USC slips in ranking; Clemson in top 25
Columbia — Despite rising average SAT scores and graduation rates, the University of South Carolina’s rankings in U.S. News & World Report’s annual college report slid this year.
USC placed 115th among all schools nationally, public and private, down four spots from a year ago. It ranked 55th among public universities, down one position, according to the magazine’s rankings released Wednesday.
Clemson University held its top-25 ranking among national public universities for a fifth straight year.
USC’s rankings were hurt by a small drop in peer-review assessments from other college leaders, USC Provost Michael Amiridis said.
U.S. News’ data also showed the percentage of classes at USC with fewer than 20 students fell, as did the school’s rankings among high school guidance counselors.
On the plus side, the school’s student-faculty ratio improved, as did its six-year graduation rate, up to 70 percent from 67.5 percent in the latest years available, according to university data. Average SAT scores rose 14 points in the past year to 1199.
Amiridis said he is happy with the school’s core performance. He added that the school will try to show off new programs that could bolster its reputation, since peer review accounts for more than 20 percent of the ratings.
Those programs include USC Connect, which provides out-of-classroom experiences for students, and Palmetto College, which will provide online courses to students at USC’s regional campuses.
“We need to share our message better in the national media,” Amiridis said. “You need to take some risks (with new programs) to become more widely known.”
As an example, Amiridis said USC worked to build its undergraduate international business major, ranked the nation’s best for the 16th consecutive year. That helped the Darla Moore School of Business overall, which moved up one spot to 40th among business programs nationwide.
“This continued leadership in international business education is a tribute to faculty and staff who are dedicated to an innovative, responsive curriculum,” said Moore School Dean Hildy Teegen, who is stepping down next year.
How others fared
Clemson’s rankings stayed the same from last year — 68th overall nationally among public and private universities and 25th among public schools. Clemson ranked again in the top 10 among up-and-coming schools based on peer reviews.
A pair of USC regional campuses were ranked Nos. 1 and 2 among public regional colleges in the South. USC-Aiken again took the top spot, and USC-Upstate rose one position to second. USC-Beaufort remained eighth.
The Citadel topped Southern regional public universities for a second year, while the College of Charleston was fourth and Winthrop was seventh.
S.C. State gained a spot among historically black colleges to 14th and two positions overall among public universities to 77th. Neighboring Claflin University was unchanged at eighth among historically black colleges.
Columbia College fell to 74th from 56th last year among Southern universities, while Columbia International University jumped to 56th from 80th.
U.S. News’ rankings are dismissed by some academics as arbitrary, but they have become one of the key guides that students and parents use in choosing a school.