SUNY New Paltz has risen in the U.S. News & World Report 2015 college rankings of public higher-education institutions from number six to number four. Additionally, SUNY New Paltz currently ranks number 25 among the best public and private universities in the north, an improvement from number 33 last year.
David Eaton, vice president of enrollment management here at New Paltz, spoke fondly of the school’s achievements.
“We weren’t even in tier one a year ago, and now with all the publics and privates, we’re number 25 in the north,” said Eaton. “And of the publics, we’re number four. It’s kind of rewarding.”
Eaton specified that according to national data and New Paltz’s own research on student decisions, these rankings are not major considerations for prospective students. He acknowledged the complexity of the college admissions process, alluding to factors besides national rankings, such as standardized test scores and numerical data.
“Students don’t really look at the publications as a driving force behind college choice,” Eaton said. “It’s much more complex than that. I don’t think that it has a lot to do with admissions from a student’s perspective.”
However, Eaton noted that one influential group of people does pay attention to such statistics — parents.
“You know who I think looks at them? Parents. And parents are influential,” Eaton said. “Beyond that, I think it influences guidance counselors because they live in that world.”
According to Eaton, these statistics provide a third-party perspective for the students and faculty on campus. Essentially, improved rankings let SUNY officials know that their achievements are recognized, and their efforts to improve the institution are successful.
“I live in the Kingston area, and when I go to the gym in the morning I see friends and colleagues who are unassociated with the university but know that I am,” said Eaton. “And they read the papers and they say, ‘Wow, I saw that your rankings went up. That’s really impressive!’ So you know that it resonates out there, and again it’s a third-party endorsement that we’re doing well.”
Eaton once again reinforced the complexity of the situation, describing the “self-perpetuating cycle” to which these improved rankings contribute.
“Our students come, our reputation grows…[and] the faculty can teach at much higher levels because they’re teaching to a group of students who really have the capacity and the background to function at that level,” he said. “And so that’s kind of what we’ve found ourselves in.”
Most importantly, Eaton cited SUNY New Paltz’s outstanding faculty and comfortable, accepting environment, which helps to foster personal growth for students both inside and outside the classroom.
“The other part of [the college admissions process] is that students come here with high expectations of what the school will provide inside and outside of the classroom,” Eaton said. “[These include] how you’ll be treated, how you’ll be reinforced and nurtured and coached, and that’s another element of what makes institutions that are successful more successful.”