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ACU Home > Major Events > News > 2004 News Archive > Carnegie Study says ACU under-rated

National study says ACU significantly under-rated in U.S. News rankings

For immediate release
Feb. 11, 2003

A new report from Carnegie Communications lists Abilene Christian University as one of the three most under-rated universities in the 15-state West region of the United States.

Universities in the "most under-rated" category were those with the greatest difference between the rankings published in the 2004 U.S. News & World Report’s "Best Colleges" guidebook and those found in Carnegie Communication's national study of college-bound students.

"ACU has been consistently ranked among the best universities by U.S. News, and we were pleased to learn that college-bound students perceive our quality as even higher than the most popular college rankings guidebook," said Dr. Royce Money, ACU president.  "At ACU, we challenge students to excel academically, but we also equip them to become leaders and strengthen them for service to others.  That's an unusual combination."

In the 2004 U.S. News rankings, published in fall 2003, ACU ranked in the top tier of quality among regional universities at No. 21.  In Carnegie’s study of college-bound students conducted in July and August 2003, ACU ranked 10th in quality (11 places higher than U.S. News) and 12th in popularity.  The popularity value ranks institutions according to the number of students who are planning to apply to the institution.

"There were many glaring differences between the way U.S. News rankings position regional universities and the way students perceive their quality," the study reported.

The three universities from the West region listed as most under-rated are ACU, California State Polytechnic-Pomona and California State-Chico.

The research results indicate that the "Carnegie rank" is strongly correlated with the popularity ranking.  "This means that overall, an institution's Carnegie rank is a much better indicator of the number of applications an institution is likely to receive than the same school's U.S. News ranking," the study reported.

Only two Texas universities were ranked in Carnegie's study of students in the top 10 of universities in the West region: ACU and Trinity University.  The University of Texas at Austin was also ranked in the "most under-rated" category among national universities.

ACU is a private, selective university that enrolls more than 4,700 students from nearly every state and 40 countries.  It is classified as a Master’s I university, indicating an emphasis on undergraduate education with a significant number of master's programs.

In the survey of 4,000 students by Carnegie Communications, 58 percent of respondents were high school juniors, 35 percent were sophomores, and 6 percent were seniors.  Eighty-two percent attended public schools, and 18 percent attended private schools.  Virtually all (99 percent) indicated they were seeking to enroll in a four-year college or university.

Student survey respondents completed an online survey that included questions about the institutional attributes they most value, the national and regional institutions they perceive to be of the highest quality, and their own individual application plans.

The report by Carnegie is titled "College Rankings: Truth or Hype?"  The complete report includes an analysis of U.S. News rankings and describes students' perceptions of the attributes used to determine those rankings.  Carnegie Communications is located in Westford, Mass., and it conducts annual studies addressing popular issues related to the marketing of higher education.

The report presents findings from "Project Connect 2003," research that was conducted to explore the extent to which U.S. News rankings actually influence student perceptions of quality.

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Last Update: December 17, 2007
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