SDSU climbs in U.S. News rating

SDSU climbs in U.S. News rating South Dakota State University's ranking among public Midwestern universities is on the rise.

In data released Aug. 20, U.S. News and World Report has ranked SDSU fifth among public Midwestern universities. It represents a jump of three spots from the magazine's 1998 rankings.

President Peggy Gordon Elliot said, "we are, of course, pleased when the progress of the university is recognized. This report, along with the spectacular scores obtained by the SDSU students in the spring proficiency exams' lets us know that the good work done at SDSU is getting the right results and is being recognized for its quality.

"This is a great was to start the millennium school year."

This spring 96 percent of the SDSU students taking the sophomore proficiency passed the test, the highest percentage in the state, according to Marge Hegge at Academic Evaluation and Assessment on campus.

The U.S. News rankings are based on academic reputation, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving.

SDSUs scored a 100 percent rating for having 100 percent of its faculty as full time.

Other noteworthy ratings:

* Average freshmen retention rate, 73 percent.

* Average graduation rate, 55 percent.

* Percent of classes with fewer than 20 students, 42 percent.

* Percent of classes with more than 50 students, 14 percent.

* Student/faculty ratio, 15/1.

* Percent of freshmen in the top 25 percent of their high school class, 39 percent.

* Acceptance rate, 86 percent.

* Alumni giving rate, 21 percent.

SDSU had an overall score of 70.

SDSU was the only South Dakota school to be rated by U.S. News and World Report among regional universities. Dakota State was ranked third among regional public liberal arts colleges.

Regional universities provide a full range of undergraduate and master's level programs, but offer few, if any, doctoral programs. Regional liberal arts colleges focus primarily on an undergraduate education, offering few, if any, graduate degrees.

Among the 504 regional universities, 260 are public, the national magazine reports in its Aug. 30 issue.

When private universities are thrown into the U.S. News and World Report ratings, SDSU is in a tie for 26th among regional Midwestern universities.

Private universities tend to score better in the U.S. News rankings than public schools, the magazine reported. Because of their mission to serve students in their state, public schools have less stringent admission standards, the magazine reported.

Also, public universities tend to have lower graduation and retention rates, larger classes and often lack the funding of better-endowed private universities.

Creighton University, a Jesuit-run school in Omaha, NE, has the top ranking among regional universities.

U.S. News cautions that rankings are only one of many criteria students should consider in choosing a college. Simply because a school is tops in its category does not mean it is the top choice for everyone. Also, schools separated by only a few places are extremely close in academic quality, the magazine reports.

U.S. News' college edition hits the newstands Monday. Information is available on its web site ( today.

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