Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
September 18, 2020
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COURTESY OF LEELA GEBO

Students compare the University’s ninth-place ranking to their own experiences at Hopkins. 

U.S. News & World Report ranked Hopkins at ninth best university in the country in its 2021 Best National University Rankings, moving up a place from the 10th place spot last year

Hopkins is tied with the California Institute of Technology and Northwestern University — ranked 11th and ninth in 2020, respectively — and has placed above Duke University, with which it was tied last year.

Other major international college rankings metrics place the University in the mid-20s, with Niche and QS World University Rankings ranking Hopkins 21st and 25th, respectively. The University ranked 12th in the world on the recently released Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

U.S. News bases its overall rankings on various factors, including faculty resources, selectivity, alumni-giving rate, classroom size and graduate indebtedness. Each ranking system weighs these factors differently.

Freshman Kobi Khong stated that he is pleased with the ranking even though he recognizes the process is flawed. 

“Up to a certain point, rankings are somewhat arbitrary. A school’s rank doesn’t indicate if it's good or not,” he said. “But there's always that underlying factor — we’re human, and that sort of competition drives us to do better and be better.” 

College ranking systems have come under criticisms as some argue that a single number cannot encapsulate a university. Ranking methodology is also based on a number of subjective criteria, including a measurement of “reputation” of institutions. 

On a program-by-program basis, the University’s Biomedical Engineering (BME) program ranked first in the U.S. The computer science program ranked 20th, and it shared the 13th place in Undergraduate Engineering Programs a six-way tie with Columbia University, Northwestern University, Texas A&M University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Virginia Tech. 

In an email to The News-Letter, sophomore Adriana Orduna compared overall-rankings to program-based ones. 

“A lot of these really prestigious universities have similar resources to offer at the end of the day,” she wrote. “Looking deeper into individual programs within a university depending on what you’re interested in is a better way to decide if a school is a good fit for you.” 

Junior BME major Ranjani Ramasubramanian noted that, although the University’s overall ranking did not impact her decision to apply, its high BME ranking encouraged her to look into the school three years ago.

Referencing a celebratory post from the University’s Instagram account over its rank-improvement, however, Ramasubramanian questioned the University’s priorities, particularly because so many students are more concerned with issues such as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

“Hopkins did not read the room when they posted that since our overall rankings are not the first things on our mind right now,“ she said. “There are other things we need to be taking care of. COVID testing needs to be our biggest priority right now.”

Orduna noted that there are many important factors in her college experience that are not included in the ranking criteria.

“I’ve found some very meaningful extracurriculars at JHU that make my experience even better,” she wrote. “One of the really special things about Hopkins is how all the students are really passionate about what they’re learning.” 

Despite ambivalence over the ranking system, Khong feels gives schools some motivation to improve.

“These rankings shouldn’t matter, but there’s always this part of you that gets jealous of other schools,” he said. “It kind of makes us better, because it gives us something to fight for, to show ourselves off.” 

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