Improvements Tied to Student Retention, Graduation, and More
Georgian Court University climbed more than 30 spots in the most recent U.S. News & World Report rankings, moving to #108 from #139 a year ago. The 31-point move in the rankings is the greatest leap among the 12 New Jersey schools ranked in the 2019 edition of the publication’s Best Regional Universities North.
The rise, one of the biggest posted by the 170 colleges and universities in the category, also lands Georgian Court at #82 for social mobility, making it a top performer among the ranked institutions.
“This is a direct reflection of our progress in many areas and the hard work that goes into improving the way we serve and support students from all walks of life,” said Georgian Court President Joseph R. Marbach, Ph.D.
He noted that student retention and graduation rate were among the reasons for the institution’s dramatic jump—in addition to academics. U.S. News editors give the most weight to schools’ success in retaining and graduating students with six years.
“The 15 measures of academic quality reviewed by U.S. News are important to us, and so are the critical issues of access, opportunity, and affordability,” said Dr. Marbach “We are privileged to have standout programs and committed faculty who teach and mentor. It’s a combination that contributes to the success of the incoming first-year student as well as the graduating senior.”
Among other factors that account for the ranking increase are slightly higher SATs and the percentage of GCU first-year students who graduated in the top 25 percent of their high school class.
In recent years, GCU also has seen steady improvement in retention—that is, ensuring that students return each year to continue their studies at Georgian Court. For students who entered in Fall 2017 and returned in 2018 (the period examined by U.S. News), GCU’s average first-year retention rate was 77 percent, three points higher than the national average.
And as of Fall 2019, retention has climbed to 80 percent for GCU students who started college last year.
Behind the Numbers
The gains are important given what is behind the numbers. Georgian Court’s historic mission to educate the underserved means that about 45 percent of GCU students qualify for Pell Grants and some 42 percent are the first in their families to go to college. For many of them, earning a degree is critical for social mobility, which allows them to expand the possibilities for their lives and careers.
GCU was also measured on class size, and is particularly proud of the way class structures lead to meaningful interactions with faculty.
“A more personalized learning environment allows students ample time with their professors and opportunities to regularly discuss their career paths and academic progress and to conduct research with their faculty mentors,” said Dr. Marbach.
By their senior year, more than 30 percent of GCU’s students have participated in or plan to engage in research activities alongside their professors. In addition, 69 percent of seniors complete an internship, co-op, field experience, student teaching, or clinical placement—all high-impact practices that lead to better results for students.