The website College Factual may have named Yale the best college in the United States last week, but in other major ranking systems, Yale continues to occupy third place.

U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 Best Colleges rankings, released on Sept. 13, kept Princeton in first and Harvard in second, as has been the case for the last several years. The disparity between the rankings is perhaps due to different metrics: While U.S. News focuses on seven percentage-weighted quantitative and qualitative indicators, College Factual uses 11 indicators scaled according to high, medium and low importance.

The College Factual indicators include average test scores, average faculty compensation, expenditure per student, student-faculty ratio, percentage full-time teachers and freshman retention rate. Where College Factual differs from U.S. News, however, is in metrics regarding early- and mid-career salaries and student loan default rates.

Of Yale College’s class of 2016, 42.1 percent started their careers making $70,000 or more.

“Yale students are a highly coveted group … many times, they are in a situation to negotiate their salary,” said Jeanine Dames, associate dean of Yale College and director of the Office of Career Strategy. “Also, geography plays quite a factor here. About 75 percent of the class start their careers in New York, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. Those are areas that tend to be high on salary.”

Approximately 10.9 percent of 2016 graduates reported having negotiated their starting salary when they began work. According to officials at the Yale Office of Career Strategy, Yale students have developed hard and soft skills as a result of the depth and breadth of their education, leading to strong abilities of salary negotiation.

“Mid-career earnings are high for Yale College graduates since many students opt to go to graduate school and then return to their careers, leading to an earnings boost as a result of increased qualifications,” Dames said.

Yale’s high rating also results from the low loan-default rates of Yale undergraduates. Compared to the national average three-year default rate of 7.4 percent in 2016, only 0.6 percent of Yale undergraduates who entered loan repayment defaulted.

U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges rankings base their evaluation on graduation and retention rates, undergraduate academic reputation, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, graduation rate performance and alumni giving rate. College Factual did not include academic reputation, donations or student selectivity.

In that regard, students acknowledged, Harvard and Princeton might claim a slight edge.

“Harvard has a lot of professors that have a lot of Nobel laureates and they have the name of being the longest-standing university in the world,” said Sam Maniscalco ’21. “I think Yale is more well-rounded, but Harvard and Princeton are more focused on academics and prestige.”

Alicia Kacharia ’21 said that Yale’s peer schools place a heavy emphasis on STEM fields, whereas Yale places equal focus on the humanities and the arts, which may also affect its status in the rankings. Bohan Lou ’20 said that some of the categories these ranking groups use are biased against Yale, since they place importance on yield and STEM research.

“I think it has to do with research funding and trying to attract professors to do novel research on campus,” Anthony Fraga ’19 said.

Yale came in 10th place in the U.S. News ranking for undergraduate teaching.”

Contact Jever Mariwala at jever.mariwala@yale.edu .