In the 11th week of college football, the playoff picture is beginning to take shape. Some of the usual suspects are favored to make it to the semifinal bowl games and get a crack at winning the national championship in Atlanta. But what if these teams were judged by a different standard? If they were ranked on their student success record rather than on football, would they still come out on top?
In football, competition dictates that only one team can win. For undergraduate students at these storied institutions, theoretically, all students can win, yet, in practice, they don’t. Which of our finest NCAA football teams play a good game when it comes to student success?
Eduventures took a look at the most current College Football Playoff Rankings at the time of publication (week 11). Here’s how the playoffs and the National Championship would play out if we ranked each top-performing football university’s performance in order of its Eduventures 2017 Student Success Score.
Keep in mind the key aspects of our student success ratings system:
- It’s built on a combined score of first-year retention and six-year graduation rates
- An absolute high score doesn’t make you an automatic winner
- You get points for scoring better than your predicted score based on your institutional characteristics
- You get points for demonstrated improvement on retention and six-year graduation
- All scores are combined to create an index that ranges from 0 to 100
- It’s a score that’s designed to focus you on your own performance
If you would like more information about our Student Success Ratings methodology you can read about it here.
In general, the top 25 football schools run the gamut in their performance compared to all schools nationally. All of these teams fell into two categories of institutions: public research and private research universities. For reference, the top scoring public research institution nationally scored 72 out of a possible 100 points, and the worst scored only 25. Among all private research universities the top score was 84 and the low score 28. Among our top 25 football schools, the top score was a respectable 63 and the low score of 36 was well above the worst in the nation.
These top 25 institutions as a group mirror the same disparate levels of performance on student success we see nationally. Here’s what the play-by-play might look like if they were ranked based on their student success records:
The University of Georgia is victorious!
Contention for the national title is tight, but Georgia pulls through in the end. While Georgia had a rough loss to Auburn on the field in week 11, off the field, the Bulldogs score a solid 63 points in our index. Georgia performed admirably, besting not only its football peers, but many of its academic peers, too—the average student success score for all public research institutions we rated was 47. It’s built this success on its ability to outperform its predicted score and on an 11-point improvement in six-year graduation rates over the 10-year period we studied.
Several private universities nipped at Georgia’s heels.
Texas Christian (62) and Notre Dame (62) had a good season and made the semifinals. Miami (59) bested Stanford (57) to go to a playoff bowl game. Our private research institutions represented in the NCAA College Football Playoff rankings just outdo their academic peers as a whole; this category of institution scores 56 on average.
Solid seasons, but many opportunities for improvement.
While a number of universities turned in some solid performances in student success, they haven’t broken away from the pack. These institutions are hovering just around average for their categories in student success. Auburn (55) and Clemson (54) were closest to breaking away, while USC (51), Northwestern (51), and Wisconsin (51) were flirting with the low end of mediocrity.
Lagging just behind.
A slew of top football contenders lag behind on student success performance. Michigan State (48) and Oklahoma (48) were close to getting their heads above water, but just didn’t make some critical plays that would have secured a few extra wins. Penn State (43) and Mississippi State (43) played some sloppier games and ended up on the wrong side of a .500 season. More than bad luck is at play here; these teams are considering a full review of their team’s most effective strategies.
The first shall be last (or close to last).
Alabama (40), the number one ranked team in the NCAA Football Playoff Rankings and odds on favorite to win in the National Championship in Atlanta, comes in tied for 23 out of 25 on student success. Alabama certainly has academic peers who do worse (the low student success score in the public research category is 25), but they have much work to do to improve. As does Michigan (36), which comes in second to last in the College Football Playoff Rankings, and last among its football peers on student success. Both Alabama and Michigan are dogged by lackluster performance in the improvement of first-year retention. These are teams that must review the fundamentals of their student success teams and strategies to make a move next season.
Interested in knowing how your institution scores on student success? Click here to find your score.