An Alternative List of 2013 U.S. News College Rankings

In an earlier post, we offered an adjusted list of the U.S. News rankings for 2012, after trying to filter out statistically some of the distortions in the rankings that result from an over-emphasis on financial factors.

For the adjusted list in 2013 we will take a simpler approach for the top 53 national universities.   We will use the magazine’s two most important categories–academic reputation and graduation rates–plus a separate metric for the percentage of classes with fewer than 20 students.  The adjusted percentages (rounded) assigned to each category are 43 percent for academic reputation (versus the magazine’s 22.5 percent); 38 percent for graduation rate (versus the magazine’s 20 percent for graduation and retention rates); and 19 percent for classes with fewer than 20 students (versus 6 percent).

The percentages for the first two categories were derived on the basis of adjusting them to a total score of 100 using only three categories.

One purpose of our adjusted lists is to show where there is probably a value-added component versus the rankings; another is to show where some universities might be ranked too high because of their financial resources.  In general, the adjusted rankings show that more private than public institutions are overrated significantly because of the magazine’s emphasis on financial metrics.

It is one thing to assign points for the effects of ample funding (smaller class size, better faculty), but the impact of funding is magnified when the magazine also assigns points simply for having a lot of money.  What the magazine does is analogous to a well-heeled college applicant with a high SAT not only receiving credit for his high score but also for the money behind it.

As was the case in 2012, the University of California Berkeley and the University of Michigan rank significantly higher when the excessive financial factors are eliminated and the focus turns to grad rates and class size, plus academic reputation.  Other public universities that have higher adjusted rankings in 2013 are Penn State, Wisconsin, Virginia, UC Irvine, William & Mary, and UT Austin.

We have chosen to emphasize small class size because this feature is especially important to prospective honors students, many of whom are attracted to programs which offer classes that are much smaller than the average class size at the universities hosting the honors programs.

The list below shows the U.S. News ranking first, followed by the adjusted ranking, of the top 53 universities in the 2013 rankings, public and private:

Harvard (1), adjusted to (1)

Princeton (1), adjusted to (4)

Yale (3), adjusted to (2)

Columbia (4), adjusted to (5)

Chicago (4), adjusted to (10)

Stanford (6), adjusted to (3)

MIT (6), adjusted to (6)

Penn (8), adjusted to (7)

Duke (8), adjusted to (9)

Dartmouth (10), adjusted to (12)

Caltech (10), adjusted to (22)

Northwestern (12), adjusted to (11)

Johns Hopkins (13), adjusted to (13)

Washington U (14), adjusted to (16)

Cornell (15), adjusted to (14)

Brown (15), adjusted to (8)

Rice (17), adjusted to (18)

Vanderbilt (17), adjusted to (20)

Notre Dame (17), adjusted to (21)

Emory (20), adjusted to (24)

Georgetown (21), adjusted to (17)

UC  Berkeley (21), adjusted to (15)

Carnegie Mellon (23), adjusted to (23)

UCLA (24), adjusted to (26)

USC (24), adjusted to (28)

Virginia (24), adjusted to (19)

Wake Forest (27), adjusted to (34)

Tufts (28), adjusted to (27)

Michigan (29), adjusted to (25)

North Carolina (30), adjusted to (33)

Boston College (31), adjusted to (31)

NYU (32), adjusted to (32)

Brandeis (33), adjusted to (29)

William & Mary (33), adjusted to (30)

Rochester (33), adjusted to (36)

Georgia Tech (36), adjusted to (43)

Case Western Reserve (37), adjusted to (48)

Lehigh (38), adjusted to (47)

UC Davis (38), adjusted to (41)

UC San Diego (38), adjusted to (40)

UC Santa Barbara (41), adjusted to (42)

RPI (41), adjusted to (46)

Wisconsin (41), adjusted to (35)

UC Irvine (44), adjusted to (39)

University of Miami (44), adjusted to (53)

Penn State (46), adjusted to (37)

UT Austin (46), adjusted to (44)

Illinois (46), adjusted to (49)

Yeshiva (46), adjusted to (50)

Washington (46), adjusted to (51)

Boston University (51), adjusted to (38)

George Washington (51), adjusted to (45)

Tulane (51), adjusted to (52)










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