11 September 2018
The America’s Best Colleges ranking, published by US News, has for many years been a standard reference for prospective students, administrators and stakeholders. It has, however, sometimes been criticised for methodological shortcomings. The reliance on peer assessment might encourage a bias towards richer private universities and it has been claimed that using standardised test scores as an indicator results in privileging those students who can afford expensive coaching.
This year US News has made several changes to its methodology to create a ranking that will reflect efforts to promote social mobility. There are two new indicators of this year, the number of low-income Pell Grant recipients who graduate within six years, and the number compared to all students
The weightings for average six-year graduation rate, average first-year retention, the expert opinion of top academics and high school counsellors. standardised tests, and high school rank have been reduced and acceptance rate has been removed.
Some universities have benefitted from these changes. The University of California Los Angeles and the University of California Riverside have risen from 21st to 19th and 124th to 85th respectively.
At the top of the rankings there is still very little change and the higher ranks include familiar places.
The top six national universities are:
1. Princeton University
2. Harvard University
3= Columbia University
3= Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
3= University of Chicago
3= Yale University.
The top four liberal arts colleges are:
1. Williams College
2. Amherst College
3= Swarthmore College
3= Wellesley College.