US News and World Report university rankings

Submitted by GoWings2008 on September 9th, 2014 at 10:47 AM

US News and World Report released its updated National University rankings with Michigan making #29 on the list.  Northwestern kicks off the B1G at #13 and the next school after UM being Illinois at a tie for 42, Wisconsin at 47 and Ohio State at a tie for 54.  Link:  Additionally, another list for top Engineering schools was released with UM coming in with a tie at #7, the top B1G school being Illinois at 6.



September 9th, 2014 at 11:01 AM ^

Public schools are not allowed in the Top 25 ranking for as long as I can remember.

They have a separate "Top 25 Public Schools" list that keeps the plebes from making too much noise.

I always find Georgia Tech to be incredibly overrated. Not impressed by their grads at all.

In one of the world rankings, there are also some bizarre results, like UCLA and another UC school rated above Michigan academically. Sorry, no.


September 9th, 2014 at 2:01 PM ^

Then why is Cal #20 and UCLA and UVA tied for #23?

Also UCLA and Cal (assume that's the other UC school you're referringto) have consistently been ranked ahead of UofM in these things for quite some time.

Uncle Rico

September 10th, 2014 at 8:23 AM ^

Went to UM for undergrad and GT for grad, both in engineering.  Have worked in industry with grads from Berkeley, Stanford, etc., and helped with recruiting trips.  I can assure you that Georgia Tech is every bit the school as the others.  Once your in the top 10-20, it's more about the student.


September 9th, 2014 at 10:54 AM ^

that USNWR uses many factors for their rankings.  Academics is only a small portion of the ranking.  Quality of life, tuition cost, setting and many other factors are included.

Higher Times is a more reputable ranking in terms of pure acedemics.  Compare that to High Times ranking which I would think we rank very high as well but I have not data to support this.


September 9th, 2014 at 10:54 AM ^

Nothing new here:  the USNWR rankings use an algorithm that is heavily weighted toward private schools.  Public universities are always ranked low in this, the Wal-Mart of college rankings.


September 9th, 2014 at 12:41 PM ^

In 1996, Gerhard Casper, the president of Stanford, wrote to the then editor of USNWR, James Fallows, about the fallacy of their rankings.  His words then still apply:

"  I am extremely skeptical that the quality of a university - any more than the quality of a magazine - can be measured statistically. However, even if it can, the producers of the U.S. News rankings remain far from discovering the method. Let me offer as prima facie evidence two great public universities: the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and the University of California-Berkeley. These clearly are among the very best universities in America - one could make a strong argument for either in the top half-dozen. Yet, in the last three years, the U.S. News formula has assigned them ranks that lead many readers to infer that they are second rate: Michigan 21-24-24, and Berkeley 23-26-27.

      Such movement itself - while perhaps good for generating attention and sales - corrodes the credibility of these rankings and your magazine itself. Universities change very slowly - in many ways more slowly than even I would like. Yet, the people behind the U.S. News rankings lead readers to believe either that university quality pops up and down like politicians in polls, or that last year's rankings were wrong but this year's are right (until, of course, next year's prove them wrong). What else is one to make of Harvard's being #1 one year and #3 the next, or Northwestern's leaping in a single bound from #13 to #9? And it is not just this year. Could Johns Hopkins be the 22nd best national university two years ago, the 10th best last year, and the 15th best this year? Which is correct, that Columbia is #9 (two years ago), #15 (last year) or #11 (this year)? "




September 9th, 2014 at 11:38 AM ^

Michigan has actually gottens significantly more selective in the past few years as a result of the jump in application numbers from joining the common app.  UCLA is a pretty great school and tons of people want to go there.

Cali Wolverine

September 9th, 2014 at 12:16 PM ^

another 12 or so go to UCLA...only 2-3 kids would go to USC (for film school or to play sports). Now we have about 30 kids per year going to USC and only 2-4 going to Berkley and UCLA (usually to play sports like water polo, volleyball or soccer). Conversely, we went from 3-4 kids going to Michigan per year to now regularly sending 16 kids per year....which is very high for a SoCal private school.


September 9th, 2014 at 12:07 PM ^

Isn't Cal and Berkeley the same thing?

"The acceptance rates are artificially lowered due to the ease of applying."

I believe there is still a fee for every school you apply to, so I can't imagine too many people applying solely on the ease of applying.


September 9th, 2014 at 6:32 PM ^

Cal and Berkeley are the same thing. The official title of the university located in Berkeley, CA is simply the "University of California," and it is formally the flagship school for the UC system. When asked where they go, the students variously mostly answer "Berkeley," occasionally "Cal," or "UC Berkeley;" to my knowledge no one ever says they "go to California" the way students say they "Go to Michigan."

/Michigan and Berkeley alum


September 9th, 2014 at 11:37 AM ^

If you look at how the rankings have evolved, it's clear that most of the "slide" is due to changes in the system that favor smaller, private schools with low acceptance rate versus, you know, actual quality of education and resources available.  I'm not trying to crap on certian schools, but Tufts and Wake Forest aren't on the same level of UM overall.  They are just small schools with selective admissions.  

And for all the whining about public schools, they are all lumped together pretty closely.  


September 9th, 2014 at 11:07 AM ^

I quit paying attention to the US News rankings a while ago because of their weighting factors.  Many of these rankings use factors like selectivity, which (it's been alleged) some universities manipulate by encouraging applications from kids who stand little or no chance of getting in.  Times Higher Education rankings has us #20 in the world overall, and I've seen us as high as #13 worldwide in other surveys.   

gustave ferbert

September 9th, 2014 at 11:18 AM ^

why that is, but the one that makes the most sense is that they increased their acceptance rate especially for out of state students as the state ran into financial difficulty and cut funding to the universities.  There is no real evidence behind that claim, it's just what I heard.


September 9th, 2014 at 11:25 AM ^

Michigan has had high acceptance rates for some time.  Although I can't prove it, I believe Michigan is a safe school for many kids who ultimately attend the Ivies.

Does anyone have any data for the number of OOS students?  I thought I read not too long ago that about 45 percent of undergraduate attendees are from OOS.



September 9th, 2014 at 11:41 AM ^

If you asked anyone from the east coast during my orientation, the first thing out of their mouths was that they applied to Columbia or Dartmouth and were waitlisted/rejected.  Of course, they were worst applicants than me; I just wasn't dumb enough to apply to a school I didn't have a reasonable chance of getting into.


September 9th, 2014 at 12:06 PM ^

Dartmouth and perhaps a few other Ivies have been flooding high schools with invitations to apply--even for students who have zero chance of getting in.  By inducing unqualified students to apply, the school can lower its published acceptance rate i.e., by raising the denominator of applicants without raising the numerator of acceptees.  That lower acceptance rate will then help them rate more highly in the highly publicized school rankings.

Pretty disgusting, eh?


September 9th, 2014 at 3:04 PM ^

Wouldn't surprise me.  I know law schools have done that in the past both ways; they encourage people to apply to make them seem more selective and then hire any unemployed graduates to goose the USNWR numbers.  Personally, as a new dad, I'm not looking forward to 2030 when my daughter starts hearing about these crap rankings and starts worrying about them.

Leatherstocking Blue

September 10th, 2014 at 8:57 AM ^

A buddy of mine is a high school guidance counselor and he recently told me of a mother who came into the his office to berate him because he had not suggested she apply to the Ivy Leagues. She waved a letter from Harvard at him encouraging her daughter to apply with her impressive academic record. Thing is, she was a B+ student with nothing noteworthy in her non-academic bio. Harvard, and probably other schools, gives false hope to students and parents just to bump up their applications and make them look more selective in the rankings.


September 9th, 2014 at 11:37 AM ^

Hate to break this to you, but the 33% acceptance rate is lower than previous years--it has approached 50% in recent years.  Since UM started using the Common Application the number of applications has dramatically risen, this last year to almost 50,000. Over 16,000 acceptance letters were sent out, and about 6200 or so actually will enroll and show up.  There are many very qualified applicants who use Michigan as a "safe" school to the very top ranked schools (HYPSM).


September 9th, 2014 at 1:31 PM ^

...Michigan's acceptance rate balloon up to 33.3%? That's insanely high versus the acceptance rates 20 years ago.

Actually it's exactly the reverse. Twenty years our acceptance rate was around 60%. It's been plummeting in recent years, especially after we went to the Common Application.


September 9th, 2014 at 11:24 AM ^

What are the specific metrics that prevent M from being in the top 15 or so? My guess is acceptance rate and endowment/spending per student.  Has anyone here really dug into the USNWR formula?