How Philly Schools Fared in U.S. News’s 2020 College Rankings

Please don’t read this till you’ve sworn to yourself that you won’t use the results to pressure your already stressed-out children.

us news 2020

L to R: Buildings at Penn, Swarthmore and Villanova

These days, teenage kids are stressed. This much we know. The question of why, though, is more nebulous. One obvious answer could be that it has something to do with the constant culture of competition and parental (or self-imposed) pressure — all in the name of getting into one of the country’s “best” colleges, which becomes a proxy for a kid’s self-worth. (Another could be that it’s all Instagram’s fault.)

If the college pressure theory is true, well, we’re sorry to pile on. But U.S. News & World Report released its latest and greatest list of the best colleges in the country on Monday, and we feel we should give you the update.

As is usually the case with these rankings, there really isn’t a whole lot to update, at least at the top of the list. Princeton University resides, as it has for the past nine years, in the penthouse of this ivory tower. In the liberal arts category, Swarthmore College retained its #3 spot. The University of Pennsylvania, however, did manage to make a leap — from eighth place to sixth on the National Universities list. (According to the rankings, the school is still inferior to other Ivy League institutions such as Harvard, Yale, and Columbia. Sorry … numbers don’t lie!)

As a publication that embarks on our own, occasionally controversial annual rankings endeavor, we’re used to hearing calls that the fix is in. But as U.S. News will tell you, there is a very clear, empirical methodology behind the rankings — things like student-to-faculty ratio, graduation rate, standardized test scores, and alumni donations. Then again, as certain people at Temple’s Fox School of Business can attest, if the numbers are empirical, that also means they can be artificially inflated.

Speaking of Temple, the Owls took 104th place in the National Universities category, up from 106th last year. But in the undergrad business rankings, the school fell 17 spots, from 62nd to 79th.

Here’s how other schools in the region fared. (For those less parochial than ourselves, you can consult the full list of schools here.)

National Universities

  • Villanova University (46th)
  • Lehigh University (50th)
  • Penn State University (57th)
  • Drexel University (97th)
  • Thomas Jefferson University (153rd)

National Liberal Arts Colleges

  • Haverford College (11th)
  • Bryn Mawr College (27th)
  • Franklin & Marshall College (38th)
  • Lafayette College (39th)
  • Dickinson College (46th)
  • Ursinus College (82nd)

Regional Universities (North)

  • St. Joseph’s University (10th)
  • La Salle University (38th)
  • Arcadia University (42nd)

Historically Black Colleges and Universities

  • Lincoln University (19th)
  • Cheyney University (52nd)

Public Schools

  • Penn State University (18th)
  • University of Delaware (39th)
  • Temple University (44th)

Best Value (As calculated by dividing colleges’ overall rankings by their price and number of students receiving financial aid, among other factors)

  • Swarthmore College (4th among liberal arts colleges)
  • University of Pennsylvania (15th among national universities)
  • Villanova University (54th among national universities)
  • Thomas Jefferson University (64th among national universities)
  • Drexel University (74th among national universities)
  • Temple University (99th among national universities)

So there you have it: many schools with many different rankings. As the famous proverb goes, “The thousand-mile journey to a top college begins with a single top public high school.” Good thing we have that list, too.