College rankings

TCU makes the grade as No. 6 school in Texas, says new ranking

TCU makes grade as No. 6 school in Texas, says new ranking

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TCU's academic culture and activities were touted by the magazine.

Alert the admissions office. U.S. News & World Report has ranked Texas Christian University No. 6 in Texas and No. 80 in the nation.

On September 10, the prestigious publication released its anticipated 2019 Best Colleges report, an analysis of more than 1,800 schools across the country. And this year, there's a Texas plot twist.

Nearly a year after U.S. News & World Report crowned the University of Texas at Austin the No. 1 school in the state (and the 32nd best school in the entire world), the magazine's latest rankings have UT losing the top spot to Rice University. UT ranked No. 2 in Texas and No. 49 in the nation, tying with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, University of Wisconsin — Madison, and Villanova University.

What accounts for the shakeup? The answer lies in how the data was weighted. In creating the 2019 Best Colleges ranking, U.S News placed particular emphasis on student outcomes, increasing the weight from 20 percent to 35 percent. For the first year ever, the report even included a metric evaluating how universities graduate high proportions of low-income students.

In comparison, U.S. News researchers compiling last year's global rankings placed more importance on academic outcomes including professional reputation and numbers of publications produced annually.

As college becomes increasingly expensive, analyzing student outcomes is critical, says the publication. "A university is not successful if it does not graduate its students, which is why the Best Colleges rankings place the greatest value on outcomes, including graduation and retention rates," said Robert Morse, chief data strategist at U.S. News, in a release

In 2018, Rice had a six-year graduation rate of 92 percent, earning it the No. 1 spot in Texas and No. 16 in the nation. Compare that to TCU's graduation rate of 78 percent. 

Nationally, TCU tied at No. 80 with Binghampton University and Stony Brook University — SUNY in New York, Yeshiva University in New York City, Colorado School of Mines, and North Carolina State University.

The publication took special note of TCU's academic culture, calling it "vibrant, personal and rigorous, nurturing creative and intellectual thinking within a friendly, inclusive community of support."

It also touted the school's opportunities for involvement.

"There are more than 20 religious organizations for students to join, among more than 200 others," the website says. "Greek life is a popular option, with close to 40 percent of the student body involved in more than 30 fraternities and sororities."

The nation's top schools, however, leaned heavily toward the Ivy League. Princeton University was crowned the best university in the nation followed by Harvard University (No. 2). Columbia University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Chicago, and Yale University all tied for third.

Elsewhere in the Texas rankings, TCU's cross-town rival Southern Methodist University came in at No. 3. Texas A&M University (No. 4) and Baylor University (No. 5) rounded out the top five spots. University of Texas at Dallas ranked No. 7, Dallas Baptist University is No. 10, and University of Texas at Arlington landed at No. 11.