Stony Brook University has been moving up in the ranks.

U.S. News & World Report rated Stony Brook University No. 80 among national colleges and universities. That is 17 places higher than the school’s No. 97 rank last year, and its highest  U.S. News ranking so far.

“While we are appreciative and pleased with the new data, Stony Brook has become a world-class institution not by managing toward rankings but rather by managing toward mission — exemplary academics, cutting-edge research, state-of-the-art health care, economic vibrancy, and celebrating diversity,” Stony Brook University President Samuel M. Stanley Jr. stated in a press release.

Allen Pierre-Louis, a physics and astronomy student at Stony Brook, commends the university for its advances.

“I think the upgrade is well deserved considering the fact that our school has always had programs that are competitive and highly ranked, like our nuclear physics and medical programs,” Pierre-Louis said.

Yet the experience differs from student to student.

“I feel like Stony Brook lived up to it, but even in the one year since my enrollment I can feel the effects of the [budget] cuts they’re doing,” political science and philosophy double major Stelio Papazoglou said. “A lot of my teachers are being replaced with inexperienced professors who aren’t familiar with the topic because the old professor was let out.”

The report by U.S. News is only one of the more recent bouts of progress for the school. Stony Brook University has also recently moved ahead in rankings by the Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education College Rankings 2019 and Money Magazine. But how the college achieved these advances is complex.

The colleges listed in this particular rankings category offer a full range of undergraduate majors, as well as master’s and doctoral programs. The methodology that U.S. News & World Report used to give Stony Brook University its No. 80 ranking is based on 16 different measures of academic quality including first-year student retention, graduation rates and the strength of the faculty.

“This year, improved graduation rates, smaller class sizes, and higher reputation scores from peers and high school counselors lifted the University’s overall ranking,” the press release by Stony Brook University stated.

Stony Brook University has a 72 percent graduation rate, the press release mentions. But the school has a four-year graduation rate of 48 percent, a six-year graduation rate of 68.6 percent and an eight-year graduation rate of 70.5 percent, according to College Factual, a company that gathers helps match prospective students to colleges and majors.

This is still comfortably ahead of the national graduation rates, which are 33.4 percent for four years, 47.6 percent for six years and 49.2 percent for eight years, also according to College Factual.

The press release also stated that class size was a factor in the ranking they earned. Stony Brook University’s student to teacher ratio is 18:1. This is the same as the national average college student to faculty ratio of 18:1, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Less than half (43.2 percent) of Stony Brook University classes have less than 20 students, however, according to U.S. News. Also, 33.1 percent have a class size of 20-49 students and 23.7 percent had a class size of 50 or more students.

According to David Taylor, an associate professor of sustainability, his class sizes have doubled in the past year despite Stony Brook’s ascent in ranking.

“I went from having about 45 students to now 60 in one room,” Taylor said.

Stony Brook University had a freshman class size of 3,167 as of the fall of 2017. There was a total of 17,364 undergraduate students and 8,625 graduate students at this time.

The press release also stated that “the University’s ranking among high school counselors improved by 20 places.”

Stony Brook was also rated No. 135 nationally by the Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education College Rankings 2019, a 12-place bump from last year.

Money Magazine also named Stony Brook University the 34th best college in the U.S.

“While Stony Brook recently did increase in its ranks, I’m afraid that the education we’re receiving now is not quite at the level we are being recognized for,” Papazoglou said.

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