For the first time in nine years, Princeton was not in the top spot when U.S. News & World Report released its ranking of the “Best National Universities” Aug. 22. That honor went to Harvard. Princeton, rated No. 2 by U.S. News, won the top spot in the new Forbes.com rankings and received high marks from other publications (see below). The University did not respond to specific ratings, saying in a news release that while it appreciates the praise, “no ranking can capture whether a school is the best choice for an individual student.”
Princeton has the largest percentage of African-American undergraduates in the Ivy League — 8.7 percent — and a 92 percent graduation rate for black students. But with a relatively low social-environment score — 3.5 on a five-point scale — the University ranked 23rd in the “Top 50 Colleges for African Americans,” sixth among the seven Ivies on the list.
Princeton, Harvard, Yale, and Columbia were the only Ivies in the top 25 of this new list, which intermingled large and small colleges. Forbes.com relied on quantitative factors, such
as graduation rates and student debt, as well as subjective ones, including student ratings of
faculty from RateMyProfessors.com.
No loans? No worries. Surveys placed Princeton No. 1 in “students happy with financial aid” and No. 3 in “happiest students.” Scenery may also play a role — the University has the nation’s “most beautiful campus,” according to “The Best 368 Colleges,” Princeton Review’s annual guidebook.
U.S. News placed Princeton first for students graduating with the least debt and second among national universities for “best value.” The guide continues to get a lukewarm response from college administrators: More than half — including President Tilghman — declined to fill out the peer survey that accounts for a quarter of the ranking score.