With nearly 4000 total colleges and universities in the United States, students, counselors and parents alike may want to compare them. Everyone has their own preferences for a college, which may not align with traditionalized rankings. U.S. News, the largest and one of the most popular ranking services, attempts to standardize these factors.
Their 2024 ranking, released September 18, placed greater weight on diversity measurements and graduate school outcomes. It also attempted to balance out some universities like Columbia who refused to share their common data set – the raw student data including gender, race and major distribution – by supplementing with third-party sources.
So, did these new factors make a difference? Not exactly… at least not for the top 20. Princeton defended its first place throne, MIT remained second and Harvard and Stanford again tied for third – although Yale, who tied with them last year, dropped down to fifth.
Columbia rose from No. 18 to No. 12 to tie with fellow New York Ivy League Cornell, while UCLA and UC Berkeley also made comebacks this year, going from a tied No. 20 to a tied No. 15. The University of Florida remained the best school in Florida, rising one place to No. 28 which it shares with West Coast schools University of Southern California, UC San Diego and UC Davis. Other prominent Florida schools include Florida State, No. 53; University of Central Florida, No. 124 and University of Miami, No. 67.
Strada, a national educational organization, partnered with survey company Gallup to conduct a nationwide survey where they found 56% of employers did not place any importance on college rankings, and only 2% found it very important. The National Center for Educational Statistics, on the other hand, suggested that going to a more selective – and, in turn, more highly ranked – college may result in an 11-16% pay increase compared to co-workers who went to less selective schools.
College rankings may be fun to look at, but they vary somewhat year-by-year and website-by-website, suggesting they do not necessarily portray the most accurate picture. There is no one answer to the question of whether a college rank impacts your future career prospects.