TCU named among nation’s best colleges

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    TCU officials welcomed the school’s ranking this year among “America’s Best Colleges” by U.S. News and World Report, but said the ranking that is most important is in the minds of the students and the experiences each one takes with them after graduation.Ranked 97 for 2006, TCU climbed the polls one spot from last year, Nowell Donovan, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, said.

    Chancellor Victor Boschini said: “I am thrilled that we are, once again, considered in the top 100 universities nationwide. More importantly than the rankings, I want the members of the TCU community to believe that they are associated with the best university possible.”

    Some faculty and students said that being ranked is good but it is not as important as the education and experiences each student takes with him or her after graduation.

    “The only ranking I really want to work toward, would be the No. 1 spot in the minds of our students,” Boschini said.

    The ranking given by U.S. News is determined by criteria such as peer assessment, faculty-to-student ratio and graduation and retention rates.

    Angela Taylor, associate dean of student development, said U.S. News uses data gathered in the National Survey of Student Engagement as a part of its report.

    There is also a Faculty Survey of Student Engagement, which surveys the expectations of student engagement from a faculty member’s point of view.

    The national student survey categorizes its results into five national benchmarks, including level of academic challenge, student-faculty interaction and enriching educational experiences.

    “If we work toward the effectiveness of education,” Taylor said, “the rank will come.”

    Taylor also said that when advocating educational experiences, such as study abroad and eCollege, the university should help the student interpret what he or she will take away from the experience.

    “Because it’s not just the experience, it’s the process by which the student applies the knowledge he or she gains from that experience to the real world,” Taylor said.

    Some students said they were not even aware that U.S. News ranked TCU.

    “I don’t look at rankings,” Tiffany Thornton, a senior social work major, said. “But I am proud that TCU is ranked 97; it reinforces what I know and love about this university.”

    Donovan said the rank depends on the individual’s perception.

    “I see us as being in the middle of the pack in the second tier,” Donovan said. “Most of the schools ranked above us are Ivy-League or huge state schools with medical or law schools.”

    Rice University, Southern Methodist University and Baylor University are all ranked above TCU.

    Alex Dodds, a senior philosophy major, is another student who does not pay attention to rankings.

    “Rankings don’t really have anything to do with what’s going on in the classroom,” Dodds said.

    Dodds and Thornton said rather than a rank, they are more interested in location, programs and size of the university.

    Moving up in rank is a secondary goal, Donovan said.

    “We have a wish to be higher in the ranking, but the real value of TCU cannot be expressed as a ranking,” he said.