Cal Poly placed 230 out of 650 total schools, and 43rd in top colleges of the West. It was also ranked ninth of all California public universities, and 28th of all California public and private colleges. Cal Poly is also listed as the highest ranked college in the California State University system for the second year in a row.
Cal Poly’s position did, however, drop since last year, according to Cal Poly Public Affairs Office Web and magazine editor Matt Lazier. He said the university was positioned at 177 out of 610 total colleges in 2010, and it was 21st out of California’s 50 public and private universities.
Despite the drop, history sophomore Priscilla Hatton said being on the list is a reassuring reminder of why she chose Cal Poly.
“Making it on to something like (the Forbes list) means that (the administration is) spending our money the right way,” she said.
Employees at the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, a think tank based in Washington D.C., created the list according to various factors, such as: post graduate success, student satisfaction, student debt, timely graduation rate and prestigious awards.
The post graduate success category carries the most weight, amounting to 30 percent of a school’s ranking. It also includes considerations such as the average salary of university alumni.
According to a document released by the staff of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity entitled “Compiling the Forbes/CCAP Rankings,” student satisfaction is the second most important category, weighted at 27.5 percent. Satisfaction is determined by student evaluations, the number of freshmen who continue to attend the school for their sophomore year and a comparison of the projected number of freshmen who will re-enroll versus the actual number.
Also according to the document, student debt and four-year graduation rate both make up 17.5 percent of the total, and nationally competitive awards account for the remaining 7.5 percent.
Williams College took the coveted number one spot overall, followed by Princeton and the United States Military Academy of West Point. Cal Poly is sandwiched between Brigham Young University in Idaho, which ranked 229, and Austin College in Texas, at 231.
Environmental engineering sophomore Torrey Plana said he, unlike Hatton, feels the Cal Poly corporation does not always prioritizes the most important financial responsibilities.
“I think we could do better in regards to the faculty,” he said. “Personally, I think they aren’t up to par.”
He said although the remodeled Recreation Center looks nice, he would rather see money being spent on faculty and academic resources over funding the construction of a new recreation center.
Despite students’ mixed feelings about what the ranking means, both Hatton and Plana agreed lists such as the one produced by Forbes affected their decision to apply to Cal Poly.
“I plan on going to law school,” Hatton said. “The way the school’s perceived does make a difference.”
Plana said he agreed, noting Cal Poly’s reputation for being a top engineering school.
“It’s the main reason I applied,” he said. “Because of its academic standard.”