By DAHLIA SOMERS
It may not come as a surprise that the University of Mary Washington has placed in the top 20 among southern universities in the U.S. News & World Report 2016 edition of America’s Best
Colleges, especially because it is the ninth consecutive year UMW has made the ranks. However, this year is different. It made the set, but the numbers have slipped ever so slightly.
Compared to the 2015 edition, the university has fallen from fifth to sixth place in public
southern universities and from 13th to 16th place among all southern university undergraduate programs in the “Top Public Regional Universities – South” category.
Creating the ranks and its numbers is not a random occurrence. It calculates a number of influences.
The U.S. News & World Report uses up to 16 different measures to calculate the academic quality of colleges and universities.
The company mainly bases its rankings on undergraduate academic reputation, graduation rates, retention rates, faculty resources, financial resources, alumni giving and graduation rate performance. Each ranking indicator is then scored and given a weighted percentage before arriving at the final report.
Junior biology major Chris Thornburg states that the school’s decline in rank is not, in his opinion, a reflection of any notable change from last year to this year.
“I think it’s great that we are ranked so high,” Thornburg said. “I feel like the drop in rank can’t really be pinpointed to one specific category of the ranking. From my account this school is still as great as it was when I came here.”
In addition, the university has continued to receive academic acclaim by being named in selective guidebooks such as The Princeton Review’s 2016 edition of “The Best 380 Colleges” and Forbes’ “2016 list of America’s Top Colleges.”
Students are prompted to attend UMW for various reasons.
For instance, senior business major Jessica Wu chose the university because of its reasonable tuition cost and close proximity to her home. After she began attending the university from her hometown in Herndon, Wu stated she felt connected to the school because of the academics and the professors.
“I am very happy to be a part of the business program because the professors want to help me succeed,” Wu said.
Christa Snyder, also a senior business major, experienced a positive environment from the professors and students at UMW as well.
“When I transferred schools, it was between UMW and Longwood. Both were in a similar price range and are about the same distance from my home,” Snyder said. “After visiting both schools, it became clear that UMW had a much more welcoming community with more activities, and the close proximity to DC sealed the deal for me.”
According to Peterson’s, a company that examines and researches colleges around the country, 89 percent of UMW students are in-state.
Students of UMW are captivated by qualities that are valued more than rankings and statistics.