Iowa State’s Princeton Review ranking proves positive

Mckenzie Vogt

Princeton Review is just one of many tools that are used to help students decide which college is right for their future. In February 2011, the Princeton Review recognized Iowa State as one of the 50 most valuable public colleges in the United States. This review based its criteria on three main areas: academics, cost of attendance and financial aid.

A portion of the Princeton Review’s evaluation is based off of online surveys the students can fill out, and the other half is data collected from the colleges.

“There are questions asked based on the five-point scale. Students fill in one of the boxes on a grid, and it is tallied up based on the students’ answers to one or more of those questions,” said Marc Harding, assistant vice president of admissions at Iowa State. “They use that to create an index, and that is one of the things they use to rank the students.”

Although appearing on honorable reviews such as the Princeton Review, The Washington Monthly or the US News & World Report helps the college connect with students from farther away, these reviews are not the most important recruiting process.

“It’s nice to be in there; if not, it doesn’t mean we are a bad place. However, I do have some empathy to those schools who don’t follow in the subjectivities of the criteria,” Harding said. “In the admissions world, it would be hard to find someone that would say it makes zero difference. To some people they do consider rankings.”

Other major qualifications that many students look at when deciding upon a college can be anything from academics, clubs and organizations or even the basic layout of the campus.

Laura Pedersen, senior in accounting, said, “After my first semester at the University of Missouri, I decided that I wanted to transfer to Iowa State because I had heard such good things about its business program, and I also liked how nice Gerdin was.”

Another survey that is completed by freshmen after orientation is the Cooperative Institutional Research Program Survey.

“The CIRP survey has been [one of] the longest-running, longitudinal studies that has been done in the United States. Almost all entering freshmen take this survey at Iowa State University,” Harding said. “This information is sent back to California. They have hundreds of thousands of records about students’ habits in the U.S.”

A big part of some students’ decisions could even be based on their future. When asked in the CIRP 2009 survey if students are coming to Iowa State because the college’s graduates get good jobs, 64.6 percent agreed.

“If you are paying all this money to go to college, it’s outcomes, outcomes, outcomes. You want to know that you are getting your money’s worth,” Harding said.