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U.S. News Ranks MIT In Top Five

By Elizabeth Jordan

MIT tied for fifth among national universities this year in the U.S. News and World Report annual college rankings, unchanged overall from last year.

Princeton ranked first for the second consecutive year, Harvard and Yale tied for second, and the California Institute of Technology placed fourth. MIT tied with Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania for fifth.

As usual, MIT ranked well in the undergraduate engineering rankings, placing first overall. MIT also took top honors in aeronautical/astronautical engineering, chemical engineering, computer engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and nuclear engineering.

Undergraduate Association President Jaime E. Devereaux ’02 was pleased with MIT’s standing in the rankings, but she doubts their actual significance. “It’s encouraging that we were ranked first in undergraduate engineering and second in business,” Devereaux said, but “Rankings are not a defining gauge of what MIT is like ... They are not the most accurate way to describe this school.”

U.S. News ranks colleges in part to help high school students choose between competitive universities, but for many current MIT students, the rankings were only a starting point. “I looked at the rankings when I chose which colleges to look at, but it only affected the first stage,” said Alan J. Bergquist ’05.

Sloan ranked second in business

Among undergraduate business programs, the Sloan School of Management tied for second with University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, just below the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. MIT also placed first in five business specialties: Supply Chain Management/ Logistics, Production/ Operations Management, Quantitative Analysis/ Methods, Management Information Systems, and E-Commerce.

President Charles M. Vest said that he was pleased with MIT’s ranking this year. “It is gratifying that our reputation and a variety of metrics have again placed us in the very top cluster of U.S. universities,” Vest said. He also took satisfaction in MIT’s continually strong engineering and management rankings.

However, Vest echoed sentiments heard from MIT administrators for years regarding the validity and significance of the U.S. News rankings. “I continue to believe that it is meaningless to split hairs to put top schools in a specific rank order,” Vest said.

Ranking system less than perfect

U.S. News ranks colleges based on factors including academic reputation, acceptance rate, high school class standing, standardized test scores, alumni donation rates, freshman retention rate, class size and student to faculty ratio.

Despite the emphasis on quantitative rankings, some at MIT are unconvinced that they provide an accurate reflection of colleges. Dean for Undergraduate Education Robert P. Redwine said of the process, “In general, these rankings are pretty subjective ... Detailed rankings make no sense.”

MIT ranks high in value, diversity

U.S. News ranked MIT eighth for Best Value among national universities. These ranking are based on the average cost of the college after receiving need-based grants, and the average discount from the total cost.

MIT ranked sixth in campus diversity, scoring 0.65 out of a possible 1.00. Rutgers, the state university of New Jersey, placed first with a score of 0.72.