Posted by at 4:51PM

According to a press release leaked at IvyGate and various other college-admission-related sites, the following is the USNews rankings for universities for next year.
1. Princeton University (NJ)
2. Harvard University (MA)
3. Yale University (CT)
4. Stanford University (CA)
5. California Institute of Technology
University of Pennsylvania
7. Massachusetts Inst. Of Technology
8. Duke University (NC)
9. Columbia University (NY)
University of Chicago
11. Dartmouth College (NH)
12. Cornell University (NY)
Washington University in St. Louis
14. Brown University (RI)
Johns Hopkins University (MD)
Northwestern University (IL)
…and so on.
Stanford was tied for fourth with Caltech and MIT last year, and now it’s in fourth by itself. Cal is 21 for those of you who care (I don’t).
A few key points:
(1) Stanford students tend to be highly anti-institutional with regard to rankings, acting as if they do not matter. But it’s hard to underestimate just how important USNews rankings are for when students choose colleges. It’s interesting that students will tend to choose Stanford over all schools except Harvard, Yale and MIT. It roughly splits with Princeton, according to “A Revealed Preference Ranking of U.S. Colleges and Universities.” (It’s a statistical paper, link here). It’s important that Stanford continues to compete for the very best students–the ones that also get into Harvard, or Princeton, or whatever. Harvard at the moment dominates what one calls the “cross-admits,” and of students getting into both Harvard and Yale, 86% go to Harvard. Wow.
(2) There’s an interesting chicken-and-egg problem with rankings. The rankings shape public perceptions, and those perceptions then come back and shape the rankings, and so on. The public would find it hard to believe that, say, Penn is #1, but having Harvard or Princeton at #1 reinforces the public’s idea. A Gallup poll conducted a couple of years ago had Stanford tied for third, behind Harvard and Yale, but second amongst the “highly educated,” interestingly.
(3) The rankings are mostly irrelevant for those already in college, but for high school students picking a school, they certainly do matter–witness the hundreds of thousands of copies of the magazine sold every year. Students want to go to the best, most prestigious school possible. The rankings help shape those perceptions. That’s why most people pick Harvard, the undisputed king of the castle when it comes to attracting top high school students. Is Harvard objectively better than other schools? Not really, but there has to be a reason why students want to go there so badly.
(4) According to an article in the Stanford Review printed last year, Stanford was ranked higher than it is now. It’s unclear why, but Stanford’s SAT profile is slightly lower than H and P, has more athletes (with indeterminate effect), and has slightly less in the top 10% of the class. But the most problematic measure is “alumni giving rate.” Stanford has always had a weaker alumni community than Princeton–compare 34% to 61%. But Stanford fund raised $911 million, THREE HUNDRED MILLION more than any other school (Harvard was second). Do you think President Hennessy cares if alumni donate if they’re breaking fundraising records anyway? Methinks not!
(5) While Stanford dominates the West Coast, they need to do a much better job competing on the East Coast.



  1. Fong Fong says:

    A more interesting ranking would be “WorldNews” rankings for universities. I am willing to bet my 2 cents Stanford is the winner.

  2. gre says:

    get latest computer science university rankings from
    GRE University Rankings


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