In the eyes of many Yalies, Harvard sucks, and Princeton doesn’t matter. But in the latest U.S. News and World Report college rankings, Yale’s primary rivals sat atop the list, bumping Yale to third.
Last year, Yale shared second place with Harvard, as Princeton was first. This year, Yale slipped to third, while Massachusetts Institute of Technology, California Institute of Technology, University of Pennsylvania, Duke University and Stanford University rounded out the top eight spots. Meanwhile, the Princeton Review ranked Yale first for academics, saying it offered the “Best Overall Academic Experience for Undergraduates.” While both reports incorporate a variety of criteria in evaluating each school, the Princeton Review places a greater emphasis on student surveys and opinions.
Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead said he was pleased with the rankings but does not place a great deal of importance on them.
“There’s a pretense to exactness that would be a little hard to justify,” Brodhead said of the U.S. News rankings. “This is a great school.”
Dean of Admissions Richard Shaw said the university was “in good company,” but that the concept of ranking schools is flawed.
“I think rankings schemes in a lot of ways miss the point,” Shaw said. “It’s just not fathomable how one ranks one place against the other. People like schools for different reasons.”
Shaw said rankings may be misleading to some candidates because they may keep prospective students from considering certain institutions.
Many Yale students said the rankings do not affect the way they see the university in relation to other schools, particularly in relation to Harvard and Princeton.
“When it comes down to the top three, the rankings don’t make a difference,” Brett Hernandez ’06 said. “I just think it’s something that people are going to talk about in superficial conversation.”
Nana Akowuah ’06 said she is only minimally disappointed that Yale’s position in the U.S. News and World Report rankings changed this year because the rankings are mainly about “bragging rights.”
Jon McClain ’06 said they could be misleading for prospective students.
“I think they’re somewhat of a negative influence because they force students to consider the rankings and reputation more than the fit,” McClain said. “And the fit’s really the most important thing.”