Stanford tops new WSJ Times Higher Education US college ranking for 2017

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

The nation’s most selective college Stanford University is on top of the inaugural Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education college rankings. WSJ and THE released the first joint ranking of American colleges on Sept. 28, 2016, where the top ten included some of the country’s most elite universities including seven belonging to the Ivy League. Stanford is the top of not only WSJ/THE ranking but also Forbes 2016 American Top College rankings and was MONEY’s top school in 2015.

This new ranking focuses heavily on the outcomes of getting a degree from one the institutions. As Time magazine noted what sets the WSJ’s new ranking apart is the “10,000-student survey that asks students about career preparation and whether they think the school was worth the cost.”

The ranking’s methodology looks at some factors including “salaries of graduates and debt repayment rates, school reputation, research impact, and how much a college spends to educate each student.” According to the WSJ, colleges are specifically marked on the following categories “alumni earnings, debt burdens, student engagement, resources, diversity of students and faculty, and academic reputation.” The WSJ also ranked universities on specific factors, “Resources (#1: Harvard University), Student Outcomes (#1: Yale University), Engagement (#1: Dordt College), Environment (#1: La Sierra University).”

Dave Pettit, Editor of Specialized News Products, The Wall Street Journal discussed what makes the ranking unique. Pettit explained, “We designed the rankings to evaluate colleges the same way parents and prospective students do. We place an emphasis on financial considerations, including the resources colleges put into instruction and colleges’ success in positioning their graduates to earn a good salary. We also look at schools’ success in teaching and engaging students, and the diversity of the colleges’ communities. Our goal is to provide insights parents and students can use in making this critical life decision.”

The majority of the schools in the top 30 are private, as well as the entire top 10. The only public schools are the University of Michigan, University of California-Los Angeles, and University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill ranking 24, 26, and 30. Over 1,000 colleges were included in the ranking.

WSJ/THE US College Rankings top 10:

1. Stanford University
2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
3. Columbia University
4. University of Pennsylvania
5. Yale University
6. Harvard University
7. Duke University
8. Princeton University
9. Cornell University
10. California Institute of Technology

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

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