By Denise Dick
Youngstown State University made Forbes’ annual list of “America’s Top Colleges” at second to last – and officials are upbeat about being included in the prestigious ranking.
YSU ranks 649th of 650 schools on the list released Wednesday by the magazine, in partnership with the Center for College Affordability and Productivity.
Coastal Carolina University in Conway, S.C., is No. 650.
There are more than 2,000 four-year colleges and universities in the country.
YSU President Jim Tressel points out that this puts the school near the top 20 percent of colleges and universities.
“It’s also where I think we have been” on the list, he said.
In 2013, YSU ranked No. 628 on the list. It ranked 625th in 2012. Tressel said he believes the university was at 640 last year.
The data collected to compile the list are based on the past few years, he noted.
“I think if you were to look at the [open] access universities, you’d have them in the 550 to 650 range,” he said.
The president said he hopes to see the ranking climb next year and thereafter.
“If we would shoot for, in the next three or four years, moving into the 500s, I would say we’ve made some great progress,” Tressel said.
Ron Cole, a university spokesman, offered a similar view.
“We continually strive to improve and to increase excellence in everything we do across all segments of the institution,” he said. “There are more than 2,000 universities and colleges in the country so that means two-thirds of colleges and universities didn’t even make it on the list. Only the top one-third are actually on the list.”
Cole said the ranking is positive for YSU.
“To be included on a list that’s titled ‘top colleges’ is also something that’s worthy of attention,” Cole said.
He said there are many lists from many different websites and publications – many of which rank YSU high.
YSU is last among the 31 four-year Ohio colleges and universities on the list. Two-year institutions aren’t part of the ranking.
Ranking is based upon return on investment and uses five main criteria, according to the magazine’s website: student satisfaction, 25 percent; postgraduate success, 32.5 percent; student debt, 25 percent; graduation rate, 7.5 percent; and academic success, 10 percent.
For the postgraduate-success element, salaries of alumni by school were determined by Payscale.com, but “because success isn’t just about money, we reward schools where the establishment, influencers and innovators received their degrees,” the website said.
Student success is based on student evaluations on RateMyProfessor.com. It also considers in the calculation the number of students who transfer out of schools.
Overall, Ohio’s state universities rank toward the bottom of the list of the top.
Kent State University came in at 25th in Ohio and 599th in the country, and the University of Akron ranked 26th in Ohio and 607th nationally.
The highest-ranking Ohio public university is Ohio State University at No. 6 in the state and 155th nationally.
Oberlin College in Oberlin and Kenyon College in Gambier rank first and second in Ohio and 46 and 48 in the country, respectively. Denison University in Granville is third in Ohio and 96th in the country, and Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland is fourth in Ohio and 113th in the U.S.
The College of Wooster ranked fifth in the state and 140th in the nation.
The school ranked highest in the country is Pomona College in California, followed by Williams College in Massachusetts, Stanford University in California, Princeton University in New Jersey and Yale University in Connecticut.