Student Success

Utah Dethrones Georgia: Eduventures 2018 College Football Student Success Ratings

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It’s officially crunch time for college football! Players and coaches are buckling down to get the best performances they can as they head into the heart of the season. Teams must brush off early losses or lackluster performances to have a chance at the playoffs.

This past week, the NCAA Selection Committee revealed its initial playoff ranking on the top 25 teams it thinks have a shot at the title. That means it’s time for Eduventures to give you a peek into our forthcoming 2019 Student Success Ratings to see which of these top-ranked, football-playing institutions are also giving their students a better shot at success beyond the field of play.

If winning on the field was based on improving student success off the field, who would be our pick?

Applying Eduventures Student Success Ratings to Football’s Top 25

If the 2019 Student Success Ratings were applied to the Top 25-ranked college football teams at the time of this post,  to win the championship!

College Football Student Success Ratings

As a reminder, Eduventures’ Student Success Ratings measure an institution’s performance given a predicted student success score. This score measures how well the school does on student outcomes based on its unique institutional characteristics and student populations. Our methodology also takes into consideration long-term retention and graduation trends.

Our ratings are an appropriately complex way for institutions to measure themselves within context and history. The purpose is to find institutions that are putting into practice student success initiatives that make a difference. Institutions can score up to 100 points and the average score for 2019 is 54.

Winning at Student Success

If they were based on student success, playoff games themselves would be high quality affairs. Here’s how they might play out in our imaginary scenario:

Student Success College Football Playoff

Utah (Student Success Score of 76) has no easy path to the championship. In its first bowl game, Utah dethrones Georgia, our 2017 champion (score of 70) with a close win in the Orange Bowl. On the heels of this victory, Utah takes on Fresno State (73), who barely nipped Florida (72) at the finish in an even closer contest in the Cotton Bowl. By just a few rating points, Utah’s score (76) wins the Student Success Championship in the end.

Even though Utah comes out of one of football’s power conferences, it hasn’t historically been a power football team. These conferences—the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, and SEC— are, as usual, well-represented in the current Top 25 ranking. In addition, schools from the Mountain West and American Football conferences make an appearance.

How do the conferences stack up as a whole in terms of football and student success?

Football Conference Student Success Performance Conference and Playoff High, Low, and Average

When we look at football as a whole, the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), with an average Student Success score of 62, and the American conference (average of 61), outperform the other conferences in the tournament when it comes to student retention and graduation. By comparison, the Big 12 and the Big Ten both have average scores of 52.

Given this context, we see some stellar performers among the Top 25-ranked teams in our imaginary Student Success Playoffs:

  • Utah, Fresno State, and Florida are among the best performers in any conference. Other teams, like North Carolina State (Student Success score of 64) and University of Central Florida (63) are beating the average in higher-scoring conferences. Oklahoma (64) and Iowa (58) are at or near the top of lower-scoring conferences.
  • We also find some teams that may have success on the football field but show an opportunity to improve upon their student success scores. Syracuse (Student Success score of 56) and Louisville (51) are turning in middling student success performances, but to be fair, they are in the tough ACC where standards are high. Washington State (55) is also trying to inch ahead in the Pac-12.
  • Mississippi State (Student Success score of 49) maintains a lead over Missouri (43) in the SEC, and Texas (47) is doing the same over Oklahoma State (40).
  • Perhaps most noteworthy, there are three teams that have not made it into the real-life football playoff rankings, but would make our student success championships if they did. These are: University of South Florida (77), Florida State (73), and San Diego State (77).

The Bottom Line

It is, of course, a silly diversion to compare the success of college football teams and the success of students as a whole at institutions. Yet, this small glimpse into Eduventures Student Success Ratings always serves to remind us that institutions with some of the largest most successful athletics programs in the country can also be successful at working with all of their students. The opposite is equally true.

Student Success Ratings help us identify the top performers so that we may learn more about the practices that set them apart from their peers. Find your institution's Student Success Rating in our 2017 ratings. Stay tuned for more information on Eduventures updated Student Success Ratings coming in early 2019!

Follow us on Twitter @EduventuresInc for updates of our Student Success Top 25 after each week's games!

See our previous football ratings from 2017, 2016, and 2015.

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