Hopkins fell from seventh to ninth in this year’s U.S. News & World Report Best National University Rankings, published on Monday, Sept. 18. Currently tied with Brown University and Northwestern University at ninth place, Hopkins was previously tied with the University of Pennsylvania for seventh place. Prior to last year, Hopkins was ranked ninth for two consecutive years.
The U.S. News & World Report ranking is determined by a variety of criteria, with the most important being peer assessments (20%), graduation rates (16%), graduation rate performance (10%) and financial resources per student (8%).
This marks a change from previous years, as the criteria of class size, terminal degree faculty, alumni donation rate and high school class standing have been completely eliminated.
The change in methodology for national rankings has been partially attributed to pushback from major universities and other critics of college rankings. In particular, several public institutions rose significantly through the ranks, although the top 20 university rankings remained relatively unchanged.
Freshman Naomi Crane discussed her thoughts on the University’s marginal drop in rankings this year in an interview with The News-Letter.
“In some regards, it's pretty nominal, compared to how much other schools moved,“ she said. “I think a lot of the movements are pretty big this year, so we didn't drop too much. And I think it'll go back and forth over the years.”
Crane also emphasized perceived flaws in current ranking systems, including the lack of focus on diversity or representation of first-generation students in universities.
“I know for Hopkins, a big thing for this year was demographics in terms of underrepresented students,” she said. “But that doesn't affect [the ranking]. So we have some wins in the absolutes [this] year, but the rankings don't fully consider everything. I'm not sure if it's a good way to paint a picture of the quality of the school or its students.”
In an interview with The News-Letter, junior Tess Lepelstat echoed the inherent flaws in current college ranking systems while admitting slight disappointment in the University’s drop in ranking.
“I think that the U.S. News ranking can be a little bit arbitrary at times, especially considering they only consider certain parts of data,” she said. “But it was a little upsetting to see Hopkins ranking [go down].”
Due to grievances against national ranking criteria, 12 of the top 14 law schools and seven of the top 20 medical schools, including Hopkins, have withdrawn from multiple U.S. News & World Report rankings.
In an email to The News-Letter, Assistant Vice President for Media Relations and News J.B. Bird reaffirmed the University’s commitment to academic excellence and focus on long-term improvements.
“While it's always an honor to be recognized as one of the top universities, we do not preoccupy ourselves with rankings year to year,“ he wrote. “Rather, we look at the underlying data that goes into them to understand where we are making progress and where there is room for improvement.”
“The plan includes major new initiatives and improvements that will directly benefit students, such as creating the preeminent undergraduate experience at a research university, fostering stronger connections between our students and faculty, providing unrivaled mentorship and life design, and creating a culture of support and belonging that enables all of our students to discover their passions and reach their potential,” Bird wrote.
Hopkins remained tied in first place for Best Biomedical Engineering Programs, one of its most popular majors. Hopkins is also ranked 14th for overall Best Engineering Schools, fourth for Best Undergraduate Bioinformatics/Biotechnology Programs and 22nd for Best Economics Schools.
Hopkins also remains in ninth for Best Value Schools and Most Innovative Schools, both unchanged from last year. The School of Medicine also ranked second for Best Medical Schools: Research, behind only Harvard.
Freshman Athena Zhao explained that the overall college ranking is not as important to her as the quality of the university in her specific field.
“Because I'm an engineering major, I care more about the ranking of my major and the quality of my education that I get from my major than the general ranking of the school,” she said in an interview with The News-Letter. “Plus, we've been [in the top 10] for a long time. So I don't feel like [this] is going to negatively impact my career path or education.”
Lepelstat also admitted that now, as a Hopkins student, she cares less about the University’s national ranking.
“When I applied, I was happy that the ranking was very good,” she said. “But now that I'm here, I don't really care about it as much. Does ranking have any effect on your thinking or [what you] care about in college?”