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Forbes Releases its Top Colleges List of 2022

Oct 26, 2022

Forbes has released its Top Colleges 2022 list. Forbes’ college ranking “spotlights schools that offer an excellent education at a great price, graduate high-earners and propel students to become successful entrepreneurs and influential leaders in their fields.”

This year, MIT tops the list, while UC Berkeley and Stanford are tied for second. Last year, UC Berkeley was ranked number one, making it the first public university to ever be ranked number one on Forbes’ list. Interestingly, Harvard and Yale dropped several spots this year—Harvard dropped from number seven in 2021 to fifteen in this years’ list, while Yale ranked number two in 2021 and number eight in 2022.

Emma Whitford of Forbes explained the ranking process, listing the datasets—both from private companies and government databases—that the company used, including the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, College Scorecard, PayScale, Third Way, the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, and some of Forbes’ own lists.

Forbes’ America’s Top Colleges of 2022 ranking was created based on specific criteria, which are as follows: alumni salary (20% of ranking), debt (15%), graduation rate (15%), Forbes American Leaders List (15%), return-on-investment (15%), retention rate (10%), and academic success (10%). While Whitford explains how the company gathered the data for each measure, she acknowledges that the data sources (including PayScale and College Scorecard) are not all perfect and can result in skewed data.

Alumni salary was calculated based on earnings salaries to determine the universities that produced the highest paid graduates. She specifically looked at median earnings 6 and 1o years post graduation. The average debt load was measured two different ways. The team at Forbes “multiplied the median federal loan debt per borrower by the percentage of students who take out federal loans at the college.” They also looked at each college’s five-year repayment rate.

Graduation rate at each school was measured by both the six year graduation rate for all students and the graduation rate for Pell Grant recipients. The Forbes American Leaders List is measured by how many listmakers each school produced. The lists include Forbes 30 Under 30, Forbes 400, Richest Self-Made Women and Most Powerful Women. The team at Forbes also included members of the government and winners of various awards including the Nobel Prize and the Academy Awards in this measure.

To measure return-on-investment, Whitford used Third Way, which provided a price-to-earnings premium for each college. Price-to-earnings premiums for low-income students were also included in this measure. Retention rate was calculated using IPED’s (the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System) “three-year average full-time student retention rate.”

Finally, academic success was measured by two factors. First, the team at Forbes “compiled the number of recent graduates at each college who have gone on to win Fulbright, Truman, Goldwater, and Rhodes scholarships.” They also included the average number of alumni who earned a Ph.D. over the last three years.

Forbes is just one of many rankings, all of which consider different data points to formulate their own lists. It’s important to research the factors each ranking uses when considering them. You can take a look at a comparison between Forbes, US News, and The Wall Street Journal rankings here.

The top 10 universities on Forbes America’s Top Colleges of 2022 are as follows:

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
2. University of California, Berkeley
2. Stanford University
4. Princeton University
5. Columbia University
6. University of California, Los Angeles
7. Williams College
8. Yale University
9. Duke University
10. University of Pennsylvania

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