The US News Rankings 2022: Analyzing the Admissions Landscape

Padya Paramita

The US News Rankings 2022: Analyzing the Admissions Landscape

US News’ ranking of the best programs and universities around the country is generally regarded as one of the best determinants of the top colleges in the United States. Last week, the institution released the US News Rankings 2022 for colleges and universities. Although rankings do hold importance to prospective students, ultimately applying to any school is a challenge with how cutthroat the admissions process currently is. In this blog, we have outlined the US News Rankings 2022 for the top 50 national universities, gone over the latest changes, discussed what the rankings mean for the admissions process, and finally, detailed how you can make yourself a competitive applicant for one of these schools.

Rank School
1 Princeton University
2 Columbia University
2 Harvard University
2 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
5 Yale University
6 Stanford University
6 University of Chicago
8 University of Pennsylvania
9 California Institute of Technology
9 Duke University
9 Northwestern University
13 Dartmouth College
14 Brown University
14 Vanderbilt University
14 Washington University in St. Louis
17 Cornell University
17 Rice University
19 University of Notre Dame
20 University of California - Los Angeles
21 Emory University
22 University of California - Berkeley
23 Georgetown University
23 University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
25 Carnegie Mellon University
25 University of Virginia
27 University of Southern California
28 New York University
28 Tufts University
28 University of California - Santa Barbara
28 University of Florida
28 University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
28 Wake Forest University
34 University of California - San Diego
34 University of Rochester
36 Boston College
36 University of California - Irvine
38 Georgia Institute of Technology
38 University of California - Davis
38 University of Texas - Austin
38 William & Mary
42 Boston University
42 Brandeis University
42 Case Western Reserve University
42 Tulane University
42 University of Wisconsin - Madison
47 University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign
48 University of Georgia
49 Lehigh University
49 Northeastern University
49 Pepperdine University
49 Purdue University
49 Villanova University

Changes in the US News Rankings 2022 from Last Year’s List

Princeton University topped the US News rankings for the 11th year in a row. The university is known for its comparatively low faculty-to-student ratio and a strong student retention rate. Columbia University rose to number #2 from #3, while MIT moved up from #4 to #2. Yale University fell from #4 to #5. Duke is the only new school to make its way into the top 10, moving up from No. 12 in last year’s edition of the rankings. Duke has been getting more and more selective each year, boasting one of the lowest acceptance rates currently. As for the rest of the top 50, no school moved up or down by more than three or four spots.

What the US Rankings 2022 Mean for the Admissions Process

The US News Rankings 2022 are based on factors such as graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, and alumni giving rate. These numbers are dependent on many factors that are out of institutions’ control. Schools’ acceptance rates have also been going down at numerous schools, both because of the increased number of applicants over the years alongside schools’ understanding that lower acceptance rates can help them rise higher in the rankings.

The test-optional policies implemented due to COVID-19 also impacted the changes. According to US News, “Schools now receive full credit on ACT/SAT scores when they reported on at least 50% of new entrants for fall 2020. In previous years, the threshold was 75%. This change was made to account for the growth of test-optional policies and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the fall 2020 admissions process for many schools.”

That said, don’t pin a school as a safety just because it’s placed lower in the US News rankings 2022. Boston University, for example, is ranked #42 and has an acceptance rate of only 18.3%. The overall rankings also don’t determine rankings for different subjects. Even though Indiana University—Bloomington is not even in the top 50 (it’s #68), its business school, Kelley is ranked #8 in the nation for undergraduates. Similarly, while the University of Illinois might be a safety or target for humanities students, it’s extremely competitive for subjects such as engineering and computer science. 

How to Maximize Your Chances at a Top School

After reviewing the US News rankings 2022, you might be nervous about your chances. If you are about to make your college list, review numbers such as admit rates, accepted students’ SAT scores, and average GPA carefully. Since the admissions process is getting more and more cutthroat every year, make sure you have a tiered list of colleges where you see yourself being happy. Of course, you shouldn’t pick schools where you don’t see yourself fitting in, but don’t just apply to the top 10 schools!

Have different kinds of options on the table. Do your research and have a good amount of target and safety schools. It’s natural to have a dream school that sits atop the US News Rankings 2022, but it’s also very important to be realistic. High standardized test scores and GPAs are no longer enough to get into top schools, and aren't unique in the applicant pool. Almost everyone who applies to top schools has accumulated impressive extracurriculars, excelled in their classes, has compelling personal statements, and glowing letters of recommendation.

Numbers do not always make or break your application. Even if you have an SAT score on the lower side, a compelling background or impactful achievement can put you among the top candidates. Once your score is out, don’t waste time beating yourself up over it. Work on things you do have control over. There are other areas where you can shine!

So, do you need to invent teleportation or find the cure to cancer to get into college these days? Well, that wouldn’t hurt your chances. But, if that’s not a possibility right now, what’s important is that you show a tangible impact in your extracurriculars, have a strong passion that shines through, make a difference in your community, and stand out from other applicants. If you’re currently in high school, you should begin preparing for the application process far in advance. Start pursuing extracurriculars in ninth grade so that you can commit to them and make a meaningful impact as you take on more leadership positions. Explore more extracurricular activities outside school: whether it's starting your own non-profit, seeking an internship, or pursuing research or fieldwork opportunities.

While your numbers can’t make you stand out, a top-notch application definitely can. With acceptance rates running rampant, it is now more important than ever to invest time and effort into your college applications. A big part of conveying your narrative is writing an incredible personal statement that is unique to you. Start brainstorming about your personal statement sometime mid-junior year of high school so that you have plenty of time to formulate an essay and get plenty of drafts out of the way before your final polished piece. Take advantage of supplemental essays as well to demonstrate your fit. Tell your story in your voice and show admissions officers how you can be an asset to their institution.

The US News Rankings 2022 can help you determine what counts as reach, target, and safety schools as you decide where you wish to apply. However, remember that the decisions schools make are a lot more nuanced than that. You have to show that you can be an asset to the school and contribute in meaningful ways. Take advantage of the different components to highlight your strengths and give yourself a strong chance in the process. Good luck!

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