Md. campuses score well in magazine college guide Md. Institute, Loyola 4th in their categories

September 06, 1996|By David Folkenflik | David Folkenflik,SUN STAFF

Maryland campuses made a solid showing, although not a splashy one, in the 10th annual U.S. News and World Report college guide released yesterday -- a ritual of fall now as firmly established as the turning of the leaves.

The Johns Hopkins University slipped from 10th to 15th in the category of national universities, which was led this year by Yale. Loyola College of Maryland placed fourth in the category of Northeastern comprehensive universities, and the Maryland Institute, College of Art was fourth among fine-arts colleges nationally.

"We're very pleased to see that all the work we've done here, and all the changes [have been] recognized by our peers, and to see ourselves in such great company. They're all great schools," Maryland Institute President Fred Lazarus IV said. While listings in his category were largely reputation-based, the ratings "do make a major difference to kids," Lazarus said.

This year, for example, the institute's freshman yield -- the percentage of applicants accepted by the college who decide to enroll there -- was sharply above last year's rate. When surveyed, Maryland Institute freshmen said academic reputation was the single most important factor, which Lazarus said may be partly attributable to the magazine rankings, which placed the college third in the same category a year ago.

Hood College in Frederick was listed 14th among Northeastern comprehensive universities -- a category that does not include the nation's most famous liberal arts colleges.

The top national liberal arts schools are: Swarthmore, Amherst, Williams, Wellesley, Pomona, Haverford, Middlebury, Bowdoin, Carleton and Bryn Mawr.

The top national universities are: Yale, Princeton, Harvard, Duke, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford, Dartmouth and Brown. California Institute of Technology and Northwestern tied for No. 9. No school from the University of Maryland System broke the top 50 for national universities.

In a new section concentrating on costs, the magazine rapped St. Mary's College of Maryland for its rapid tuition increase, saying rates jumped nearly 32 percent in four years. That was the sharpest increase among national liberal arts colleges, according to the magazine.

The guide, the magazine's best-selling issue of the year, has drawn scorn from some college educators. U.S. News' formulas, which blend objective measures with a reputation-based survey, tend to favor private schools over public ones and universities with large endowments above those with smaller ones. Critics also question how statistics can fairly sum up the quality of something as intangible as undergraduate education.

Some colleges rely heavily on the rankings in seeking publicity, donations and applicants, holding news conferences or buying reprints of the magazine's articles to send to alumni.

Even skeptical academic administrators concede that the U.S. News survey is considered the most reliable of college rankings. They are loath to alienate U.S. News editors, whose judgments can affect how parents and students view them.

"We can't ignore the impact that U.S. News has on our marketing efforts," said Loyola College spokesman Mark Kelley.

Pub Date: 9/06/96

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