DU Falls out of US News’ Top 100

US News released their annual rankings Monday and DU fell to #105 in the National Universities rankings. As recently as 2020, Denver jumped 17 places to rank 80th among national universities. Denver fell back to #93 last year and tumbled twelve more places this year.

While we can all agree that rankings are somewhat arbitrary, high school students and parents use these rankings to justify college selections and the high cost of tuition. For some, the ‘top 100’ may be the cutoff criteria they use to determine their college choice. The same goes for international students who may rely on US News rankings because they may be unable to make actual campus visits.

Elsewhere in the state, CU-Boulder ranked #97 and Colorado School of Mines #89, both in the Top 100. Princeton, Harvard, and MIT held the top three spots. DU was tied with Drexel, Rochester Institute of Technology, Saint Louis University, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, University of Arizona, University of Oregon, University of San Francisco, and the University of Utah. Colorado College was ranked #27 among National Liberal Arts Colleges.

Only academics are used in determining ranking criteria for US News and their methodology “does not factor in nonacademic elements like social life and athletics.” According to US News, “The 2022-23 Best College Ranking factors and their corresponding weights are unchanged from last year’s edition.” You can review the ranking criteria here.

12 thoughts on “DU Falls out of US News’ Top 100”

  1. A sad free-fall, as other schools have gained ground at DU’s expense.

    I hope this is a BIG wake up call to DU shift its focus to the academic enterprise…

  2. DU doesn’t care. All they seem to care about is crowing about how fricking diverse their student body is, and getting rid of requirements for ACTs and SATs. Apparently this is not helping them numerically, and it’s not helping their reputation. I’m sure there is more at play here. But DU’s constant harping on inclusivity as the guiding goal for the whole university ignores the fact that a certain measure of exclusivity raises a school’s reputation. Sad, but true.

    1. Finally! An opportunity for someone to use an arbitrary ranking to rail against efforts to admit more people of color and low-income people to our proud institution! Besides being elitist in the worst possible way, this comment isn’t even logical… it’s not like DU just start caring more about inclusivity this past year! DU also cared a lot about inclusivity in the years that led to a top 100 ranking. And yes, US News is entirely arbitrary (and increasingly seen as an unreliable metric of college quality) in part because it gives 20% weight to “prestige” as determined by how other college presidents, admission deans, etc. think other schools should be ranked. Meanwhile ACT/SAT scores (actual academics!! are worth 7% of the ranking).

      1. Some good points, Paul. However, the US News metrics are not ‘entirely arbitrary’. They have a very specific methodology. Since ACT/ACT are now optional, the weight is low because few people will show their scores if they are low. ‘Prestige’ of an institution effects the recruitment and retention of top teaching professionals and reputation also impacts future employment for students and the justification of a high tuition rate. Ignoring a drop of 25 places in two years is something to pay attention to if DU wants to lure top students. All that being said, the US News rankings are very narrowly focused on academics and not a reflection of the whole student experience.

      2. Paul, i’m with you, honestly I just pop in the comments section here once in a while for the racism

      3. Paul:

        These USNWR rankings are not arbitrary…They are a very real perceptual metric of where schools stand in the national reputation pecking order in a given year.

        Academics pooh-pooh their existence and methodology all day long, but Admissions Deans, College Presidents and Boards of Trustees pay very close attention to them because they know that such perception MATTERS. Prospective students pay attention to the rankings too, and rankings can often be a critical factor in trimming one’s consideration set in the application process or may influence the matriculation decision.

        The dirty secret of private schools is that next to money, “Prestige/Reputation/Brand” (Choose your descriptor) is the most important metric, as the more others think of your school (prestige), the more you can (and will) charge people to attend it. We live in a brand-centric world today, and the best brands command the largest price-premiums, and leverage the largest shortcuts to choice.

        And for a 75-80% tuition-dependent school like DU, ironically, almost all of the work DU wants to do in diversity and inclusion is heavily subsidized by those families (and companies for grad school) who pay the full tuition to go there. DU’s $1B endowment just does not throw off enough cash to pay for all the diversity the school wants…

        As DU’s national ranking falls out of the top 100, and the school is looking ahead at a shrinking national undergrad applicant pool due to changing demographics, I can assure you that Admissions, the Chancellor and Board of Trustees need to be paying attention to stopping the rankings slide…

  3. The ever-inept DU administration decided some years ago that subjective ratings in the Princeton Review for diversity and inclusivity were more important than rigorous academic rankings by US News and the like. We are now reaping the harvest of such mis-placed priorities.

  4. I’m glad someone noticed the rankings. DU is indeed in a free fall. The institution has lost its way and lost its commitment to education. If it wanted to do better, it could lower the cost of attendance and raise standards. If it lowered the cost, more students would apply and the university could be more selective and raise the quality of standards and education. As it stands, you’d be nuts to pay the tuition at DU for the value of the degree. I have a master’s from DU and I know no employer would look at my resume and think, “Oooh, University of Denver, impressive” as they would with Harvard or even Mines.

  5. I think the value of a DU degree is great. But the fact that DU hasn’t increased the value of a DU degree substantially by winning at this rankings game is a big failure. There is SO much potential for DU geographically, physical facilities, all the people moving to Denver, great athletics, etc. It would have been a great accomplishment for DU to crack the top 50, at least for a while. That wouldn’t have been that crazy, as I think they reached the 60’s in the last couple of decades. But with all these things going for them, the drop outside the top 100 is a big failure. I don’t blame people for asking whether the inclusivity crusade has something to do with that.

  6. Societal perspective on college is changing as people, and particularly men, are increasingly looking at a generic liberal arts-type college degree as not worth the hundreds of thousands of dollars that it may cost, whereas this was not the case 30 years ago. Thus many people turn towards STEM to realize their investment. Unfortunately for DU instead of recognising this and trying to go all-in on STEM+Business they seemingly are focused on petty social justice causes with a particular focus on diversity. I think many people are on boards with the idea of recruiting excellent high schoolers of all backgrounds, but when the diversity becomes the goal and NOT excellence, well then things fall apart. This is emblematic of the issue of higher education at large as all these people who get paid handsomely from bloated tuition dollars greatly prioritise political agendas over providing the highest value for the student. The sad irony is that by doing this DU also hurts those underserved it is trying to help because they still have this massive tuition sticker but the yield is questionable at best if you study Communications or English or whatever. Need to embrace trying to become a STEM school to compete with CU and Mines. Not that we shouldn’t offer non-STEM fields but if DU is serious about trying to be a top school this is the future and they’d be wise to invest 90% of their energy to STEM/Business.

    It’s the same song everywhere. Too much no-strings-attached money going to these institutions, backed in full by the federal government. There is no incentive to cut the fat. Federal government needs to GET OUT of the student loan industry if prices are to ever become reasonable again and the value proposition returns. Don’t think it happens for a long time, but needs to. We are going to hit $100k COA in the next decade or so. I feel fairly successful but would not pay for my child to attend DU or similar school the way things are going. Higher education is a major clusterfuck.

    1. Communications is defining the strategic messages, look and feel for brands to connect with the right audiences and increase sales and brand awareness – please enlighten me as to how this is a questionable degree?

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