You’ve probably heard teachers, parents, and counselors discuss lists of the top 10 or 50 colleges in the country. Colleges are measured by components such as graduation rate, wealth, admission selectivity, published research, and alumni success; however, these rankings include a biased system that does not accurately assess whether a school will be a good fit for a student.
The graduation rate is the main contributing factor to a school’s ranking. However, the rankings are not based on the standard four years a student will spend at a university. They are determined by a six-year graduation rate, when only 16.5% of all post-secondary students are enrolled in graduate programs, as specified by the Education date initiative.
Additionally, one factor that affects a school’s ranking by 20% is its reputation among peer university officials, according to American News. This is a completely biased standard.
NIU Vice President of Enrollment Management, Marketing, and Communications Sol Jensen explains that NIU doesn’t spend its money trying to feed the popularity contest that is college rankings.
“We’re not trying to game the system like a lot of schools do,” Jensen said.
Nonetheless, NIU has many aspects that attract its students and keep their freshman retention rate above average.
Jensen said he believes faculty and staff play an important role in making new students feel invited and comfortable on campus and in the classroom.
“It starts with faculty and staff truly embracing our students,” Jensen said, “acknowledging that they come from different lives, backgrounds and experiences. The desire to help them improve their social mobility and help them have great careers.
The location of the university is another important factor that attracts new students.
“It’s not just the fact that we’re close to where a lot of our students came from and grew up,” Jensen explained, “but also for students who didn’t grow up in the northern region of the country. Illinois, the fact that we are so close to the great city of Chicago is another reason that draws them (students) here.
Finally, and perhaps one of the most important reasons a person might choose to attend UNI, is its affordability. NIU tuition is much lower than most other well-known public universities in Illinois.
For Illinois residents, Illinois State University has a estimated tuition rate of $15,416, the University of Illinois has a estimate from $17,138 to $22,324 and Northern Illinois University tuition is $4,893.
“NIU is a very affordable option for the higher education we offer; lots of great scholarships and financial aid opportunities that they might not get at other institutions they might have applied to,” Jensen said.
These rankings aren’t going away anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean you should value them. Instead, you should consider them as general guidelines.