If you're a parent helping your child pick a university, getting rankings is an important part of the process.
When it comes to evaluating the best colleges in the United States, The Wall Street Journal has been a trusted source since they started publishing rankings in 2016. This year, in collaboration with College Pulse and Statistica, they've made significant enhancements to their methodology, which we'll delve into shortly.
The 2024 edition saw both expected and surprising shifts in the rankings. While some esteemed institutions maintained their positions, there were also substantial changes compared to the previous ranking due to the modified methodology. A notable example is Johns Hopkins University, which went from being ranked 9th to 99th. This emphasizes the importance of considering multiple factors beyond rankings alone.
Notably, Stevens Institute of Technology secured an impressive 36th place in this year's rankings. To provide a broader perspective, let's take a look at how Stevens compares to four other universities that Stevens often benchmarks against:
– Lehigh University: 14th
– Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: 34th
– Worcester Polytechnic Institute: 61st
– Carnegie Mellon University: 70th
This achievement is particularly significant here at the Crowley Law Office, as Philip Crowley, our Managing Partner, is an esteemed alumnus of Stevens. Not only has he contributed to the institution as a former President of the Stevens Alumni Association, but he currently serves as a Trustee, further underlining our deep-rooted connection with Stevens.
Methodological Shifts: A Closer Look
One of the most pivotal changes in the methodology, likely influenced by extensive feedback, is the shift away from giving undue weight to a college's financial resources or reputation. This led to the exclusion of two significant factors: the survey of academics on schools' reputations and instructional spending, which previously assumed that higher costs equated to higher quality education. Instead, the new methodology places a stronger emphasis on student outcomes, encompassing graduation rates and graduate salaries. More critically, it focuses on measuring the value that colleges add to their students' success, rather than merely gauging the end result.
The WSJ ranking evaluates colleges based on three core factors:
- Student Outcomes (70% of the rankings): This metric takes center stage, reflecting the university's effectiveness in ensuring students graduate and go on to successful careers.
- Learning Environment (20%): This factor considers the overall educational experience, encompassing factors like faculty-student ratio, class sizes, and available resources.
- Diversity (10%): Recognizing the importance of a varied and inclusive community, this aspect highlights the diversity within the student body.
These comprehensive metrics offer a multifaceted view of a university's strengths and contributions to its students' growth and success. It also highlights what Stevens must be doing so well to deserve its climb in the revamped rankings.
Interested readers may want to know more about their own school, or for help choosing a school for themselves or a family member. The New York Times has a “Build Your Own College Rankings” calculator available on its website, which lets you decide how much weight to put into various factors. So, you and your child can increase weight for factors important to you (e.g. academic achievement) or your child (e.g. party school??), and decrease the weighting of factors that aren't important to you.
As we continue to uphold our ties with Stevens through Phil Crowley's involvement, we take pride in celebrating its performance on The Wall Street Journal's rankings. For more information about Philip Crowley and his distinguished association with Stevens Institute of Technology, please read this “Donor Story” on the Stevens website.