Yale may not be America’s highest ranked university, but it’s one of the hottest.

The University ranked third in the U.S. News and World Report’s 2005 national college rankings for the second year in a row behind Harvard and Princeton universities, which tied for first place. The rankings were released August 18.

But Newsweek’s annual Kaplan College Guide dubbed Yale America’s “hottest ivy,” noting its growing popularity among college applicants in an August 17 article.

The U.S. News rankings are based in large part on 15 different factors, U.S. News Media Relations Director Richard Folkers said. Three-fourths of them are measured statistically and include categories such as retention, student selectivity, graduation rate and rate of alumni giving. The other quarter of the rankings are subjective, based on the “pure assessment” of university administrators and faculty regarding their school’s quality of education compared to other schools, Folkers said.

Although Yale is pleased to be among America’s top schools, the administration pays little attention to annual rankings, University spokesman Tom Conroy said.

The administration is more concerned about the teachers and students it attracts each year, as well as the level of alumni giving, than a ranking, Conroy said. Based on these indicators, Yale is doing “better than ever,” he added.

In making its “hottest Ivy” designation, Newsweek included Yale in its list of “America’s 25 Hot Schools.” The list was purely subjective, based on interviews with a wide range of students and admissions officers at colleges throughout the country, according to the article. Although the list is diverse, ranging from Dartmouth University to Hollins University — America’s hottest riding school — all are noted for growing applicant pools, test scores, grades and extracurricular activities.

The article cited Yale President Richard Levin’s efforts to change its early decision admission policy to non-binding early action in 2003 as a cause of its surge in applications last year — 19,682 applied, a 42 percent increase over the previous year.

Levin agreed that the change in admissions policies was one of the factors behind Yale’s growing popularity.

“Making the change did give us a significant boost,” he said. “We appear to be more customer-friendly.”

Yale College Council President Andrew Cedar ’06 also attributed last year’s spike in applications to the school’s new admissions policy, but added that Yale’s unique culture contributed to its “hotness” in the eyes of prospective Elis.

“Yale is a hot school because it has special learning opportunities in a community where people genuinely care about each other,” he said. “It’s a fun place to be.”

Cedar said he remains unconcerned about Yale’s ranking in U.S. News.

“It doesn’t affect me at all,” he said. “A strict mathematical ranking can’t describe what it’s like to be here.”