I had the opportunity to attend a few universities that were rated "higher" than Fordham but am extremely happy with my choice. Fordham's national reputation WILL catch up with what the university deserves. I was thoroughly impressed with faculty, academic culture and student body. Students don't take themselves too seriously, as if they were ivy league jerks, but are intellectually curious.
In the city, there are pretty much three schools with three distinct reputations and student niches, NYU, Columbia and Fordham. Fordham maintains a niche and is respected as one of the major NYC institutions.
The university has some work ahead of it, though. The school is in the midst of a stategic plan to vault itself in the rankings by 2016. With some intensive capital improvements (a few 100 mil in new dorms, buildings, etc), increased scholarship opportunities, growth of endowment and higher admission selectivity,
Fordham will improve in rankings, probably cracking the top 50 national university in US News. The school will never give the necessary amount of money to non-teaching research as this departs from its Jesuit roots of educating students. This is problematic for a school hell-bent on increasing its reputation. Top tier schools, many of which Fordham aspires to mimick like Columbia, U Chicago, Georgetown (also Jesuit, but has toned down the Catholic fervor), Boston U, GWU, NYU, UPenn-- all focus on faculty research as a major part of the university's statement. This will not happen at Fordham as it will focus its resources on teaching.
Sports wise, the university also has big plans. In 2009, they announced their plans to leave the Patriot league in football and will begin awarding 60 football scholarships. My guess is they want to be like Temple, an independent BCS program that bounces around playing (mostly losing) against big programs. This is fine, the university has a great football tradition. Maybe they will catch lightning in a bottle? Unlikeley, but possible.
Basketball is far from anything but a basket-case. The school is in a major rebuilding as an A10 school in NYC. The A10 is dreaming for a Fordham success and the alumni network is getting fed up with average to below average record. Hopefully, they will become a major program like St Johns and get some good national exposure.
Knowing a thing or two about the schools future is helpful in looking for a what your experience might include. If you are looking for a party school to drink every night of the week, you probably won't last too long at Fordham- Hofstra or St Johns might be a better fit, unless of course you're a genius, then by all means, more power to ya! If you're looking for a stuffy, elitist atmosphere and you wear polo shirts with white sweaters tied around your neck, Columbia might also be a better fit. If you are more artsy, try Fordham's lincoln center campus or NYU.
Fordham is a strong academic school filled with smart kids that also know how to blow off some steam in NYC.
This school is a great place to spend four years. I was sold on the school when I visited it. My suggestion is to visit Fordham, or any school for that matter, and get a pulse for what the school is all about. I promise, Fordham will impress you.