Tufts dropped from 32 to 40 on the US News and World Report’s list of the best universities in America and ranked 287th out of 400 on the Wall Street Journal’s list earlier this month. Both publications tailored their algorithms this year to focus on alumni outcomes, analyzing metrics like graduation rates and graduates’ salaries when compiling their rankings.
The Journal debuted an all-new system for its 2024 rankings, evaluating schools’ performance in three umbrella categories: student outcomes, learning environment and diversity. In addition to its overall “best colleges” list, the Journal also published lists of the best schools for student experience, salary impact and social mobility.
US News updated its own ranking system this year with a similar focus on outcomes, adding first-generation graduation rates as a factor and increasing the importance of variables like borrower debt and Pell graduation rates in its formula. The publication used to only collect data on enrollment, but decided that the graduation rate is a better measure of Pell grantees’ success in college. US News also removed alumni giving rate, class size and new students’ high school class standings from consideration this year.
In response to the new lists, University President Sunil Kumar said he doesn’t place much stock in numerical college rankings.
“The number next to our name is immaterial,” Kumar wrote in an email to the Daily.
“What we do care about, however, is how well we are doing as a driver of our students’ social mobility — do we enroll students from across the economic spectrum, support them while they’re here, help them graduate, and provide them with the tools to succeed at their chosen careers.”
Tufts ranked 391st out of 400 colleges on the Wall Street Journal’s social mobility index, which rewarded schools that enrolled low-income students, kept tuition down and maintained high graduation rates.
“To the extent the data underlying the rankings provide meaningful assessment of our performance on these dimensions and match our own internal metrics, we should use the data to make relevant improvements in these areas,” Kumar wrote.
Director of Admissions JT Duck told the Daily via email that the university will examine the data that informed this year’s rankings to “learn more and to take appropriate action.”
“Tufts is a wonderful place to learn and grow with excellent academics and extracurriculars and a commitment to civic engagement that is unique in higher education,” Duck added. “That hasn’t changed one bit.”
Jessica Mann, a senior in her third semester as a tour guide, doesn’t think that the new rankings will undermine prospective students’ interest in Tufts.
“The people that we see on these tours are generally very academically excited, extracurricular-ly excited students,” Mann said. “I've never gotten a question that has to do with rankings before.”
She herself is not preoccupied with the rankings.
“It's not something that I would ever bring up on a tour,” she continued. “I don't really feel like rankings have a place in the discussion of what I think is great about Tufts.”