Skip to navigationSkip to content
Reuters/Eduardo Munoz
Same old. So who really wins?

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

By Amy X. Wang

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:

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

And the top 10 liberal arts colleges:

Rank Liberal arts college
1 Williams College
2 Amherst College
3 Bowdoin College (tie)
3 Swarthmore College (tie)
3 Wellesley College (tie)
6 Middlebury College (tie)
6 Pomona College (tie)
8 Carleton College (tie)
8 Claremont McKenna College (tie)
10 Davidson College (tie)
10 Washington 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.