Revamped methodology from U.S. News & World Report resulted in Wake Forest’s dramatic fall from 29th in the nation to 47th.
In their criteria for the 2024 National University Rankings, U.S. News removed class size, faculty with terminal degrees, alumni giving average, and high school class standing. Furthermore, the number of students who received Pell Grants was more heavily considered and U.S. News added a new category “first generation graduation rates” to the criteria.
Public universities were significantly favored by the new methodology. Without considering small class size, public universities are no longer penalized for hundred-person lectures. Large public universities often fail to have a majority of professors with terminal degrees, and tend to have more first-generation and Pell grants students given their larger student body. All but one public university in the top 50 rose in ranking from 2023 to 2024.
According to U.S. News, Wake is now comparable in ranking to public universities such as Virginia Tech, University of Georgia, Texas A&M, Rutgers University, and Ohio State University. Since these schools are public institutions, in-state residents receive significantly lower tuition.
Factors influencing diversity are also emphasized in the new methodology. According to U.S. News’ data, Wake has the lowest percentage of minority enrollment among top 50 universities.
The Wake Administration emphasized in their statement on Monday that Wake will continue to prioritize high academic standards, despite the new ranking methodology. “U.S. News no longer measures things that make us who we are, such as average class size and percentage of faculty with terminal degrees,” said President Susan Wente.
Brett Eaton, Vice-President of Communications at Wake, relayed a similar message to The Wake Report, writing that “U.S. News no longer rewards that approach” of small class sizes or faculty with terminal degrees.
In her statement, Wente emphasized that “we do not make decisions or determine University strategy based on rankings.”
Students are anxious to see how this will affect future admissions classes, post-graduate job opportunities, and if Wake will change in response to this ranking.