By Kyle Thompson
How does BYU rank among the best schools in the nation? It depends whom you ask.
In the Sept. 11 issue of U.S. News and World Report, BYU was ranked in the second tier of national universities. Unofficially, BYU was rated number 78 in the nation. But things get a little confusing from there.
BYU’s “academic reputation” was rated three point one on a scale of one to five.
The University of Utah received a rating of three point two on the same scale.
On the other hand, according to the Princeton Review, BYU’s academics rated 83 on a scale of one to 100.
University of Utah was rated at 68.
“The rating criteria differ, therefore they are all over the board,” Joseph Ogden of the Marriott School of Business said.
The business school is arguably the university’s strongest program. It was ranked 38th in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, and received high marks from other guides.
The current issue of Businessweek named BYU as the “quickest pay-back” for business students in the United States.
Ogden said the business school’s success is part of a general trend at BYU.
“We do very well, particularly with undergraduates. We attract top students from all over,” Ogden said.
Increasing diversity at BYU can only help the university, both on campus and in popular opinion, Ogden said.
Despite the success of the business school, some things are holding BYU back in college guide ratings.
College guides such as The Princeton Review often spend as much time reviewing BYU’s unique social environment as they do on academics.
“I don’t think that negatively impacts us with our target students, but it certainly differentiates us from the hundreds of other schools out there,” Ogden said.
Andrew Allen, a BYU freshman majoring in international relations, said he feels BYU is shortchanged when social life is stressed over academics.
One surprising BYU ranking in the U.S. News report was the percent of alumni giving donations to the school.
“We’re not rated high,” said BYU Director of Annual Giving Linda Palmer.
“We’re rated at 21 percent, but schools like Harvard and Yale are nearer 30 to 50 percent,” Palmer said.
The rate of alumni donations plays a major role in the ranking of schools, Palmer said. It is considered a reflection of students’ satisfaction with the school they attended.
Palmer said the satisfaction rating of former BYU students is in the 90th percentile.
Palmer called the current rate “commendable,” but said there is room for improvement.
The fact that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints subsidizes approximately 70 percent of each student’s education may have something to do with low alumni giving, Palmer said.
But it is a misconception that LDS tithing funds and student tuition can cover all the university’s costs, Palmer said.
“We need those donations,” she said.
Shauna Petersen, a BYU senior from Roscoe, Ill., said there might be another reason that BYU alumni are giving back at a lower rate.
“My parents are both alumni, and they are already putting me through school,” she said.
Regardless of rankings, Ogden and Palmer said they are optimistic about the future of the university.
“I think this is an exciting time for BYU. We’re starting to be recognized by the world,” Ogden said.