The University of Maine at Farmington is joining a growing list of colleges and universities declining to complete a survey for the U.S. News & World Report rankings of higher-education institutions.
President Theodora Kalikow said the university will not fill out part of the survey asking college presidents to rank their peers. The peer review, which comprises 25 percent of a school’s score, has been criticized as too subjective.
Dozens of schools like the University of Maine at Farmington are skipping that portion of the survey used in the magazine’s “Best American Colleges” report.
Leading the charge is the Annapolis Group, an organization comprised of private liberal arts colleges including Maine’s Colby, Bates and Bowdoin. Those institutions agreed not to use their schools’ rankings in promotional materials.
UMF, along with Bates, Colby and Bowdoin, has fared well in the magazine’s rankings, which are used by students and their families to make decisions about where to apply. But critics say the rankings mislead prospective students and encourage gamesmanship.
UMF, which is a public institution, is not part of the Annapolis Group. But like that group, it will continue to provide the magazine with publicly available data, such as enrollment and college entrance scores, Kalikow said.
Kalikow said Monday that it’s not fair to ask college presidents to rate peers, especially if they have no firsthand information or rely on dated information.
“There’s better information available now about student outcomes,” she said. “It’s time to use that stuff instead of the reputational survey.”
The university has won good reviews in the magazine’s rankings. Last year it was No. 2 in “Top Public Comprehensive Colleges Bachelor’s, in the North.”
Colby, Bates and Bowdoin colleges also fare well in the rankings, consistently placing among the 25 best liberal arts colleges in the country.
Some college students said the efforts by UMF, Bates, Bowdoin and Colby colleges to steer U.S. News’ ratings in a new direction will probably have little effect on the popularity of the magazine’s rankings among prospective students.
Joseph Muscarella, a summer resident of Boothbay Harbor, said he used the rankings to find the school of his choice, the Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina, which he plans to enter this fall.
He said he doubts that the rankings make the process more competitive. “America is always going to be competitive, with these rankings or without,” he said.
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