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YSU ranked near bottom of college survey

Youngstown State University is not one of the best-known universities in the United States and is near the bottom of nearly 800 schools ranked in the annual survey by the Wall Street Journal / Times Higher Education.

But those nearly 800 schools are America’s best colleges, according to the publication.

Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Yale are the top three universities in the survey.

The ranking of 797 colleges and universities is based on 15 individual performance indicators and responses from more than 170,000 current college students, collected through Times Higher Education’s annual U.S. student survey, according to the Journal.

It is designed to answer questions, including the likelihood of students graduating; whether they will pay off loans and get good jobs; if the college have plenty of resources to to help the education of students; if students will be stretched in the classroom and get access to their teachers; and if there is a diverse campus community.

YSU spokesman Ron Cole emphasized this survey, like many others, is subjective and generally not intended for mid-sized, affordable, public institutions such as YSU.

“The first public university on the list is at 23, and that’s the University of Michigan,” Cole said. “The other ones are all private and very wealthy institutions — i.e. Harvard has an endowment of nearly $40 billion.

“Our graduation, persistence and retention rates are all on the upswing,” Cole said. “Our graduation numbers continue to rise, and our Honors College is bigger than ever,” Cole noted.

The university’s graduates continue to get good jobs, Cole noted.

“They excel in their careers and become leaders in their communities,” he continued. “At the same time, YSU continues to serve as an important economic and educational engine for the region, with an estimated annual impact of nearly $1 billion.”

The Wall Street Journal / Times Higher Education rankings looked at a variety of measurements, including tuition and student fees, room and board costs, and salaries 10 years after student graduations. The study does not show which colleges are best for which students. That YSU is at the bottom may have as much to do with its financial place in the higher education world as anything else.

In its 2020 survey, Harvard’s tuition and fees were $48,949, its room and board costs were $16,660 and 10 years after graduation, former students earned an average of $92,033. On the other hand, YSU’s tuition and fees were $4,411, its room and board $9,090, and 10 years after graduation, its former students earned an average of $34,500.

The survey also looked at the student-to-faculty ratio, the number of faculty research papers produced, student recommendations, accredited programs, graduation rates, debt at graduation and reputation. It also looked at diversity, both internationally and in diversity of staff and students.

YSU, according to this survey, had a ranking of greater than 600.

“I’m guessing that all of the institutions in the “greater than 600” category were listed alphabetically, which — since we start with a Y — put us as the last one on the list,” Cole said.

YSU, according to the 2020 survey, ranked 153 for engagement and tied for or higher than 400th place for the balance of the metrics. It has 9,824 students and a student-to-faculty ratio of 17-to-1.

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