Tulane drops two spots on national college ranking, makes “up-and-coming” and veteran-friendly lists

Kate Jamison and Armando Marin, News Editors

U.S. News and World Report ranked Tulane No. 54 in its annual list of best national universities released Tuesday. This new rank marks a two-position drop from last year. The new rankings also list Tulane as the No. 10 “up-and-coming” school and the No. 5 most veteran-friendly school. 

The ranking system, which U.S. News uses to calculate its overall ranking, analyzes data submitted by admissions offices across the nation. These indicators include freshmen retention rate, class size and the six-year graduation rate. According to this year’s data, Tulane retained 90 percent of freshmen, 64 percent of classes have 20 or fewer students, and 76 percent of students graduate within six years. Tulane shares its number 54 position with George Washington University, Ohio State University-Columbus and Pepperdine University.  

The “up-and-coming” rankings are derived from assessments given to presidents, provosts and admissions personnel from multiple schools. The magazine asked them to name 10 other schools they considered “up-and-coming.” According to U.S. News, this may be in areas of diversity, admissions, campus life, facilities and promoting positive change. Tulane’s No. 10 ranking tied it with Biola University, Drexel University and George Mason University.

Mike Strecker, Executive Director of Public Relations, said that Hurricane Katrina continues to impact Tulane’s ranking. 

“Tulane’s ranking has suffered as a result of Hurricane Katrina, which had a direct impact on our retention and our 6-year graduation rates for several years after the storm,” Strecker said. “In the coming years we will continue to focus on maximizing the Tulane undergraduate experience, which will necessarily improve retention and graduation rates.”

Faye Tydlaska, director of admission and assistant vice president for enrollment management, said New Orleans is a prime location for innovation and attracting students.

“[New Orleans] was recently named one of the best ‘brain magnet’ cities and one of the best places for young entrepreneurs, so I think having the city and university going hand-in-hand is another thing driving [the ranking] as well,” Tydlaska said. 

Sophomore Bianka Northland said she was surprised by Tulane’s rank on the 2015 list. 

“I think it’s interesting that schools like Penn State are ranked higher than us,” Northland said. “We are a small private school, and they are a massive state institution. Kids work harder to get into Tulane. The acceptance rate [at Tulane] continues to go down, and the ranking keeps going down, too. I think the ratings are messed up.”

Junior Nicole Murdocca said the rankings may impact how prospective students view the school.

“When I was looking at schools, I definitely looked at rankings,” Murdocca said. “Even though it’s a small decrease in the ranking proportionally, it still makes a difference. I think it could continue to decrease. We need to step it up.” 

Strecker said that the ranking is a reference for prospective students.  

“U.S. News and World Report is one of many rankings and resources students use to help determine which school is right for them,” Strecker said. “We are glad to be ranked among the top universities in the country in this and other rankings.”

To be eligible to be on the list of the best colleges for veterans, a school must accept some portion of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, be a member of the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges Consortium, and be a participant of the Yellow Ribbon program, which provides additional benefits to veterans. U.S. News derives the ranking in this category from a school’s position on the national overall list, so Tulane is the No. 5 highest ranked university on the national list to meet all these criteria.

Holly DiDomenico, the veterans affairs coordinator in the Office of the Registrar, said veterans are enticed to come to Tulane.

“Tulane has a good reputation, and veterans are excited to attend Tulane, which can accept their GI Bill,” DiDomenico said.   

The Yellow Ribbon program provides an additional $2,000 to the GI Bill cap for eligible veterans and dependents. The graduate business school expanded its Yellow Ribbon program this academic year to fully pay for 25 veteran students. The business school pays the difference between tuition and the amount the GI Bill will pay for graduate degrees. DiDomenico said the purpose of that expansion was to attract high-achieving veteran students. 

“We [expanded the Yellow Ribbon program] to encourage and get more students in the MBA and some of those graduate-level business school programs,” DiDomenico said. “[The program] has been a big help.”