WINCHESTER — Shenandoah University is ranked 241st out of 389 national universities in U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 Best Colleges rankings.

The annual rankings were released Monday.

SU ranked 263rd out of 399 national universities in the report last year.

This is the fourth year the Winchester-based SU has been considered in the national ranking system.

SU tied for the 241st spot with seven other schools — West Virginia University, Florida A&M University, Immaculata University, Oklahoma City University, University of Findlay, New Mexico State University and Utah State University.

To qualify for the national university ranking, institutions are defined as “offering a full range of undergraduate majors along with master’s and doctoral programs, while emphasizing faculty research.”

SU’s total overall score jumped by 16 points in the ranking report, moving up from a score of 29 out of 100 in 2019 to 45 out of 100 this year.

The 2021 ranking was based on pre-pandemic data from the fall 2019 semester and earlier. U.S. News & World Report calculates a school’s overall score and rank based on the sum of weighted, normalized values across 17 factors of academic quality.

Gauging the metrics of the annual report changed a bit this year with a stronger focus on graduation rates, retention rates and social mobility indicators. U.S. News also gave less weight in the rankings to SAT/ACT scores, high school class standing and alumni giving rates.

SU also ranked 303rd out of 389 schools in U.S. News’ rankings for Top Performers on Social Mobility. Last year SU ranked 335th on social mobility.

The university said in a statement that it improved its social mobility ranking by enrolling and graduating more economically disadvantaged students.

Some of SU’s other areas of improvement that determine a school’s ranking include increasing its first-year student retention rate from 81% to 82%, its SAT/ACT 25th-75th percentile scores of 980-1190 to 1000-1200 and its graduation/retention rank from 219 to 216.

SU Provost Adrienne Bloss said the university does not fixate on rankings, but it does appreciate the growing focus of the report on retention and graduation rates and social mobility.

“These areas are very important to us and we put a lot of effort into them,” Bloss said.

The report notes that SU has an average six-year graduation rate of 60% with a 9:1 student to faculty ratio. The school also has a 76% acceptance rate, according to U.S. News.

Virginia universities that made it in the top 100 of the report include University of Virginia at No. 26, William & Mary at No. 39 and Virginia Tech at No. 74.

— Contact Anna Merod at amerod@winchesterstar.com

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