The rankings, released Monday, buck the trend of the University sliding down the list in recent years.
U.S. News and World Report publishes news, opinion, consumer advice and rankings. It serves as an essential source of college information, particularly to prospective applicants. This year marks its 37th report of best colleges and universities, and this year’s list ranked 1,466 U.S. bachelor’s degree-granting institutions.
According to U.S News, it ranks institutions by 17 measures at different weights. Forty percent of a school’s rank comes from post-graduation outcomes, with graduation and retention rates weighted at 22 percent, social mobility at 5 percent, graduation rate performance at 8 percent and graduate indebtedness at 5 percent.
The report gave Cornell an overall score of 87 out of 100. It identified Cornell’s student-faculty ratio at 9:1 and noted that 62.5 percent of classes have fewer than 25 students. It also ranked Cornell 22nd place for best undergraduate teaching and best value schools. Cornell’s social mobility ranking was relatively low at 242.
Other ranking factors include average alumni giving rate, financial resources per student and undergraduate academic reputation — determined by an assessment from top academics, deans and provosts. Only seven percent of the ranking comes from student selectivity for the entering class of 2020, which consists of SAT and ACT scores and high school class standing.
The bump in rankings comes as the 2021-2022 admissions cycle approaches. Like many other selective universities, Cornell experienced an unprecedented rise in applications in 2021 and only admitted 5,836 out of 67,380 students, yielding a historically low acceptance rate of 8.6 percent.
This year’s list is largely similar to last year’s, with none of the top 50 schools moving more than three places up or down. Princeton University took the top spot for the 11th year in a row. This year saw Columbia University overtake Harvard University for second place, and Duke University reentered the top ten.
While the U.S. News list has proved highly influential for colleges and applicants alike, it has faced criticism for creating incentives for universities to favor wealthy students and for promoting unhealthy competition.
Other publications have adjusted their criteria to focus more on social mobility. This year, Forbes revamped its annual college rankings by placing a higher emphasis on student outcomes. Their 2021 list determined rankings by alumni salary, academic success and number of appearances on the Forbes American Leaders List, among other factors. In Forbes’s rankings, the University of California, Berkeley topped the list while Cornell placed 13th.
Correction: Sept. 17, 1:52 p.m.: This article has been corrected to include that this is not Duke University’s first entry into the top ten of the U.S News rankings. It reentered the top ten after falling out in the 2021 rankings.