Washington Monthly - September/October 2016 - 20

TOP 30 NATIONAL UNIVERSITIES RANK IN U.S. NEWS (2016) 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. STANFORD UNIVERSITY (CA) 4 Harvard University (MA) 2 MA Institute of Technology (MA) 7 University of California-San Diego (CA)* 39 University of Pennsylvania (PA) 9 Texas A&M University-College Station (TX)* 70 University of California-Berkeley (CA)* 20 University of California-Los Angeles (CA)* 23 Georgetown University (DC) 21 University of California-Davis (CA)* 41 Duke University (NC) 8 University of California-Riverside (CA)* 121 Yale University (CT) 3 University of Washington-Seattle (WA)* 52 Princeton University (NJ) 1 Georgia Institute of Technology-Main (GA)* 36 University of CA-Santa Barbara (CA)* 37 University of Florida (FL)* 47 Brigham Young University-Provo (UT) 66 University of NC-Chapel Hill (NC)* 30 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (MI)* 29 Vanderbilt University (TN) 15 Columbia Univ. in the City of NY (NY) 4 University of Notre Dame (IN) 18 CA State University-Fresno (CA)* 52 Utah State University (UT)* Rank not published Cornell University (NY) 15 University of Wisconsin-Madison (WI)* 41 Dartmouth College (NH) 12 VA Polytechnic Inst. & State Univ. (VA)* 70 *Public institution The 2016 U.S. News rankings were released in September 2015. nia, Berkeley, cracked U.S. News's top twenty. On our rankings, public universities, which combine economic diversity with service and a commitment to knowledge production and research, have always done much better. That remains the case, with the majority of our top twenty national universities coming from the public sector, including the University of California, San Diego, Texas A&M, and Brigham Young University, schools that rate nowhere near the top at U.S. News. Adding new data elements to our rankings did, however, elevate a group of elite private universities, including Stanford, 20 September/October 2016 Harvard, and MIT, which now comprise our top three. This shows that with enough money, it's possible to be famous and exclusive and contribute to social mobility and research. (Those three universities possess $73 billion in combined endowment assets, representing more than 10 percent of the total for every university in America.) But this model provides few lessons for improving collegiate opportunity writ large. It is, by definition, limited to a tiny fraction of students, the victors in an increasingly winner-takes-all society. Indeed, even many elite schools with considerable means still fail to measure up on our rankings. Columbia, Northwestern, and Washington University in St. Louis, which rank number four, twelve, and fifteen, respectively, on the U.S. News list, come in at number twenty-four, forty, and ninety-nine in our rankings. A more instructive example is California State, Fresno, ranked twenty-fifth on our list. Half of all undergrads there are first-generation students, and the majority have income low enough to qualify for a federal Pell Grant. Cal State- Fresno has a higher graduation rate than is typical, given those demographics, and a highly affordable net price for lower- and moderate-income students (calculated as tuition and fees minus grants and scholarships) of only $5,367 per year. Its students earn $3,600 more per year ten years after starting school than our statistical models predict, and also outperform peer institutions when it comes to students paying down the principal on their loans. And Cal State-Fresno spends 59 percent of its federal work-study funds on public service-the single-highest percentage of any national university in the country. Texas Woman's University, located outside Dallas-Fort Worth, doesn't produce much research, because it isn't a research institution. And its service numbers could be better. But it excels at the task that students and parents care most about: helping graduates get a foothold in the middle class. Based on demographics and student majors, students from TWU (originally founded by the state legislature as the Girls Industrial College) should earn less than $34,000 per year at the ten-year mark. They actually earn $45,000 per year. TWU is highly focused on training students in fields like kinesiology, business administration, child development, and, most prominently, nursing. Colleges like TWU are the backbone of America's modern system of career development, helping an economically and racially diverse student population get good jobs for an affordable price. Mercer University in Georgia, ranked thirty-seventh on our list, is a long-established private institution with a solid graduation rate and academic profile of incoming freshmen. But given those numbers, Mercer enrolls many more lowincome and first-generation students than is typical, earnings are robust, and students are paying their loans back at an unusually high rate. Mercer also sends substantial numbers of graduates into ROTC and the Peace Corps, and reports a high level of community and staff participation in public service. Universities like Cal State-Fresno, Texas Woman's, and Mercer never show up on conventional "best college" rankings.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Monthly - September/October 2016

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