2022 USNews Rankings posted

Back in 2014-15, Duke averaged 7.5 and Wash U was 14.

Duke recently went from 8 to 12 and now back to 9.
Wash U had risen to 18-19 for a few years and now back down to 14 after being 16 last year.

It would be interesting to decipher what contributed to Wash U’s five point drop but you’d also wonder what contributed to its five point increase. I guess it had to do with a super-charged focus on need based aid.

Since 2014, the three schools with the highest annual standard deviation have been Alabama, Howard and Tulsa. In 2014-15, Tulsa and Alabama were tied with an average rating of 87. They’re now roughly in the 140s. Howard seemed to greatly benefit from a change in ranking criteria focused on outcomes relative to socio-economic status and is now in the 80s after being in the 140s in mid-2010s.

Alabama the word is out on their merit aid for OOS students. This year OOS tuition is 30K and auto merit for high achievers is between 24k and 28k
Presidential 32-36 ACT or 1420-1600 SAT 3.50+ $28,000
UA Scholar 30-31 ACT or 1360-1410 SAT 3.50+ $24,000

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New England has lot of great liberal arts colleges like Williams, Amherst, Bowdoin, all of the NESCAC schools offer an amazing education and offer substantial financial aid.


Another thing to consider, way more important than national rankings in my opinion, is program excellence (not necessarily ranking, just excellence in what your kid wants to do). As an example, D is a performing artist who wants a BFA in musical theater. There are several “top” schools in her field that I had never even heard of, and she attends one of them. These schools have excellent training, scads of working actors, etc. She’s way better off there then some highly ranked USNWR school. Really program specific.

We live in FL. UF has done a nice job rising in the rankings. It’s nowhere near the top for performing arts in FL. Almost nonexistent actually. The other thing about it is their is a huge resource shortage and/or they accept many kids to transition type programs (start online and move to campus after X credits - they just don’t have the space.) Some of these programs have restrictions on what you can choose for a major. I think it’s sad that a kid would choose that option (being quite limited), when they could have attended a regular college with the ability to change majors as they saw fit (say at FSU or UCF for example). But they want to be a GATOR so bad they’re willing to play by the rules of this alternative program. Yeah they get to say they earned a degree from a top 5 public, but it’s not the degree they wanted to earn (in some cases).


So this is the thing - Duke has always been considered elite. WUSTL strong by those who know it - they suffer from a lack of recognition.

Bama brings in buck bucks, tons of smart out of state kids.

My point - these schools are no different over 7 years nor are the perceptions.

Someone puts out a ranking and everyone acts like they are different.

They’re not.

And tons of kids choose them - really smart kids who can go, maybe anywhere, for whatever reason.

If Harvard fell to 7, it’s not like people would change their consideration set.

That’s why it’s goofy.

I prefer Forbes - I know the results seem less realistic but I like when they have one list, not regional colleges, regional universities, etc.

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Can you offer the statistics? I’m too tired to look it up

You also might consider the Apker Award, for undergraduate research in physics. MIT has produced three recipients since 1994.

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You might be interested in this Life article from 1960: LIFE - Google Books. Note that — based on standardized scoring, at least — Duke has risen a few levels across the decades.


Any time opinion surveys are used you stray way into the subjective mind. Among the major ranking services / lists, I find USNWR to be the most subjective. I prefer things like Poets and Quants where they use actual data for a healthy part of their rankings (outcomes, test scores, admission rates, etc) Certainly this can also be subjective as you need to understand what is being compared. Difficult for a large university to compete with a small concentrated university / college in starting salaries as an example as ALL of the large school salaries weigh in the mix vs. a a school where half the kids are going in to high paying industries. I still find that useful as the kid at the smaller school is likely looking to do that and therefore can have some level of insight to compare expectations with reality.

The popularity of such awards varies greatly from school to school. Certain awards just aren’t popular on some campuses. Students can still participate on their own if they’re personally interested, but many don’t. If you’re a physics student at MIT, your primarily objective is probably graduate school. So you’d rather spend time on research (and potentially publish papers) with professors who will write LoRs when you apply. Math is similar except that Putnam is in a different category and it involves bragging rights with their crosstown rival. Putnam winners are often medalists in HS in IMO, etc. It’s probably part of the reason MIT recruits these medalists in the first place.


Definitely not true depending on your definition of elite. It was a safety for kids that got into Yale back in the day. It may have always been a good school but not elite for sure.

"Another thing to consider, way more important than national rankings in my opinion, is program excellence (not necessarily ranking, just excellence in what your kid wants to do). "

Sure but most families do not have the time and/or resources to research programs across the country. And if you have a more traditional program like say Econ, many families use the USN as starting point. If you start with the top-20 RU and top-10 LACs and decide that Princeton and Williams are your reaches for Econ, I’m not sure that’s unreasonable.

Interesting development at Duke. Rolling out a Residential College system - Greek system is in the process of being phased out after next year, apparently:


Rice and Yale have residential colleges. Do quite a few others have them as well?

Duke MBA was still emerging in the late '90s. They threw $$ at applicants and grew their ranking to the excellent spot they’re in today. I’m not sure if that was a similar strategy 20-30 years ago in the undergrad ranks but it’s worked for some, like Chicago, that used to offer merit.

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As the nation’s highest honor for undergraduate physics research, the Apker would seem to represent perhaps the most appealing element that an applicant could offer to a physics graduate program.

These sources could serve reasonably well for evaluating undergraduate economics programs:



Overall, these rankings tend to correspond to the U.S. News rankings of these schools. However, some slightly less recognized schools place highly as well.

Good riddance to bad rubbish. Duke administrators have been discussing this for over a decade, so it’s about time.

Well, infamous on this forum, I should say. Battles on CC between proponents of public universities (particularly Berkeley and Michigan) and proponents of private colleges like the Ivies used to be both common and very tedious, and citing anything that favored one set over another like the Revealed Preferences ranking or WSJ placement ranking was pouring oil on the fire.

People tend to cite rankings that rank their favored school(s) highly and ignore those that don’t.


A student who has won the award would obviously mention it in her/his graduate school application. An MIT physics undergrad who wants to pursue PhD would much likely spend her/his time and energy on research with professors at MIT, given the greater availability of such opportunities at MIT than most other schools. The most important elements for acceptance into a top PhD program are a) published research; and b) recommendations by well-respected professors in the field.


Agreed. And for peet’s sake, why are people citing a Life Magazine article from 1960???

You have described the activities that would lead to an Apker, for which the home undergraduate institution provides resources and mentorship. As an indication of this, the home school’s physics department is recognized by the American Physical Society with a portion of the prize.

For this reason, it should not be surprising that MIT has outperformed most other schools in the number of its Apker Award recipients.

Here you can see the graduate schools attended by some of the previous winners:

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The award considers factors other than the student’s original research (which technically isn’t even a requirement), so a student who is focused on getting into a top PhD program can’t count on the award even if s/he is the most accomplished in original research. Top PhD programs in STEM are all about merit, so the focus isn’t necessarily the same.