Why San Diego State University Is Soaring Higher On The U.S. News Rankings

U.S. News & World Report’s
2014 college rankings came out today, and while there wasn’t much change from last year, one school continued its steady climb higher.

As the Washington Post points out, San Diego State University has made a huge leap forward in the rankings over the past few years, from 183 in 2011 to 165 in 2012 to 152 this year.

This year, U.S. News increased the importance of graduation and retention rates by 2.5% in its rankings, two indicators in which SDSU sits just outside the top 100 universities in each category. Both SDSU’s 86% retention rate and 67% graduation rate are several points higher than many of its peer institutions ranked above 150 overall.

SDSU also has strong numbers regarding student debt, the San Diego Union-Tribune points out.

“With the cost of college remaining a big issue in higher education, the magazine also tracked graduates’ debt levels, with SDSU ranked No. 11 for least debt. U.S. News & World Report said 56 per cent of San Diego State’s graduates are debt-free, and that the average student debt on that campus was $US17,600,” the UT reports.

Additionally, U.S. News notes that “Private giving to SDSU has also risen sharply in recent years, [with] $US70 million in the 2010-11 fiscal year. SDSU is currently conducting its first university-wide fundraising campaign and has raised more than $US300 million toward its $US500 goal to attract and retain top faculty, support innovation and research and provide more student scholarships.”

This distinct rise in fundraising and spending could influence SDSU’s ranking though “financial resources” and “alumni giving rate” — 10% and 5% of U.S. New’s algorithm, respectively.

SDSU ranked ninth on Business Insider’s list of “Most Underrated Colleges” earlier this year, and we noted that “The school has obtained over $US150 million for research, allowing students to get real hands-on experience that will help them succeed in the real world.”

In 2010, SDSU’s president told the UT that this money is helping to advance both the school’s teaching and research capabilities as state funding has slowed.

“It has been a wonderful thing in terms of the learning opportunities for our students, and it has enriched our laboratories with the kind of equipment that the state of California is less and less able to support,” he said.

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