College Rankings Measure More Than Just Academics

Dear Editor, 

So much disparity in the recently released QS ranking!

For example, Edinburgh University is the 17th best in the world but only 19th in the United Kingdom; St Andrews University is 4th in the U.K.but 83rd in the world. The reason for the disparity is that national league tables seem to focus on factors which contribute to what you might call the “student experience,” such as the student-to-staff ratio, the drop-out rate and the quality of the accommodations.

For example, the, UC Riverside campus has a distinctly Scottish feel. All residence halls at the UC Riverside are named for landmarks in Scotland, including Aberdeen-Inverness and Pentland Hills. Student athletes compete as UC Riverside Highlanders in the NCAA Division I Big West Conference.

The school’s original mascot was a live Scottish terrier; today, sports teams are supported by a kilt-clad bear named Scotty. Members of the Highlander Pep Band don plaid berets and sashes as they play the “Brave Scots” fight song at sports matches, and students who play the bagpipes or drums can join the UCR Pipe Band as well.

At UC Santa Cruz, nearly 100 percent of freshmen live on campus and choose one of 10 residential colleges to join.  It is nationally renowned for astronomy and space science programs. UCSC is part of a 10-year research project with NASA to study space travel, air traffic management and nanotechnology; UCSC is noted for offering one of the highest percentages of engineering graduate degrees to women.

Students who own RVs can also choose to reside in Camper Park. Students living in residence halls may only have overnight guests 15 times a school year, for a maximum of three nights each visit. On campus, there are more than 25 miles of hiking and jogging trails. For fun, students can tour Dead Central, a room full of Grateful Dead memorabilia donated by the band to UCSC, or explore the small beach town of Santa Cruz. There are rides and games on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and swimming, sailing and kayaking on the bay.


— Richard Thompson

Alumnus ’83