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September 13, 2017

Cornell Rises to 14th Best University in U.S. News Rankings

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Cornell University moved up a place to 14th out of 223 ranked schools in the U.S. News 2018 National University Rankings, tying with Brown University for last place among the Ivy Leagues.

Princeton University was the top-ranked school for the seventh year in a row.

The 2017-18 rankings were published Tuesday to the U.S. News website, a national publisher dedicated to compiling data and publishing rankings to the public on various institutions and industries.

Individual programs within the University received rankings as well, with Cornell ranking seventh in the nation for business and 10th for engineering. The University also holds second place in the nation in plant and animal sciences.

The rankings are created through statistical analysis, with each school given a numerical rating out of 100, according to the U.S. News Rankings website. The schools are then ranked by rating, with ties for those that receive the same rating. Cornell’s rating of 86 tied it with Brown University, Vanderbilt University and Rice University.

According to the website, 77.5 percent of the criteria for the rankings comes from objective statistics. Of this, graduation rate is valued highest. Other categories include class size, student-to-faculty ratio, admissions selectivity and financial resources allocated per student.

This number even includes perceived alumni satisfaction, calculated from the percentage of graduates who have donated to the University within the last five years, according to U.S. News.

The remaining 22.5 percent of the criteria results from undergraduate academic reputation, gathered through peer assessment.

U.S. News sends out assessment requests to officials at similarly ranked institutions, including presidents, provosts and academic deans, according to U.S. News. These officials are asked to evaluate the relative quality of their peer universities. Requests are also sent to counselors at 2,200 high-achieving high schools nationwide.

The U.S. News rankings include numbers outside of academics as well — Cornell placed third nationally for “Best Colleges for Veterans.”

Public University Honors, a website that archives U.S. News rankings, documents this as the first time that Cornell has ranked 14th or higher since 2009.

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  • newyork1974

    As a Columbia student remarked recently, these lists are like being told what’s the best flavor of ice cream. Or for that matter, being told what’s the best city in the world in which to live. (There is such a list: Canadian cities take it very seriously, since they are usually near the top, and newspapers there are distressed if they find that their city has slipped a notch or two in this year’s rankings, and gratified if they’ve risen. Never mind whether you like snow.)

    But the USN&WR lists are also remarkably ignorant. Their list compilers know next to nothing about many university programs (Southeast Asia, Latin America and other area study programs, for example). And comparing university departments where faculty hold wildly different political and economic views, such as the economics departments of MIT and Chicago, is deeply misleading to high school seniors and subject to extreme political bias, something for which USN&WR has always been notorious.

    USN&WR can also produce sharply different results by changing the weight given to a statistic — the evaluations of high school guidance counselors, for example — to 15% of the total, say, from 10% or 20% in earlier years. It has done this.

    If they were comparing athletic teams, the work would be fairly easy. (I suspect some of the people who work on these lists are retreads from the sports pages.) Yes, the star forward can sprain an ankle halfway through the season, but at least they’d be measuring the same things. But adding up the apples and oranges of different university departments, and deciding how much weight to give to each, is ludicrous, and embarrassing.

  • Happy Jack

    Cornell (tuition $53k) tied at 14th place with Rice Univ, Houston ($46k) and Vanderbilt, Nashville ($48k). Think twice, Cornell snob, before you put the South down again.

    Cornell is the lowest ranked Ivy League school.

    Nice going!

    • Gerard Freisinger

      “Cornell is the lowest ranked Ivy League School”/ Not if you want to become a human or animal doctor… Princeton offers neither. Not if you want to become a farmer, ag specialist or Industrial and labor relations expert. Not if you want to become a hospitality specialist and run a hotel.
      There is another ranking – how much grads earn 5-10 years out of college. Ivies are not so high.
      I know rankings in USN and WR that ranking doctors and hospitals. Experience in these institutions and with these physicians belie the reputation. Best to avoid rankings.