What is going horribly wrong at PSU - free fall in academic rankings

PSU2UNC

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Feb 9, 2016
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Similar situation hold true for SUNY ESF (env. science and forestry) at SU and some of land-grant majors at Cornell. Students in those programs are taking courses along side other Cornell and SU students and are paying a fifth of the tuition.
I worked at SU (in a department closely aligned with ESF) for awhile so I know a bit about this. Cornell is a little different because those students are actually Cornell students (they just pay less) meaning their diploma says "Cornell". While ESF is actually very good, it does not have the name recognition (nationally at least) of Syracuse or Cornell.

Additionally, It is not at all unusual for closely affiliated universities to allow students to take a limited number of courses at the affiliated schools. For example, NCSU/UNC/Duke allow students to take classes at each institution regardless of their home institution. While at UNC, I took classes at both NCSU and Duke. Interesting, more Duke students take classes at UNC than the reverse (or that used to be the case...I can't find the current numbers).
 
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Art

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May 29, 2001
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Appreciated, but I was refuting the statement that there are no academic scholarships available outside of the Honors Program. Perhaps you could say there are no *full* academic scholarships available, but even Honors scholarships are only $5K per year, no?
There are some merit scholarships. There aren't many. Some are generous, most are token to okay

PSU falls short when it comes to grants based on financial need. Combine that with a shortage of merit awards and good students for whom money is an object will look elsewhere, not all but a lot.
 

Harrisburg Dave

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Dec 29, 2016
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My beef with Penn State, Pitt, and Temple Is primarily the annual cost. I share the opinion of many of you that we have to do something about making affordability possible for working class kids.

Universities can also be an incredible economic driver, I have to give Pitt and Carnegie Mellon much of the credit for Pittsburgh not turning into Detroit.

unfortunately, Penn State has been limited by location (distance from population/business concentrations) and an inability to come up with a formula for generating tech start-ups and business investment. If we could find someone who has a great track record in tech/business and invest in them I would be all for it. Drexel has a President with an accounting and finance background they grabbed from F&M. He has them on a course for a multi-decade investment plan that could make them a high profile player in Philadelphia growth.
 

BobPSU92

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May 6, 2015
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Penn State is not for the little people (or people who look like them). The number one attribute considered by admissions is ability to pay.

o_O
 
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Media Fan

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Coincidence ?????

>>>>
President Eric J. Barron
Eric J. Barron, former dean at Penn State and former president of Florida State University, began his presidency at Penn State on May 12, 2014. Succeeding former President Rodney Erickson, who had served since 2011, Dr. Barron was named the 18th President of Penn State by the University's Board of Trustees February 17, 2014.
And since this bozo left Florida State, it’s ranking has moved up significantly. Incredible incompetence.
 

Harrisburg Dave

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Dec 29, 2016
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All of the pot smoking has to be a factor for the drop in scores :rolleyes::rolleyes:
My first day at Penn State I was invited to attend an orientation get together.

A couple guys there were Vietnam vets. They brought in a joint that was as big as my forearm and passed it around the room.

This naive suburb boy was high for two days.
 
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PSU2UNC

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There are some merit scholarships. There aren't many. Some are generous, most are token to okay

PSU falls short when it comes to grants based on financial need. Combine that with a shortage of merit awards and good students for whom money is an object will look elsewhere, not all but a lot.
Agreed that PSU falls short; was just refuting the idea that there are *no* merit based, non-Honors scholarships available.

The impression that I got from my time in academia is that many (most??) academic scholarships are the result of endowments, rather than from the "base funding" (in the case of state affiliated universities, appropriations plus tuition). Is that the case for PSU? If so, isn't the shortcoming then with alumni who are not stepping up to endow more scholarships?
 

psu2016

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Oct 9, 2015
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US News rankings are totally worthless, just ignore it. Everybody in higher ed knows they're worthless.

If Penn State wants to increase their US news rankings, ironically, the best way to do that is to raise tuition and give big raises to their administrators. That raises the per-student spending which raises the US news score.

If you have to believe in rankings, look up ARWU -- Academic Rankings of World reseach Universities. It is based on journal citations -- whose professors get cited the most by other researchers around the world.

It's also an imperfect measure -- just because your faculty publishes a lot of papers doesn't mean they even bother teaching undergrads.

But as a rough measure of the horsepower of a research university and how influential its faculty is, ARWU is pretty good.

US News is a mishmash of a bunch of statistics but it basically boils down to how much money they spend. The more you spend, the higher your ranking. So US News has very much aggravated the problem of skyrocketing college tuition. If you google it you can probably find Malcolm Gladwell's takedown of the whole US News ranking racket. It's a savage article and spot on.
There are certainly valid critiques of the US News rankings, but that higher ed does not care about it is not one of them
 

shifix

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Jun 20, 2008
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Back in 2013 Penn State was ranked 37 in the US News and World Report rankings. Now they are 62 and behind Pitt and Ohio State. I realize this is just one ranking, but it is also the most widely accepted ranking. PSU admins need to focus on stopping this free fall.
We are becoming a football factory! Who goes to college for an education?
 
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Art

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Agreed that PSU falls short; was just refuting the idea that there are *no* merit based, non-Honors scholarships available.

The impression that I got from my time in academia is that many (most??) academic scholarships are the result of endowments, rather than from the "base funding" (in the case of state affiliated universities, appropriations plus tuition). Is that the case for PSU? If so, isn't the shortcoming then with alumni who are not stepping up to endow more scholarships?
Source of merit-based grants is a mixed bag. At PSU there are clearly some that are endowed. Source of others is hard to identify, but if I had to guess it would also be endowment. At other state schools, the source is often the state, but my sense is that has diminished. Years ago, NJ had a very generous merit program for NJ residents attending any state school. That program was eliminated and some schools substituted their own funding, albeit on vastly reduced scale.
 

Lion84

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Apr 10, 2015
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The PA legislature is way too busy overpaying themselves to worry about much of anything else. After all, PA must be doing very well, what with having the second highest paid legislators in the country.
Yes but at least we don't have the largest Legislature in the Country - New Hampshire does - Why???? but PA tops them all by having the largest full time Legislature in the Country - Your Tax Dollars at work, the dollars are working not the Legislature.
 

Art

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Yes but at least we don't have the largest Legislature in the Country - New Hampshire does - Why???? but PA tops them all by having the largest full time Legislature in the Country - Your Tax Dollars at work, the dollars are working not the Legislature.
The representatives in NH are paid $200 (plus a mileage allowance) for a two year term. The term bill wouldn't quite pay the annual salary of one PA legislator.
 

Fizz1

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May 14, 2005
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Back in 2013 Penn State was ranked 37 in the US News and World Report rankings. Now they are 62 and behind Pitt and Ohio State. I realize this is just one ranking, but it is also the most widely accepted ranking. PSU admins need to focus on stopping this free fall.
If you were a top professor or researcher, and could choose any university, would you choose PSU as your employer? Through retirements since the scandal (including the early retirement offered a couple of years ago) and people moving on to other universities, there has been turnover. Quality of education is difficult to measure. It starts there.
 

DELion

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May 23, 2020
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Someone please educate me. I thought these were supposed to be "academic" rankings. What does tuition have to do with academic quality? I certainly wouldn't expect an inverse relationship. If high tuition is a negative factor in the rankings, why are private schools with much higher tuition than Penn State ranked higher?

I do believe current tuition rates at Penn State are too high for a land grant university whose mission should be to provide a good affordable education to middle class in-state families. I think the day of reckoning is coming and academia will be forced to enact cuts similar to what most private businesses have been doing for decades.
 
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Raffycorn

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Jul 12, 2012
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Someone please educate me. I thought these were supposed to be "academic" rankings. What does tuition have to do with academic quality? I certainly wouldn't expect an inverse relationship. If high tuition is a negative factor in the rankings, why are private schools with much higher tuition than Penn State ranked higher?

I do believe current tuition rates at Penn State are too high for a land grant university whose mission should be to provide a good affordable education to middle class in-state families. I think the day of reckoning is coming and academia will be forced to enact cuts similar to what most private businesses have been doing for decades.
Two reasons:

(1) the rankings are (purportedly) to measure the "best college," not the "best academic college" - and if you think that's inherently subjective, you'd be correct. But for the US News, "best college" basically means a combination of graduation and retention rate (35%), academic reputation (20%), faculty resources (20%), admissions selectivity (7%), financial resources per student (10%), alumni donations (3%), and the student debt of graduates (5%). There are a bunch of sub-factors to most of those categories, but that's the broad strokes of what the US News measures. This year, though, graduate student debt is a new factor for the US News - and if you think this causes Penn State to lag even further behind its fellow public schools, you'd be right.

(2) tuition and financial aid play a role in the university's selectivity because a whole bunch of otherwise highly-qualified applicants decide to go elsewhere because it's cheaper. We've seen ample examples in this thread of people whose kids or relatives have decided to go to peer schools to Penn State, in part because it's cheaper to do so. It's my opinion that Penn State's tuition cost (and mostly the final cost of tuition minus whatever financial aid is offered) is the primary reason why Penn State's incoming class statistics have dropped behind a bunch of our peer schools.
 

YogiMan71

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Oct 20, 2001
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To be accurate, what U.S News calculates is not an academic ranking. It's a ranking based on criteria THEY'VE decided is important. Click the below link. 22% is based on graduation and retention rates. I think we've suffered in that regard due to more out of state students being admitted simply because they're charged a higher tuition. They may flunk out after a year or leave because they decided the tuition was more of a burden than they expected. Old Main doesn't care. The next year they'll just admit some other out of state kid and take their money.

20% is peer assessment. No doubt that's taken a hit due to the incompetent response to the Sandusky scandal.

5% of the ranking is student indebtedness. I'm guessing our more recent alums have quite a bill to pay. Tuition relief isn't anywhere on the horizon.

LINK
yes, my sons friend is paying out of state tuition for staying home in Colorado and taking courses for PSU online. My son decided to go to CU Boulder since it is half the cost of Penn State and their aerospace engineering school is highly ranked. Colorado has a lot of major aerospace contractors located here and internships in his Junior Senior years are a good possibility.
 

cjrugger

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Sep 30, 2002
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I understand many people think the rankings are crap. The fact of the matter is perception is reality though and many suburban housewifes scoop up the magazine each year to see where to send little Johnny.

My question is: why has PSU’s rating fallen so much.

Tboyer says the way to improve the ranking is to spend a ton of money. Um, we’ve been doing that
 

Will68

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Oct 18, 2002
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My grandson got this as an incoming student last year. The award seems like a way to entice merit level students to enroll at PSU vs the many other choices (good marketing) :

The following is an outline of the Provost’s Award available at our 20 undergraduate campuses (campuses other than World Campus):
Provost's Award available at available at our 20 undergraduate campuses.
Student TypePenn State Years 1 and 2Penn State Years 3 and 4Total Value of Award
First-Year Baccalaureate (four-year degree)$5,000 per academic year ($2,500 per semester)$7,000 per academic year ($3,500 per semester)$24,000 four-year value
Eligibility Information
  • Consideration is given to Pennsylvania and non-Pennsylvania residents.
  • Recipients must be NEW undergraduate first-year students to the University.
  • Every student with an offer of admission to Penn State (other than World Campus) is considered for the award.
  • Students do not have to apply for the award – they are automatically considered.
  • Penn State recommends submitting a FAFSA, although it is not a requirement to be eligible for the award.
  • The award cannot be combined with the Discover Penn State Award.
Renewal Criteria
Students must:
  • Be enrolled at a Penn State Campus other than World Campus;
  • Be in good academic standing (cumulative GPA of 2.0) at the end of the spring semester of each academic year;
  • Complete a minimum of 24 credits per academic year.
  • Students may transition between Penn State’s 20 undergraduate campuses and retain the award.
Note: Students with offers of admission to World Campus are not eligible for this award. Additionally, students who plan to transition to World Campus are not eligible to retain the award.

 

RabidLion

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Aug 24, 2002
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They are pretty nice and they are neither burning down or sitting on land moving around in earthquakes. California is vastly overrated.
Ever been to those campuses? I have. Politics aside, there is no comparison.
 

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