According to the new Forbes America’s Top Colleges 2018 list, UC Berkeley ranked as the No. 1 public school in the nation.
Overall, Forbes ranked UC Berkeley as 14th, below Cornell University and above Columbia University. Last year, Berkeley ranked as the third best public school, 29th overall — thus, climbing two and 15 spots, respectively, according to Carter Coudriet, an assistant editor at Forbes.
Coudriet said Forbes’ ranking methodology focuses on a school’s outputs rather than its inputs.
“Forbes doesn’t base (its rankings) on SAT schools of entrants, a school’s acceptance rate, its reputation, and so on,” Coudriet said in an email. “Forbes looks at results, such as alumni salary, graduation rate, and so on.”
Campus spokesperson Michael Dirda said in an email that the Forbes rankings bring the institution recognition both nationally and abroad, along with other college rankings in which Berkeley does well. In the future, this can increase the number of applicants, allowing for the admittance of a “stronger class from a larger pool of applicants.”
When asked if campus administration pursues policies in order to better rankings, Dirda noted the campus does not make decisions primarily to scoring highly on rankings.
“Berkeley exists to serve a mission of teaching, research, and public service — and campus decision-making focuses squarely on that goal,” Dirda said in an email. “Rankings like these use their own criteria in determining what makes a university the best, which may or may not overlap with what the campus considers important for serving its mission.”’
In addition, this year the Academic Ranking of World Universities, or ARWU, ranked UC Berkeley as the nation’s top public university. ARWU also ranked UC Berkeley across departments, including more than a dozen in the top five and the department of chemistry as No. 1 nationally.
Sabreen Elbaz, a prospective applicant to the department of geography graduate studies program, tied the ranking to her experiences applying to UC Berkeley graduate schools.
“It seems intuitive to me that Berkeley is on top because it has always been at the center of innovation, with an inspiring base of students and researchers,” said Elbaz. “Today, I am working toward becoming a stronger applicant, taking into account more its top ranking.”
Austin Liscano, an incoming interdisciplinary studies junior transfer studying history and botany, said he agreed with the ranking.
“I think based on the facts presented, the ranking seems accurate, especially when you take a look at the high average alumni salary,” Liscano said.
UC Berkeley is particularly strong when it comes to alumni salary. According to PayScale, its alumni’s midcareer salary is 30th in the nation, an output that amounts to 20 percent of Forbes’ methodology.