College-bound high school students surveyed by a national market research firm have placed Ithaca College at the top of their rankings. The students rated Ithaca as the "best" in the northern region of the United States.
Ithaca is also the institution in the north that the most respondents are planning to apply to, making the College the "most popular" in the region.
Conducted by Carnegie Communications, a firm that works exclusively with educational institutions, the independent survey was designed to determine whether the formulas used by popular publications to assess the quality of colleges and universities correspond with the factors students themselves use to evaluate quality.
A diverse group of nearly 4,000 college-bound high school students from across the United States participated in Project Connect, an annual study conducted by Carnegie Communications on a variety of topics related to the marketing of higher education. Respondents completed a comprehensive online survey containing questions about the institutional attributes they most value, the national and regional institutions they perceive to be the "best" at the national and regional levels, and their own individual application plans.
While Ithaca College placed well in the 2004 edition of "America's Best Colleges" by U.S. News and World Report -- ranking seventh among regional colleges and universities in the north -- the results of the Carnegie study are even more impressive. Among the high school students who participated in the survey and live in the north, Ithaca College was identified as the best institution overall and was the institution to which the most students intended to apply for admission.
"The U.S. News rankings rely on a series of characteristics that don't necessarily correspond with what college-bound high school students think are the most important measures of quality," says Elizabeth Scarborough, vice president of strategic marketing services at Carnegie Communications.
The surveyed students placed student-to-faculty ratio as the best indicator of a college's quality, while U.S. News and World Report only counts that factor as 1 percent of an institution's ranking score. Alumni giving, which students feel is the least important of the factors tested, accounts for 5 percent of the magazine's rank, so that the factor students feel is least important is weighted five times more heavily than the one students feel is most important.
And though the magazine places the greatest weight for its rankings on peer assessment of academic excellence -- the opinions of college presidents, deans, and provosts about colleges other than their own -- Project Connect respondents rated the average SAT/ACT scores of enrolling students, the proportion of faculty who are full-time teachers, and the four-year graduation rate as equally important. U.S. News weighs peer assessment greater than all three of those factors added together.
"Unlike the U.S. News rankings, which are based on a series of variables the magazine decides are important to measure, Project Connect sought the opinions of those who are actually preparing to go to college,” says Scarborough.
More information on the Project Connect survey is available at www.carnegiecomm.com.
Contributed by Dave Maley