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These Schools Saw The Highest Jumps In The 2024 Best Colleges Rankings

Each year, U.S. News & World Report releases an official ranking of colleges and universities to aid students in making their post-secondary education decisions. The official rankings, which come out annually each fall, are eagerly anticipated by students and colleges alike. With college application season in full swing, the 2024 Best Colleges rankings can help students choose the best college for them — especially when schools they hadn’t considered before suddenly become higher-ranked.

U.S. News takes several factors into consideration when ranking schools, including location, price, and programs offered. Choosing a college is an important decision and the process can be daunting, so seeing a fair and objective ranking can be very helpful for deciding.

However, it’s important to take these rankings with a grain of salt. Ultimately, the most important thing to consider when making your college decision is your own personal goals. Do you want to go to a small school or one with thousands of students? Do you want to live near the mountains or in the city? Which schools offer the best financial aid?

It’s also important to remember that many of the “top” schools ranked are Ivy Leagues or other extremely expensive universities. Remember that it’s completely possible to receive a great education even if your school isn’t ranked the highest on this list.

How do the U.S. News Best Colleges Rankings work?

In order to be ranked, schools need to meet certain conditions, including having regional accreditation and reporting a six-year graduation rate of full-time, first-year bachelor’s degree seeking students. The categories U.S. News uses are National Universities, National Liberal Arts Colleges, Regional Universities, and Regional Colleges. For Regional Colleges and Universities, schools are additionally ranked in four geographical groups: North, South, East, and West.

Almost 1,500 universities were evaluated for the 2024 rankings.This year, U.S. News made some adjustments on their ranking methodology. They dropped five longstanding factors: alumni giving rate, class size, the high school class standing of new students, the proportion of graduates with debt, and the proportion of family with terminal degrees. U.S. News also modified the weight of several factors, and added a few new ones, like the proportion of employed graduates who are earning more than typical high school graduates.

Which schools jumped the most in the 2024 Best Colleges rankings?

Several schools saw a significant increase in their rankings in the 2024 official list, which may sway your decision if you were on the fence about applying to any of them. Here are the top five schools that saw increases this year:

  1. Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Ranked No. 296 in National Universities, up 106 spots from 2023.

  1. University of Texas at San Antonio

Ranked No. 280 in National Universities and No. 151 in Top Public Schools, up 92 spots from 2023.

  1. California State University, East Bay

Ranked No. 296 in National Universities and No. 159 in Top Public Schools, up 88 spots from 2023.

  1. Florida Gulf Coast University

Ranked No. 304 in National Universities, up 80 spots from 2023.

  1. University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Ranked No. 227 in National Universities and No. 123 in Top Public Schools, up 72 spots from 2023.

The 2024 U.S. News Best Colleges Rankings’ Top Schools Overall

OK, you probably also want to know who’s at the top of the list overall. Here are the top three schools overall in each category for 2024:

National Universities

  1. Princeton University
  2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology 
  3. Harvard University and Stanford University (tie)

National Liberal Arts Universities

  1. Williams College
  2. Amherst College 
  3. United States Naval Academy 

Top Public Schools — National

  1. University of California, Berkeley and University of California, Los Angeles (tie)
  2. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 

Top Public Schools — National Liberal Arts

  1. United States Naval Academy 
  2. United States Air Force Academy 
  3. United States Military Academy at West Point 

Note: For the following categories, “social mobility” refers to how successful a school is at enrolling and graduating disadvantaged students awarded Pell Grants.

Top Performers on Social Mobility — National

  1. California State University, Long Beach 
  2. California State University, Fullerton and California State University, Riverside (tie)
  3. California State University, San Bernardino and University of California, Merced (tie)

Top Performers on Social Mobility — National Liberal Arts

  1. Lake Forest College 
  2. Agnes Scott College, Salem College, and Spelman College (tie)

Be sure to check out the full list of 2024 U.S. News Rankings for more information on where your dream school was ranked.

Jordyn Stapleton has been a National Lifestyle Writer for Her Campus since February 2023. She covers a variety of topics in her articles, but is most passionate about writing about mental health and social justice issues. Jordyn graduated from CU Boulder in December 2022 with Bachelor’s degrees in music and psychology with a minor in gender studies and a certificate in public health. Jordyn was involved in Her Campus during college, serving as an Editorial Assistant and later Editor-in-Chief for the CU Boulder chapter. She has also worked as a freelance stringer for the Associated Press. Jordyn is currently taking a gap year and working at a local business in Boulder, with hopes of attending graduate school in fall 2024. Jordyn enjoys reading, bullet journalling, and listening to (preferably Taylor Swift) music in her free time. If she isn’t brainstorming her next article, you can usually find her exploring coffee shops or hiking trails around Boulder with her friends.