Cal Poly was ranked one of U.S. News & World Report’s Best in the West undergraduate universities for the 20th straight year this fall.
Cal Poly ranked sixth on U.S. News’ list of top undergraduate universities with little to no doctorate programs for schools in the west, and is also the top public institution on the list, with the next closest, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, placing 20th.
The ranking is proof of Cal Poly’s faculty, staff and administration putting in effort for years, Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong said.
“I’m very proud of that fact and I think it’s a testament to the hard work people have put in over the years,” Armstrong said.
Despite the high ranking, however, Armstrong sees the No. 6 spot as incentive to move up even higher. The president said he is thinking of ways to improve Cal Poly’s public education to rival the best private schools.
“I’ve got a competitive streak about me so I’m like, ‘OK, what does it take to be number one public and private?’” Armstrong said.
The ranking is also reflective of all the hard work and talent at Cal Poly, Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) President Katie Morrow said.
“It shows that people are recognizing all the great things that our programs and departments are doing,” Morrow said.
And a good part of the college ranking does come from peer evaluations, according to U.S. News’ website.
U.S. News evaluates 16 different factors of each university and compiles the cumulative score to establish a ranking. One of the factors with the most weight, the peer assessment score, makes up 25 percent of the weighted grade of an institution.
Other scores that factor heavily into the ranking for regional universities such as Cal Poly include graduation and retention rates, both of which make up their own 25 percent of the final score, according to U.S. News’ website.
But even with the high ranking, Cal Poly strives to provide a quality education for students, not the magazine, Morrow said.
“Obviously we don’t do the things that we do for this outside validation,” Morrow said.
What the ranking does do, however, is provide encouragement, Morrow said.
U.S. News’ findings remind students “that we’re really lucky to be here,” Morrow said. The rankings also give students the energy to continue achieving, Morrow said.
“It’s motivating for us, I think,” Morrow said. “Our school’s the ‘Best in the West,’ so we have to be the best students in the west, too.”
Other Cal Poly students are familiar with the rankings system, but don’t know much about Cal Poly’s history in the rankings.
Nutrition senior Kelsy Simpson said she knew that Cal Poly ranked as one of the top universities according to U.S. News, but she didn’t know this was Cal Poly’s 20th year, she said.
While Cal Poly’s reputation was one draw to the university for Simpson, college rankings aren’t the only factor to consider when picking a school, she said.
“It’s really important to go where fits you best,” Simpson said.
Rankings didn’t pay much of a role in landscape architecture freshman Ryan McKay’s decision to come to Cal Poly, he said. Instead, he looked at factors such as location, size of school, programs and “general vibe,” he said.
College rankings are more for schools and less for students, McKay said.
“They’re a way for them to like stand out against everywhere else,” McKay said.
Though McKay recognizes that the ranking reflects well on Cal Poly, he also doesn’t trust them completely. He said he is concerned the rankings are biased, and doesn’t understand how rankings are decided, he said.
“I don’t really know where they come from,” McKay said.