How do Inland universities stack up against national institutions? – San Bernardino Sun

A ton goes into choosing where to attend college.

Location. Affordability. Extracurriculars.


Be they colleges in San Bernardino, Riverside or Los Angeles counties, Inland students have no shortage of respected local institutions to spend four-plus years pursuing higher education.

And prestigious national rankings agree.

According to the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. News & World Report, a global leader in providing useful rankings of all sort, Inland universities are some of the best in a vast western region that stretches as far north as Montana, east as Oklahoma and south as Texas.

Other heralded publications, such as Washington Monthly and Money Magazine, say the same.

While Inland school officials maintain their colleges do not live or die with where they land on somewhat subjective annual lists, they do take their placement as validation of a job well done.

“When we talk about rankings,” said Ron Whitenhill, assistant vice president of outreach and educational partnerships at Cal Poly Pomona, “we’re always proud when the quality of the education we provide is recognized externally by the ranking themselves, but they’re not the end goal. Our goal is to provide the value of education itself, and the rankings, whatever indicators there are, bear that out to be true.

“They become a point of pride for us – external validation of what we’re doing internally.”

From publicly-available data points such as tuition costs, test scores, graduation rates and rates of employment once students receive their diploma, to subjective assessments from second parties on a college’s reputation, myriad factors go into compiling the U.S. News & World Report rankings, said Rachel Beech, associate vice president for enrollment management at Cal State San Bernardino.

In the latest education poll, the University of Riverside and the University of La Verne checked in at Nos. 83 and 136, respectively, among the best national universities, or schools offering a full range of undergraduate majors, plus master’s and doctoral programs, according to the rankings.

As far as the best national liberal arts colleges, Pomona College paced area schools at No. 4, followed by fellow Claremont Colleges Claremont McKenna (8), Harvey Mudd (28), Scripps (30) and Pitzer (35).

CSUSB is among several Inland institutions in the top 40 of the U.S. News & World Report’s best regional universities list, which includes schools that offer a full range of undergraduate programs, some master’s programs, but few doctoral programs.

The University of Redlands ranked fourth there, followed by Cal Poly Pomona (14), Cal Baptist (34) and CSUSB (37). La Sierra University in Riverside placed 67th.

Loma Linda University did not appear in the publication’s national or regional rankings.

Stephanie Johnson, a spokeswoman for the University of Redlands, said the school’s top mark is reflective of its “personalized approach to education in which students can pursue their passions and potential with faculty who are both teachers and mentors guides them to success.”

As much pride as college officials take in where they place every year, Beech said the U.S. News & World Report rankings must be taken with a grain of salt, if only because evaluations are sent to higher-ups near and far, meaning lesser-known schools out-of-state could receive low marks through no fault of their own.

“If a college isn’t a household name,” Beech, who herself has completed surveys about other western universities, said, “it may not be getting those high rankings.”

Still, colleges use high rankings to appeal to prospective students and alumni, as well as foundations, potential donors and media members.

Halfway down CSUSB’s homepage, for instance, against a blue ribbon, is a graphic with two recent rankings: No. 9 for “Best Bang for the Buck in the West” as catalogued by Washington Monthly and No. 13 “in the West for Social Mobility” according to U.S. News & World Report.

Such subrankings emphasize a college’s particular strengths, Beech said, and prove helpful for students weighing their options.

“When you come in the top 10, 20, 50,” Beech added, “and you’re talking about 3,000 universities across the U.S., it’s an important data point and something we get to share as a point of pride. We place them front and center on our website that way the general public has an understanding of how to contextualize our institution’s place in the higher education order.

“We always take our rankings with pride,” Beech continued, “and use them as an opportunity to learn and grow and see where other institutions ranked in the same categories. If they’re higher than use, what are they doing? How can we grow into higher rankings as well?”

Cal Poly Pomona also promotes high marks in certain categories, including social mobility and outcomes for Latinx students among polytechnic universities.

These rankings “frame the conversation before we even get to prospective students and their families,” Whitenhill said. “We can speak to the quality of our programs and what we’re doing as an institution. Your name precedes itself, then once they take that nugget to start exploring, they understand why that number exists.”

In addition to national and regional universities and colleges, U.S. News & World Report ranks grad schools and online colleges. Though community colleges and trade schools are not given rankings, the outlet does provide a comprehensive list of both.

Public two-year institutions in the area include Chaffey College, with locations in Rancho Cucamonga, Chino and Fontana (29,000 students); Citrus College in Glendora (19,600); Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa (4,500); Moreno Valley College (2,000); Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut (30,000); Norco College (2,100); Riverside City College (5,400); and San Bernardino Valley College (9,100).

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