'U.S. News' Adjusts Formula

There's a new ranking of social mobility, but don't expect those at the top to change.

September 9, 2019
 

U.S. News & World Report's college rankings are out today -- and they feature a new social mobility ranking.

Last year, U.S. News introduced a social mobility factor to its main rankings, but they didn't change much. Princeton University was No. 1 and Harvard University was No. 2. They had those ranks the prior year. And they have them this year as well.

The problem was that the ranking did not consider how many low-income students a college graduated; it considered how those low-income students were treated. So if a college didn't educate very many low-income students, but those who were there fared well, and the college treated them well, a college did well on the ranking.

This year the magazine applied the same formula, but it also created a separate social mobility rank -- using the same criteria it added to the overall rankings, but only those two criteria. Those factors are the Pell Grant graduation rate, and a comparison of the Pell rate to the non-Pell rate.

In the national universities category, the University of California campuses led, but not Berkeley and UCLA. The top university was UC's campus at Riverside, followed by Santa Cruz and Irvine. There was a three-way tie for fourth: Howard University, Rutgers University at Newark and the University of La Verne.

Princeton and Harvard are tied for 186.

In national liberal arts colleges, the top college is Cornell College (of Iowa), Agnes Scott College is second and Houghton College is third.

Another change in the methodology concerns the Carnegie classifications of colleges, which U.S. News uses to classify colleges. The most significant change was adding a "professional practice" category into doctoral universities. When factoring this into the U.S. News national universities ranking, the number of institutions increased by more than 25 percent, while the regional universities decreased by about 10 percent.

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