Tufts was ranked the 28th overall best national university and 15th in admission selectivity in this year’s U.S. News & World Report’s rankings.
According to Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Lee Coffin, the selectivity scores, which are based off of statistics from the class of 2016, accurately reflect the success of the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.
“It just gives you a reflection of the quality of our entering class as it relates to these other places in the top 50,” Coffin said.
Information on the best overall ranking, however, is skewed by a variety of factors, Coffin said.
“Overall rank doesn’t change a whole lot because the biggest weight is the peer assessment,” Coffin said.
Coffin explained that peer assessment is calculated by a vote collected from the president, provost and dean of admissions from every university on the list. According to him, many of the universities do not know much about Tufts, which greatly affects the rankings.
Coffin believes if the small liberal arts colleges in the NESCAC conference were able to vote in the ranking, the scores would change dramatically.
“I think the rankings are misunderstood by many people, and that is unfortunate,” Coffin said. “If you are just using [overall ranking] as a window into undergraduate admissions, you have to boil off alumni giving and financial resources rank and just focus on the guidance counselor survey, the SAT means, the class rank and the acceptance rank, and that is where we have grown.”
College selectivity ranks, on the other hand, are more accurate, Coffin said. These scores are based off a variety of statistics, including the middle 50 percent of SAT scores, the number of students who ranked in the top 10 percent of their high school and the university’s acceptance rate.
This marks the second year in a row that Tufts has been ranked at No. 28 in the category of best national universities after Tufts successfully rose from its rank at No. 29 during the summer of 2012.
Other flaws in U.S. News & World Report’s calculations include the fact that there is no measurement for each school’s diversity or accessibility.
“You could easily say what percentage of the first-year class are the first generation to go to college,” Coffin said. “But that is not here. U.S. News, as one magazine, didn’t see that as criteria to include.”
Next year, the statistics from the class of 2017 will be calculated in the rankings, and although Tufts’ overall ranking might not change, the scores for selectivity probably will, Coffin said.
“We had record highs in all of our SATs, the freshmen at the top 10 [percentile] is the same and the acceptance rate went down three points,” he said.
Overall, Coffin is optimistic about the work at the admissions office and its reflection in the rankings. In the future he hopes Admissions will be able to build on previous successes.
“It’s a deliberate, strategic effort from my office to say, ‘How do we build on last year’s success and do it again?'” Coffin said.