech may have been hurt by the size of its library, by diversity of coursework, and by student retention. It's a relatively small university, so I'm guessing Tech's student-teacher ratio isn't as bad as many other Research I universities. Interesting list, though.

1:21 PM  
Blogger Amardeep said...

I should have provided a link to the U.S. News site. The asterisks come from them: "* denotes a public school.

11,000 undergrads isn't that small. By comparison, Lehigh has 4,500 undergrads and 1,500 grads. Also, Georgia Tech -- a great institution in my opinion -- is relatively inexpensive, especially in-state. I doubt there are any private schools on the list with tuition under $20K.

I don't even know if U.S. News is considering library size or diversity of course offerings. Those are on *my* wish-list...

3:27 PM  
Blogger Amardeep said...

Chuck: One more thing, for people in film Lehigh has the following disadvantage over a school like Georgia Tech:

Number of books, serial backfiles, and other material including government documents: 1,131,802
Number of microforms: 1,708,118
Number of audiovisual materials: 4,348GEORGIA TECH:
Number of books, serial backfiles, and other material including government documents: 2,089,109
Number of microforms: 4,384,424
Number of audiovisual materials: 328,983Aha.

3:42 PM  
Blogger Anjali Taneja said...

(ok this is long...sorry!)

Thanks for the post about the rankings and your take on them, Amardeep. As a graduate of Lehigh, I'm happy to see it rising up in the rankings. I agree, small class size is SO key to the learning at Lehigh. The research facilities also are pretty amazing, in a variety of fields.

I think Lehigh balances on a fine line between tech/engineering/business college and liberal arts college. It's definitely known for its engineering and business and "pre-professional" attitude. But it's liberal arts departments are real strong too...though one of my majors, International Relations, only had 7 or 8 faculty members (and therefore a lack of courses on several major IR topics).

I don't like the US News rankings -- from what I remember, they're based on either research $$ coming in (which can or may not affect the quality of teaching...versus things like small teacher/student ratios). Or they're based on deans self-rating their schools (that's how med schools do it in the US News reports) and that just throws the credibility of the whole rating system out the window. And what really matters in colleges for undergrads? Well for me -- diversity of the student body (seriously lacking at lehigh), availability of faculty (super dooper at lehigh), diversity of courses and majors offered (lehigh's got a nice diversity, and growing), success (in various fields, not just grad schools) of its alumni (not sure on this one, but it seems lehigh's doing pretty well), the strength of student run organizations (lehigh's got a bunch), and the seamlessness of the college with the real life around it (lehigh is frankly pretty walled off from the town it's in, and some may argue that's great, but i think it's important for students to be aware of and involved in the community around them).

At the same time, there's NOTHING like getting up in the morning, walking across campus to class, and passing some of the most beautiful (and varied) architecture on the way.

4:04 PM  
Blogger pushkar said...

Dear Amardeep,
How will you rank Lehigh as a Graduate institute for Chemistry Studies? Also I would like to know how the public schools are different than Private Universities? (Apart from that Public Schools get funding from the State and Private Universities needs to generate the same)

8:44 AM  

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