Cornell University earned a spot in the top 10 of the Wall Street Journal’s 2018 college rankings, which were released Tuesday.
In collaboration with Times Higher Education, the Wall Street Journal ranked U.S. colleges and universities with the highest overall scores and leading academic resources. This year, six schools in the Ivy League and three in the Sunbelt came out on top.
Harvard University merited first, followed by Columbia University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University, with Princeton University and Cornell University concluding the top ten.
What determines the “finest” education the U.S. has to offer? In the words of the Wall Street Journal, the “rankings emphasize how well a college will prepare students for life after graduation.”
The schools are judged by their ability to mold students into alumni who are ready to take on the world which may be quantified by the leaders the schools produce, student-to-faculty ratio and post-graduate salaries, according to the WSJ.
The ranking is primarily weighted by the student outcomes and also incorporates the graduates’ salaries, academic resources, sense of engagement and diversity of the staff and student body.
The WSJ noted that private universities in the Northeast and along the West Coast are able to maintain their status year after year partly because they have the funds to put toward academic spending and research, but many public institutions — especially the California state system — are notably diverse and supply their students with valuable resources.
Educational output is the chief element in deciding a college’s ranking, but the WSJ/THE also considers that universities should instill a sense of engagement.
This sense of engagement is defined by the “level of collaboration with classmates, if [students] were pushed to think critically, and whether they would recommend their school to others,” the WSJ said in their report. This was determined through student surveys administered by the WSJ.
Their findings revealed that schools with religious affiliations achieved the greatest sense of engagement. In 2016, Cornell’s engagement rank was No. 39 and Stanford’s No. 31, but Harvard’s was only No. 632 and Columbia’s No. 143.
Cornell has experienced a slight dip in the ranks. Compared to its position as the eighth best U.S. college in 2017 and ninth in 2016, other universities such as the California Institute of Technology have surpassed it.
However, compared to US News and Forbes, where Cornell ranks 14th and 15th respectively, the WSJ ranking delivers a welcomed top 10 status.
The factors the WSJ/THE take into account suggest the top colleges, including Cornell, will equip students with the knowledge and skills to find a job, open a company or engage in public service upon graduating.
However, the rankings must annually adapt to the job market and schools themselves.
The Wall Street Journal qualifies that “rankings aren’t intended to be a definitive guide for all prospective students. … Rather, this list is best used as a jumping-off point for families as they consider their options.”