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U.S. News & World Report ranks USC above UCLA

By Crystal Hsing

Aug. 30, 2010 1:44 a.m.

Recent posts on the USC discussion forum at College Confidential, a popular website that offers college admissions counseling, have been littered with congratulations.

“Woot! Congrats USC!” reads one post. Countless others follow, all celebrating a USC victory over UCLA that has nothing to do with football.

On Aug. 17, USC surpassed UCLA in the U.S. News & World Report annual college rankings, ranking 23rd among national universities in a tie with Carnegie Mellon University, while UCLA shares the 25th spot with Wake Forest University and the University of Virginia.

UCLA fell one spot from the 2010 rankings while USC rose three spots from 26th place.

“One must give all recognition to USC’s progress in improving the quality of their institution in recent years,” said UCLA Associate Vice Chancellor Lawrence Lokman. “Their work is reflected in the rankings, and we have to congratulate them on their progress.”

The U.S. News & World Report ranks colleges based on an annual survey that gathers data on up to 16 factors, including undergraduate academic reputation, freshman retention rate, faculty resources, school selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving rate.

This year, U.S. News & World Report factored the opinions of high school counselors into the ranking calculations for the first time as part of the undergraduate academic reputation measure, which was previously calculated using data taken from a peer assessment survey of college presidents, provosts and deans.

In light of the U.S. News & World Report’s methodology, these rankings must be kept in perspective as the measures tend to favor private universities, which generally have much larger endowments than public universities, Lokman said.

“In past years, all the top public research universities except UCLA have slipped somewhat,” he said. “UCLA is incredibly strong and continues to be, even despite the budget crisis.”

Lokman added that UCLA remains a strong contender on other equally qualified rankings. UCLA ranked third in the Washington Monthly’s 2010 rankings of national universities, which ranks based on social mobility, research and service. The Academic Ranking of World Universities, also known as the Shanghai rankings, ranks more than 1,000 world universities on factors such as number of Nobel Prize winners among alumni and staff and number of articles published in the journals Nature and Science. These rankings place UCLA 13th, with USC in the 46th spot.

“We’re not showing any sour grapes here,” Lokman said. “In the end, the city wins when we have two outstanding research universities, one public and one private.”

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