College rankings: they’re as contentious as they are important, and just the thought of them is enough to make your college or university president’s hair turn white. Today, academic institutions are graded on everything from most LGBT-friendly to top study abroad opportunities to best dorms, and it’s essential that you and the rest of the staff are working to raise your places in the rankings.
Whether you’re sitting pretty on top of the charts (looking at you, you lucky Yalies) or trying to crack the top 50 in your state, college rankings matter for raising funds, boosting applications and keeping alumni involved in your institution. And you, librarian, can do a lot to help your school out. Here’s how the library can help boost college rankings.
When assessing the quality of an institution of higher ed, the Princeton Review, US News and World Report and all of their other cohorts don’t just look to see what colleges get the most applications and graduate students into top-paying jobs. Instead, they look at things like the teaching environment, global reputation, faculty/student ratio and ties to business and industry. What’s one of the most meaningful ways a campus can increase their outcomes in those areas? Research.
Whether it’s curating an incredible collection of contemporary ceramics (to shout out to this blog writer’s alma mater—hi, Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery!) or funding students’ research projects around the world, a strong research arm of your institution can help get you into the upper echelon of higher ed.
Collaborating in and around the campus
We’ve talked before about how to get involved in the classroom, but it’s worth repeating. When you work with staff and professors to take learning out of the classroom and into the campus, you’ve got an opportunity to differentiate your institution from others you’re competing in the ranks against.
Consider collaborating (or even merging, like at Hamilton College!) with your campus IT department to centralize communications and expand your offerings. Think of ways to help students out inside and outside the classroom. Whether it’s holding office hours to help students set up their cameras for Film 101 or assisting a professor in helping to create an interactive art installation for a high-achieving art student’s senior thesis, you’ve got plenty of opportunity to get involved.
Engaging foreign students
Today’s universities are more diverse than ever, and some of the best have strong programs both for studying abroad and attracting students from around the world. Because of this, it’s essential that universities have resources available for their world-travelers on campus. Whether it’s hosting a meetup every month for the south Asian student union or providing a space for the Chinese department to hold language tutoring sessions, the library can provide these resources and beyond.
And you know it wouldn’t be a Mango blog if we didn’t bring up how important a connected campus is—especially as it relates to engaging people from all over the world! Providing students with the cutting-edge, cloud-based language-learning softwares that can help them learn on the go is a simple and powerful way to develop advanced academic skills and encourage students to travel around the world. What does this do? Why, it helps spread word of the great things you’re doing on campus—and believe us, the Princeton Review is listening.
With a few tweaks to what you’re already doing, you can help your institution rise to the top of the college rankings. But your library provides a lot more value than can be encapsulated by a place on the charts: take a look at our white paper, The Value of the Library on Campus Today, for more on how academic libraries are keeping colleges and universities thriving.