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U.S. News & World Report Announces the 2021 Best Colleges Rankings

New edition ranks schools with test-blind admissions policies

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels

U.S. News & World Report, the global authority in education rankings, today unveiled the 2021 U.S. News Best Colleges. As students and schools grapple with the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. News remains committed to providing data-driven information and guidance to help prospective students and their families understand their higher education options.

“International students are facing new challenges and factors to consider when making education plans in a world affected by the coronavirus pandemic,” said Kim Castro, editor and chief content officer of U.S. News. “Whether you’re taking classes online or opting for a gap year, U.S. News continues to provide helpful tools for navigating higher education, even during such an unusual time.”

This year’s edition includes several updates to the Best Colleges methodology. In this edition, U.S. News:

  • Increased the weight of outcome measures. Outcomes – such as graduation and retention rates, graduate indebtedness and social mobility – now account for 40% of the Best Colleges methodology, up from 35% last year. The weights for SAT and ACT scores, high school class standing and alumni giving were reduced. 
  • Ranked test-blind schools. Schools that do not make use of SAT or ACT scores in their admissions process are now included in the rankings, having previously been listed as unranked. While schools still widely accept SAT and ACT scores from applicants, a number of schools have either temporarily or indefinitely discontinued accepting these scores. 
  • Added a new ranking of computer science programs. The 2021 Best Undergraduate Computer Science Programs ranking includes more than 450 schools. In addition, the computer science specialty rankings evaluate schools across nine areas, including cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and software engineering.

For the 2021 rankings, Princeton University is once again No. 1 among National Universities, and Williams College remains in the top spot among National Liberal Arts Colleges. For Top Public Schools, the University of California—Los Angeles is No. 1 among National Universities. The United States Naval Academy ranks No. 1 for Top Public Schools among National Liberal Arts Colleges.

This 36th edition of Best Colleges evaluates more than 1,400 U.S. colleges and universities on 17 indicators of academic quality. The data used in the 2021 Best Colleges rankings pertains to student and faculty cohorts that predate the pandemic. For more information, visit U.S. News Best Colleges and continue the conversation on Weibo.

2021 U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges

National Universities – Top 3

  1. Princeton University (NJ) 
  2. Harvard University (MA) 
  3. Columbia University (NY)

National Liberal Arts Colleges – Top 3

  1. Williams College (MA) 
  2. Amherst College (MA) 
  3. Swarthmore College (PA)

Top Public Schools

National Universities – Top 3

  1. University of California—Los Angeles 
  2. University of California—Berkeley 
  3. University of Michigan—Ann Arbor

National Liberal Arts Colleges – Top 3

  1. United States Naval Academy (MD) 
  2. United States Military Academy (NY) 
  3. United States Air Force Academy (CO)

Schools With the Most International Students

National Universities – Top 3

The New School (NY): 31%
University of Rochester (NY): 27%
Florida Institute of Technology: 24%

National Liberal Arts Colleges – Top 3

Soka University of America (CA): 45%
Mount Holyoke College (MA): 27%
College of the Atlantic (ME): 26%

A new feature this year for those with free U.S. News accounts is access to our College Admissions Calculator. Among other things, this tool enables users to see how their high school GPA, SAT and ACT scores stack up with other individuals who were reportedly accepted, waitlisted and rejected at different schools. On schools’ profile pages, prospective students can see ratings and reviews by current students, faculty and alumni. Alongside the reviews are Q&A sections for each school, answering questions on topics like extracurricular activities and campus culture.

Throughout the year, U.S. News also publishes editorial content related to the college experience for international students, including updates on student visa regulations,tips for transferring schools in the U.S. and options for taking a gap year due to the pandemic.

On Sept. 28, U.S. News will host a webinar on The Road Ahead for International Students in the U.S. featuring a panel of experts. Sponsored by TOEFL, the webinar is free to attend and will explore questions related to how the pandemic may impact admissions and financial aid, as well as how U.S. schools are supporting their international students through this time.

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