Rankings hold little rank with KSU students

Another year, another low ranking in national polls.

As was reported in Wednesday’s Stater, Kent State has yet again fallen in the fourth tier of schools on U.S. News & World Report‘s annual ranking.

This leaves us among the likes of Cleveland State, Wright State, University of Toledo and rival University of Akron.

Not exactly Harvard are they?

President Lester Lefton has stated repeatedly that he’d like to increase our rankings, and to do so, he says we need to let everyone else in on “Northeast Ohio’s best kept secret.” For those of you who haven’t heard that tagline before, he’s talking about Kent State.

A big factor in where you land in the U.S. News ranking has to do with peer assessment. Apparently other university presidents don’t see the likeness to Harvard either.

Lefton is trying to change the way others in academia see this institution, and kudos to him for tackling that challenge. On top of that, it seems everyone at the university is in a flurry over what to do about low retention and declining enrollment, both factors in Kent State’s low ranking. Those are important, too.

However that alone won’t solve the fact that Kent State is not now and won’t for the foreseeable future be a first-tier school.

It’s easy to say a large state university can’t compete with the likes of Harvard. This is true. But it hasn’t stopped No. 57 Ohio State from landing among the best. It also hasn’t held back the University of Cincinnati or Bowling Green State from third-tier status.

But the thing is, we’re not Harvard or Ohio State or even Bowling Green. And that’s OK.

Many Kent State students aren’t here for the name on the top of their diploma. They’re here to get in, get out and get a job. To do so they just need an accredited degree. And that’s OK, too.

While pushing to increase the stature of our most successful programs by reallocating resources to programs such as nursing and journalism may increase our standings, it doesn’t mean we should let other programs lag behind just because they can’t compete at the same level.

How many Kent State students chose this university because some magazine said it was the best in their field? A lot of students change their majors anyway.

In all likelihood, most Kent State students could care less about the ranking of this university on some poll. As one of the students in Wednesday’s story pointed out, “If they did it more upon what students said about their school, it’d be totally different.” We agree.

Whether the ranking is high or low, or not at all, that’s not why students choose this university.

Students choose it for its location and its culture. They choose it because it is more affordable than other options or because Kent State handed them a scholarship when nobody else would.

It seems increasing student pride and opinion of the school will have a bigger impact on keeping and attracting students here than our standing in a national poll.

To those of us from the region, we know Kent State is a good school. It’s not a secret, and we don’t need some ranking to validate it.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.