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U.S. News shakes up rankings methodology — but top colleges held their spots

U.S. News shakes up rankings methodology — but top colleges held their spots

Higher Ed Dive

Jeremy Bauer-Wolf
September 18, 2023
U.S. News & World Report published its oft-criticized rankings of undergraduate colleges Monday, trumpeting methodology changes that evaluate social mobility outcomes after some institutions abandoned the product.
Despite U.S. News factoring in metrics like post-college earnings, the hierarchy of top-ranked universities went largely unchanged. Princeton University is still No. 1 on the list, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology kept the second place spot.
This suggests the U.S. News has preserved the core system many higher education leaders have objected to, even while the publication touted the methodological shifts as the most significant in its history.
What did U.S. News add to its calculations?
Higher education officials have put U.S. News in their crosshairs by arguing the publication calculates rankings in ways that don’t reflect their institutions’ value. But it’s taken even more heat since Yale and Harvard universities dropped out of the publication’s law school rankings in November, launching an exodus of sorts.
Other law schools, as well as several medical and a few undergraduate schools, have spurned the rankings. The undergraduate lists, called the Best Colleges rankings, are U.S. News’ bread-and-butter product, so institutions like Colorado College turning away from them made headlines.
For the 2024 undergraduate rankings, the publication introduced new social mobility measures in the wake of some of these institutions’ criticisms — that the lists don’t prioritize colleges that help historically marginalized students.
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