What those college rankings really mean

Girl working on solar panel

What’s up with all of those college rankings, anyway?

We know. There are a lot of college rankings out there.

It’s no wonder students and families sometimes get confused about what they all mean. That’s why it’s important to think beyond the ranking itself, and instead get into the stories behind them.

At Colorado State, we’re proud of of our rankings, but we’re even prouder of the hard work they represent. After all, shouldn’t a ranking mean something more than a number?

Here are a few of the rankings that reveal the most about CSU’s values, and, more importantly, the stories behind them.

Up 9 spots in 5 years

Let’s start with the big one. The U.S. News and World Report’s rankings of national universities.

You’ve probably seen this ranking make headlines before, and many use it as a barometer to assess a school’s overall quality. That’s why we’re proud to say that we’re headed in the right direction.

Since 2012, CSU has risen nine spots to No. 58 among public universities. That’s a direct result of the commitment to reinvest in campus, increase student retention, and provide a high-value education to our students.

Leading the way in sustainability

We’re growing at CSU — fast. But, we’re not growing irresponsibly.

In fact, we are consistently recognized for our leadership in sustainability. We were the first university in the world to receive a S.T.A.R.S. Platinum rating for sustainability, have been recognized by the Sierra Club, and we’re the #1 most sustainable university in Best Colleges’ annual rankings.

So, what are we doing to create such a green place to live and learn? We’re thinking big. like housing the Colorado Forest Restoration Institute and the Center for Collaborative Conservation, and small, like making composting a priority in our Dining Halls and supporting a bike-friendly culture.

“A” for effort

No, really. A lot of effort goes into receiving an “A” rating from Niche, an organization that produces comprehensive university rankings based on dozens of data sets and public reviews.

Niche approaches their rankings in a comprehensive manner reflecting the quality of everything from specific academic programs to the quality of food on campus. We’re proud to report that a “B” is our lowest rating in any individual category and that we are rated as the #2 Top Public University in Colorado, just behind the Colorado School of Mines.

We earned this rating because CSU is a well-rounded institution. The college experience is more than just classes or residence halls; it’s off-campus life, the quality of the town we live in, and even how happy our professors are teaching on campus. The true quality of a school shows when we add all of the factors together.

Write it down: CSU is serious about writing

This year, CSU was also recognized for excellence in “Writing in the Disciplines.” In other words, CSU, along with 19 other universities, makes “the writing process a priority at all levels of instruction and across the curriculum.”

In today’s world, communication is key to a student’s success, which is why it’s a priority in all of our programs. Our student body is seeing the benefits, too, in metrics such as student retention and success.

The best part? We’re in great company. Other schools recognized include academic heavy-hitters like Brown University, Cornell University, Harvard University, Princeton University, Stanford University, and Yale University, to name a few.