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US News top schools: 1983 versus 2006

collegehelpcollegehelp Registered User Posts: 6,523 Senior Member
edited August 2006 in College Search & Selection
I think the first time US News published college rankings was in 1983. At that time, they only ranked the top dozen or so in each Carnegie classification, excluding professional and specialty schools, and they followed a very different method: a survey of all US 4-year college presidents at colleges that offer a liberal arts curriculum.

I found the article on microfilm in the library. November 28, 1983.

Some schools changed in rank by a lot. How much of the change is due to a real change in status and how much is due to different ranking method or ranking error?

college, rank in 1983, rank in 2006, change

national universities
Stanford 1 5 -4
Harvard 2 1 +1
Yale 3 3 0
Princeton 4 1 +3
UC Berkeley 5 20 -15
U Chicago 6 15 -9
U Michigan 7 25 -18
Cornell 8 13 -5
U Illinois 8 42 -34
Dartmouth 10 9 +1
MIT 10 7 +3
Caltech 12 7 +5
Carnegie-Mellon 13 22 -9
U Wisconsin Mad. 13 34 -21
honorable mention:
Brown 15 15 0
Columbia 15 9 +6
Indiana U 15 74 -15
UNC Chapel Hill 15 27 -12
Rice 15 17 -2

national liberal arts colleges
Amherst 1 2 -1
Swarthmore 2 3 -1
Williams 2 1 +1
Carleton 4 5 -1
Oberlin 5 23 -18
Wellesley 6 4 +2
Wesleyan 7 12 -5
Bryn Mawr 8 21 -13
Davidson 9 10 -1
Haverford 9 8 +1
Pomona 9 6 +3
Reed 9 47 -38
honorable mention:
Grinnell 13 15 -2
Smith 13 19 -6
St. Johns (MD) 13 69 -56
Post edited by collegehelp on

Replies to: US News top schools: 1983 versus 2006

  • ckmets13ckmets13 Registered User Posts: 2,294 Senior Member
    wow. what was the first year that US News listed the top 50 or so schools, and what were the rankings then?
  • gellinogellino Registered User Posts: 3,017 Senior Member
    It makes you wonder what kind of methodology they were using compared to now (it seems much more thought out and scrutinized now) and how much the schools actually changed. No JHU, Penn, Georgetown, Northwestern, WUSTL among the top 20 NUs and no Bowdoin, Middlebury, Colgate, W&L among the top 15 LACs. Both of these lists of schools seem to have been staples of at least the last ten years of rankings.

    I'm guessing acceptance rate wasn't weighted too highly. Either that or the accptance rate for something like Penn, Georgetown wasn't so much lower than UI or UMich like it is today and the other schools more than made up for it by whatever else was in the criteria.
  • pirt8528pirt8528 . Posts: 358 Member
    haha yea im not sure what kind of ranking methodology was used; indiana above penn, duke, gtown, etc; st. johns/ smith over bowdoin, colgate, W&L. yikes. everyone complains about the ranking now; it seems alot more accurate now than it was then!
  • gellinogellino Registered User Posts: 3,017 Senior Member
    Yeah. I didn't even notice Duke was missing. It seems a perennial 5-10 rank as long as I can remember. I can't believe it wasn't even in the top 20 and UNC was. However, those rankings come out heavily slanted towards public schools, although ironically today's possible highest, UVA, wasn't on the list either.
  • dnduswodnduswo Registered User Posts: 1,612 Senior Member
    wow...what a surprise............just...wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • bluebayoubluebayou Registered User Posts: 24,469 Senior Member
    they changed the methodology to include endowments, and guess what, the blue blood colleges with 300 years of history moved up, and those darn publics were put into their place.
  • TransferTransfer Registered User Posts: 740 Member
    I'm not sure if the rankings or the responses to them from this thread amaze me more
  • gellinogellino Registered User Posts: 3,017 Senior Member
    What's amazing about the responses?
  • UntiltedUntilted Registered User Posts: 1,980 Senior Member
    indiana u in top 20...........damn
  • huskem55huskem55 User Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 4,284 Senior Member
    WOW. very interesting. funny how as the idea of the usnews rankings became popular and in some cases, dominating opinions, some schools shot up or down the rankings.
  • gellinogellino Registered User Posts: 3,017 Senior Member
    I wonder if these rankings matched common perceptions at the time or if this was just a product of inaccurate criteria for the rankings and Duke and JHU were actually considered better than UI or IU. I know growing up that I never considered Penn, Northwestern, Georgetown, WUSTL to be that great of schools and now it seems everyone is tripping over themselves trying to get into these schools with each one having < 25% acceptance rate.
  • CardinalFocusedCardinalFocused Registered User Posts: 2,096 Senior Member
    Wow, are you telling me the OG acronym was once HYPSB!? hah crazy.
  • gellinogellino Registered User Posts: 3,017 Senior Member
    I think the advent of rankings really brought MIT and CalTech into being more generally acknowledged, instead of thought of as having only a narrow bent. Acceptance rates for these two have really dropped in comparison to HYPS in the last 15 years. MIT even has undergrad business now, which is unbelievable to me.
  • flutterbyhighflutterbyhigh Registered User Posts: 253 Junior Member
    Wow, I would have never guessed that UIllinois would ever be that high! I wonder what the rankings will be like in 2029? Maybe USNews will change something so that publics have a comeback. I wonder what the stts are for WUSTL, I would think they made a jump.
  • 2331clk2331clk Registered User Posts: 1,656 Senior Member
    collegehelp thanks for posting this.

    I finished grad school around that time and those are the kind of reputations I remember from hs days researching colleges, though Indiana and Illinois surprised me.

    At my nj hs back then we had smart but not THAT smart kids go to Penn and Duke. They weren't necessarily top of the class. Our truly brilliant valedictorian turned down Princeton (which even then was extremely selective for non-prep school kids) for a full ride to WashU in STL...no one had ever heard of Wash U and we all thought he was crazy.

    City schools weren't popular back then. NYC, Phila, Baltimore, DC were dumpy and, in our minds, unsafe...many of us couldn't imagine going to school there. Bucolic country places were more popular: Cornell, Lehigh, Lafayette, Dartmouth, Colgate, Bryn Mawr, Oberlin, Princeton were desirable, whereas Columbia, Penn, JHU, NYU were not for undergrad (but they were desirable grad/professional school destinations), at least that's how I recall things back then at my school.

    Also the ivy league as it's own exclusive entity wasn't as strong then. The ivies were considered each individually on their own strengths (for instance you wouldn't apply to Penn and Dartmouth too, it wouldn't make sense), although HYP were in their own category.
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