UC Berkeley placed 22nd among U.S. universities and first among public universities, according to Forbes rankings published online Wednesday.
The university jumped 28 spots from 2012, moving from 50th to 22nd. From 2011 to 2012, UC Berkeley moved from 70th to 50th.
Forbes and the Center for College Affordability and Productivity have been collaborating for the past six years to produce the America’s Top Colleges rankings. Their ranking system considers five criteria: student satisfaction, postgraduate success, student debt, graduation rates and the number of nationally competitive awards given to students.
Richard Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, created the ranking system in conjunction with Forbes. Vedder said that his overall philosophy when creating the system was basing rankings on qualities he believes students value when choosing a college to attend. He said that some of the things UC Berkeley excels at, like research, are not considered in the rankings.
“We are interested in outcomes rather than inputs,” Vedder said. “We are less interested in things that other ranking systems value, like what academics think of a school’s reputation.”
Although UC Berkeley usually ranks in the top five or 10 public universities on the list, this is the first year Forbes ranked it as the number one public university.
Vedder said UC Berkeley’s higher ranking was caused in part by the successes of both current students and alumni.
“UC Berkeley alumni are very, very successful, and they make a lot of money,” Vedder said. “They tend to also have academic success after college, with large numbers of them attaining Ph.D.s or other academic merits. Current students at UC Berkeley receive a lot of awards for their work.”
Other factors that influenced UC Berkeley’s rise in rankings, according to Vedder, include four-year graduation rates and low student debt.
“Although student debt is not at zero when they graduate, it is significantly lower than at other schools,” Vedder said.
UC Berkeley freshman Maribel Hernandez said she was impressed by UC Berkeley’s rise in the Forbes ranking this year because of the success and achievements of alumni.
“Just by being a Berkeley student, I’m on my way there,” Hernandez said. “I want to be one of those people who graduate and become a successful alumni, like the ones counted in the rankings.”
Contact Elise Lagana-Aliotti at [email protected]