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ND ranks among top 20

Amanda Gray | Thursday, October 7, 2010

Notre Dame moved up one spot in U.S. News & World Report’s recent list of best universities, passing Emory University to claim No. 19.

Rice University and Vanderbilt University were just ahead of Notre Dame at No. 17, and Harvard University reclaimed the top spot in the rankings.

University spokesman Dennis Brown said while the ranking serves a purpose, the University is publicly skeptical about its evaluation system.

“While we recognize that the U.S. News & World Report survey serves a useful function for some prospective students and their parents, we are on record for more than 15 years as having reservations about its methodology,” Brown said in a statement. “That said, we believe that by any measure Notre Dame is among the nation’s top 25 undergraduate institutions.”

The U.S. News & World Report website said a college education is one of the most important and costly investments that prospective students will make.

“For this reason, the editors of U.S. News believe that students and their families should have as much information as possible about the comparative merits of the educational programs at America’s colleges and universities,” the website stated.

Each school is ranked in 16 areas of academic excellence, the website said. These scores are combined into a “composite weighted score,” which is used to determine rankings.

“Regardless of rankings, we also are confident that Notre Dame is second to none in providing an extraordinary undergraduate experience, engaging in research that improves the human condition and serving the Church and society,” Brown said.

U.S. News & World Report also recently released a list of the top 10 universities where applying early can increase a prospective student’s chance of acceptance. Notre Dame was listed fifth, behind Cornell University.

“This may cause some to think that it’s easier to get admitted by applying early,” Brown said. “The reality is that we do have a higher acceptance rate for early action applicants, although that alone does not tell the whole story.”

In Fall 2009, there was a 42 percent acceptance rate during early action, while the regular action applicant pool had a 23 percent acceptance rate, a U.S. News & World Report press release stated.

Brown said this discrepancy occurred because of a difference in the quality of the applicant pools.

“The academic quality of the early-action admitted students is considerably stronger. That’s why we encourage students to apply early if, and we emphasize if, they have a superior academic record,” Brown said. “Otherwise, it’s best to get the best possible test scores and grades into your file before applying in the regular action cycle at the end of December.”

Also published is a list of national universities as ranked by high school counselors from high school’s on U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best High Schools” list. Notre Dame was ranked No. 13 by this group of counselors, tied with five other schools.

Notre Dame also sits among the top five schools with the highest four-year graduation rates, according to U.S. News & World Report.