How college presidents define success

College rankings are of the least importance to university leaders

Measures of student achievement are the most important factors in evaluating the success of an institution, college presidents reported in the 2016 Gallup College and University Presidents Study

Gallup surveyed 663 U.S. college and university presidents on key institutional characteristics that reflect the views of college leaders throughout the country.

The survey found that presidents care much more about how students fare in college and beyond than achieving a high placement on one of the ubiquitous college rankings.  

Respondents said the following were "extremely important" factors:

Presidents also report that they actively track the metrics they think are important. All respondents reported that they monitor and discuss student enrollment on a yearly basis, while 97% track persistence rates. In addition, 89% track whether graduates have found employment and 86% track whether graduates are employed in their chosen field.

On the scale of factors rated "extremely important," placement on college rankings lists came in last.

Only 3% of presidents rated college rankings as extremely important—while 76% rated them as "somewhat important" or "not that important." According to Gallup, there is increasing scrutiny of college rankings, with many wondering whether they really reflect the experience and value that an institution provides (Calderon, Gallup, 8/24). 

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