After changes to the US News college rankings, several public universities moved up the list

Several public universities rose while many private ones fell in the U.S. News & World Report undergraduate rankings released Monday — a sign not of their changing grades but of a changing formula for the annual ranking ritual that has faced intense criticism in recent years.

Four of the six schools ranked 47th among the best national universities list Explained the rapid ups and downs. For Virginia Tech overall, it marked a sudden 15-place jump from its ranking a year ago. Texas A&M University, overall, jumped 20 spots to No. 47. But for the private University of Rochester, that ranking represents an 11-place drop. Wake Forest University, a private institution, also fell 18 steps to land on the site.

The private Lehigh University and the public University of Georgia tied for 47th, but their rankings did not change much.

A change in the way US News rated schools led to the protest. For example, it no longer considers class size or alumni giving, but it has added a new factor that tracks the graduation rates of first-generation college students at national universities. As always, the formula continues to rely heavily on peer-reviewed surveys that critics say favor long-term perceptions of wealth and prestige.

US News lists are a perennial subject of conversation and fascination in higher education, eliciting envy, snickering or shrugging, depending on the perspective of school leaders, alumni and the students who track them.

US News College Rankings Attract New Complaints and Competitors

Last fall and winter, several major law and medical schools fed up with the rankings announced they would no longer cooperate. Their agitation influenced US News’ lists of graduate and professional programs published in the spring. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona cheered them on.

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“It’s time to stop worshiping at the false altar of American news and world reporting,” Cardona said in March. “It’s time to focus on what really matters: delivering value and upward mobility.”

But most major colleges and universities do not follow this at the undergraduate level. One exception is Columbia University, which announced in June that it would no longer cooperate with the U.S. News’ undergraduate rankings.

At the time, Columbia officials lamented the “overwhelming influence” the rankings had with prospective students. They also criticized how the ranking “turns a university’s profile into a composite of data types” and “how much is lost in this approach”. Their report followed an in-depth internal audit for an Ivy League university in New York. In 2022, Columbia admitted to misrepresenting key data about class size and faculty credentials as it rose to second place on a list of national universities.

But while the schools declined to answer US News’ questions, the ranking publication uses publicly available information and continues to add them to its lists.

Last year, U.S. News ranked Columbia 18th in the National University Rankings. On Monday, it tied for 12th with Cornell University (which was ranked 17th) and the University of Chicago (which previously ranked sixth).

There were a few surprises at the top of the list. Princeton University is in first place, Massachusetts Institute of Technology is in second place, and Harvard and Stanford universities are in third place. This mirrored last year’s rankings. Yale University slipped slightly from third to fifth place.

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But in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, the new ranking formula created several big changes. Among them, public leader University of Maryland rounded out the top 50, rising nine spots to 46th. American University, which was ranked 72nd earlier, slipped to 105th, and Howard University, which was ranked 89th, slipped to 115th. Both of those DC universities are private. George Mason University, Virginia’s largest public university, rose from 137th to 105th.

Howard’s advisor, Anthony K. Voodoo said the formula omits factors that previously favored the university, including class size. On the low ranking, he said: “There’s really been no change in the way we do business or the quality of our programs.”

American University said its graduation and retention rates have remained stable, and questioned why the rankings show such large swings. “Methodological choices and unexplained swings in rankings mean previous methods are flawed and require a dramatic overhaul, or this year’s results are unreliable because they are so different from previously produced US news,” said AU spokesman Matt Bennett. Report.

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