Misericordia moves up five places in latest US News & World Report rankings

MU is ranked 47th out of 142 colleges and universities.
Misericordia University ranks in the top tier, 47th out of 142 colleges and universities, in the Best Regional Universities – North category of U.S. News and World Report’s 2013 edition of Best Colleges, which includes institutions of higher education in the northern United States that offer master’s degrees.

“Misericordia is honored to be ranked among the very best schools,’’ said Michael A. MacDowell, president of Misericordia University. “It is nice to see that Misericordia is regionally acclaimed and nationally recognized for its quality undergraduate and graduate academic programs. We continue to believe that the Misericordia tradition of combining challenging academics, superb career preparation and imbuing in each student a sense of service is appealing to today’s students, their families and prospective employers.’’

Misericordia University is among eight colleges and universities tied for 47th on the U.S. News & World Report list. The individual data elements that comprise the overall U.S. News & World Report ranking score should be carefully reviewed. Misericordia’s freshmen retention rate of 84 percent is equal to or better than other colleges and universities with higher overall rankings. MU’s graduation rate — another key factor in the rankings — also exceeds numerous peer institutions. Other Misericordia data used to calculate the rankings that match or exceed other highly ranked colleges and universities include the percent of classes under 20 students (54 percent), student faculty ratio (12 to 1) and the percentage of alumni giving (24 percent).

Student selectivity and SAT/ACT scores also have steadily risen at Misericordia, signifying an increase in student quality as measured by standardized testing.

Misericordia University’s 47th ranking is up 20 places from 2007, including a five-point increase from 2011. In the latest rankings, MU is included in a tight grouping of 13 colleges and universities that are separated by two points for the rankings of 42 through 47, respectively.

For smaller, regional colleges like Misericordia University, name recognition plays a negative factor in the rankings. Twenty-five percent of the overall score is derived from peer reviews — surveys of other college presidents, academic deans and admissions directors, many from far outside the immediate area that might not know Misericordia as well as they could.

Perhaps the best measure of a college or university is what its own students say about it. The prestigious National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) surveys freshmen and seniors regarding important measures of quality undergraduate education. It determines how engaged they are in specific activities. When compared to other institutions, Misericordia students overwhelmingly rated their educational experience as positive, felt their institution’s intellectual and creative work was academically challenging, felt they completed a significant amount of service to the community and gave their school a high ranking for providing a supportive campus environment.

NSSE is designed to obtain information from colleges and universities nationwide about student participation in programs and activities. More than 416,000 randomly selected first- and fourth-year students from 673 colleges and universities in the United States were surveyed in 2011. The results help institutions confirm good practices in undergraduate education and provide a benchmark by which schools can determine an accurate measure of quality education. Results include comparisons to similar colleges and all schools participating in the survey. The latest survey included 451 Misericordia students.

In the study, 97 percent of first-year students rated their entire educational experience at Misericordia as good or excellent, compared to an 89 percent average of all other institutions surveyed. Eighty-eight percent of respondents said they would choose Misericordia again if they could start their collegiate career over, a figure that is 6 percent higher for freshmen who attend other Catholic institutions. Freshman respondents also overwhelming rated their faculty as available, helpful and sympathetic (97 percent) and said the University provided the support they needed to succeed academically (92 percent) compared to 81 percent at all other schools surveyed.

An important factor in a struggling economy, 95 percent of Misericordia freshmen said they feel strongly that career preparation is an important part of the Misericordia mission — rating it 12 percentage points higher than other Catholic institutions surveyed. Eighty-nine percent of Misericordia freshmen also considered both the ethical and spiritual development and the social and personal development of students as important parts of the Misericordia mission, at least eight points higher than the comparative group of Catholic institutions.

Comparatively, 90 percent of MU seniors rated their educational experience as good to excellent, higher than the NSSE average of 87 percent. Seniors also rated the quality of advising 10 percentage points higher than at other surveyed institutions. The MU seniors also felt they learned to work effectively with others (89 percent), and rated Misericordia as helping them develop a personal code of values and ethics (73 percent), which is 11 percentage points higher than the NSSE average.

Misericordia University also holds for 2012 a “Best Northeastern College” designation by the Princeton Review, a student-survey based measure of quality colleges and universities. MU is one of 220 institutions of higher education The Princeton Review has recommended in its “Best in the Northeast’’ section of its website feature, “2012 Best Colleges: Region by Region,’’ that posted Aug. 1 on

The Princeton Review profile described Misericordia University’s academic programs as “very challenging’’ and “the coursework is rigorous,’’ so “it all adds up in the end’’ to a highly marketable degree.

Washington Monthly magazine ranked Misericordia University among the top 37 percent of all master’s degree-granting institutions of higher education in the country in a survey that stresses community service and social mobility of students. Misericordia is ranked 255 overall among 682 other colleges and universities that were recognized in the “2012 Master’s Universities’’ category. The rankings are based on the institution’s contribution to the public good in three evenly weighted categories: social mobility, research and service. The rankings appear in the September/October issue of Washington Monthly magazine.