Hopkins rose to the No. 12 spot in rankings of national universities released on Monday evening by U.S. News and World Report. The University was ranked 13th among national universities last year. Hopkins is tied with Northwestern in the new 2014 Best Colleges list right behind tenth-ranked Dartmouth.
The University has not ranked as highly since 2000, when it held a spot in the top ten briefly due to an adjustment in the rankings methodology, which was swiftly reversed.
“The energy of our students and the dedication of our faculty to those students are combining to build momentum at Johns Hopkins,” President Ronald J. Daniels said in a statement. “When both teachers and students are absolutely driven by the desire to learn and the desire to discover, something very powerful happens.”
President Daniels, in his “Ten by Twenty” roadmap for Hopkins, wrote last spring that one of his goal is to, “[b]uild Johns Hopkins’ undergraduate experience so it stands among the top ten in the nation.” The University is working on a variety of fronts to achieve that goal, from attracting better talent as faculty to improving infrastructure on and around the Homewood Campus.
“I think that this is an indicator that the recent changes and initiatives are in fact improving the school,” sophomore Ahmed Elsayyad said. “Initially, I was skeptical about President Daniel’s ‘Ten by Twenty’ but this initiative does appear to be making a difference, however small.”
For every student excited about the change there was another who greeted the news with a shrug.
“Rankings are super arbitrary and thus don’t have much value in terms of measuring the worth of a college,” sophomore Caitlin McDonald said. “So to me, it doesn’t mean much. Of course, I’m sure it matters for the University given that it might make Hopkins more appealing to prospective students.”
While the annual list released by U.S. News and World Report has come in for a fair amount of opprobrium over the years, it remains the benchmark for high school students applying to college and their parents.
The publication did tweak its methodology this year. The weight given to high school class standing was lowered while the weight given to standardized test scores was raised. The influence of graduation and retention rates on the overall score also increased.
Princeton, Harvard and Yale rounded out the top three this year, in that order. The Naval Academy in Annapolis was ranked as the top public college while the University of Maryland, College Park ranked 21st among public universities. The University of Maryland, Baltimore County was listed for the fifth year in a row as the first ranking “up-and-coming” public university. Loyola University took fifth place among regional universities in the north.
The publication also took note of Hopkins’ biomedical engineering program, again ranking it as the best in the country, and again best in opportunities for students to do independent and faculty-guided research. The University also made the “best value” list.
“There is no ranking system that can tell student A or student B which is the right university for him or her,” Daniels said. “Applicants should take the time to understand what is important to them and what a university has to offer. Various measures (including rankings) may be factors students consider but they should also take into account the programs, people, location, campus, culture—and ultimately fit. That said, it is always great to see recognition for the hard work of our faculty and staff in building a fabulous academic and student life experience.”