U.S. News’ methodology focuses on academic excellence. The rankings emphasize student outcomes, such as graduation and freshman retention rates, which carry the most weight at 30%. The top National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges have much higher graduation and freshman retention rates than other schools.
Here are some of their findings:
• The average 6-year graduation rate is 96% among the top 10 National Universities (71.7% among all nationally ranked schools on that National University list) and 92.5% among the top 10 National Liberal Arts Colleges (75.7% among all numerically ranked schools on the National Liberal Arts College list).
• The average freshman retention rate is 98.3% among top 10 National Universities (87.2% among all nationally ranked schools on the National University list) and 96.5% for the top 10 National Liberal Arts Colleges (85.7% among all numerically ranked schools on the National Liberal Arts College list).
Graduation and retention rates are important indicators of how well a school supports its students academically and financially. Brian Kelly, editor and chief content officer of U.S. News, encourages families to research these statistics before taking out student loans or paying tuition bills.
The following are new to the rankings this year:
• Postgrad salary information on 1000 schools.
• A slight methodology change for National Universities to better predict graduation rates. To determine whether students at a given school are graduating at expected levels, U.S. News included the proportion of degrees awarded in the science, tech, engineering, and math fields. This was done to reflect research showing that STEM students generally graduate at lower rates.
• An alteration to the methodology for Best Colleges for Veterans rankings. A school must have enrolled at least 20 veterans and active service members in the 2016-17 academic year to qualify for the rankings.
Top 5 National Universities
Top 5 National Liberal Arts Colleges
Top 5 National Public Universities
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