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The new US college rankings are out, which is great news for Princeton and Harvard

Reuters/Eduardo Munoz
Same old. So who really wins?
  • Amy X. Wang
By Amy X. Wang


Published This article is more than 2 years old.

Time to dance, ambitious teenagers (and parents). US News and World Report, the country’s preeminent ranking of colleges and universities, is out today (Sept. 12) with a new list.

The report made slight tweaks to its methodology this year—in order to be more precise on factors such as graduation rates and academic rigor—and it also now provides postgraduate salary data for 1,000 schools. Other than that, the rankings remain almost utterly the same. While the exact names have shifted a bit, a handful of Ivy League universities still sits at the top, with MIT and Stanford not far behind. (Global rankings, such as the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, reveal a little more change in the landscape.)

Below, the national US universities that made the cut for the 2018 US News top 10:

RankNational university
1Princeton University
2Harvard University
3University of Chicago (tie)
3Yale University (tie)
5Columbia University (tie)
5MIT (tie)
5Stanford (tie)
8University of Pennsylvania
9Duke University
10California Institute of Technology

And the top 10 liberal arts colleges:

RankLiberal arts college
1Williams College
2Amherst College
3Bowdoin College (tie)
3Swarthmore College (tie)
3Wellesley College (tie)
6Middlebury College (tie)
6Pomona College (tie)
8Carleton College (tie)
8Claremont McKenna College (tie)
10Davidson College (tie)
10Washington and Lee University (tie)

College rankings, as rabid as the fervor around them is every year, ultimately are somewhat vague and meaningless when it comes to helping students decide where they should really go to school. Critics point out that the assignment of numerical ranks to individual schools makes students—often impressionable 15- and 16-year-olds hungrily perusing the lists—focus far too much on superficial prestige, instead of real value and what is best for them on a personal level. (Their argument is perhaps bolstered by the fact that, as evident from the two lists above, many schools are so close in performance that half of them tie for the same spots.)

So go ahead and take in the new rankings, by all means—but also do it with a grain of salt.

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