Stetson University in DeLand is ranked third among the South’s top regional universities for academic quality, and Flagler College in St. Augustine is ranked ninth among the South’s best regional colleges, according to U.S. News and World Report’s latest rankings. Florida is among 12 states in the southern region.
The 27th annual edition of USNews & World Report’s popular rankings divides schools into four groups: national universities, national liberal arts colleges, regional universities and regional colleges. Regional successes aside, Florida did poorly on the rankings, suggesting a higher-education system lacking in top, nationally ranked universities.
Ranked separately among national public universities, the University of Florida is 17th in the nation (and the highest-ranked Florida school on the national list). UF’s ranking falls to 47th when included among all national universities, public and private. Florida State is ranked 47th among national public universities alone, and 104th when compared to all national universities.
The University of Central Florida is 97th and 179th. In the national liberal arts rankings, Sarasota’s New College of Florida was the state’s highest-ranked–at 99th. Harvard, Princeton and Yale were first, second and third. The University of California at Berkeley is the highest-ranked public university on the list, at 22nd.
College and university rankings are subjective. The price tag the rankings also post is not: top colleges and universities charge between $30,000 and $40,000 a year merely in tuition and fees, with many costing as much as $50,000. “That’s $200,000 for four years, roughly the median price of a home in some metropolitan areas,” USNews Editor Brian Kelly writes. “That’s the price that Harvard University charges, as well as many schools that appear much farther down our lists. Public school tuitions, while lower, have been rising at an even faster rate. And the average student who graduates with debt owes about $20,000, but that’s sure to grow.”
At Stetson, students this year are paying $33,424 in tuition and fees. Stetson has an enrollment of 3,790. At Flagler College, which has an enrollment of 2,716, students pay $13,860 in tuition and fees. At the University of Florida, in-state tuition $5,020; out-of-state is $27,300. UF has an enrollment of 50,000. Florida State’s in-state tuition is $5,238; out-of-state is $19,773. Florida State’s enrollment is 39,785.
Listed as one of the South’s leading universities since the U.S. News survey of colleges and universities was first published in 1985, Stetson this year tied for third place. The category was renamed “Regional Universities” this year. It includes universities that provide a full range of undergraduate majors and master’s programs, but few, if any, doctoral programs.
“We are proud of Stetson University’s continued recognition as one of the top three universities in the South,” said Dr. Elizabeth “Beth” Paul, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Stetson. “This honor celebrates Stetson’s deep commitment to academic excellence and integrity. The university community takes great pride in the personalized and rigorous learning experience afforded to each and every student.”
The U.S. News rankings are based on several key measures of quality including peer assessment, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving. Stetson is featured in two other sections of the 2011 “America’s Best Colleges” guide – in the “Great Schools, Great Prices” and the “A-Plus Schools for B Students” sections.
Last week, Forbes magazine released its annual list of “America’s Best Colleges,” and Stetson University ranked sixth in Florida and 263rd nationally.