Colleges & Universities

5 Illinois schools land on WSJ's ‘Best Colleges' list, but the rankings aren't ‘the usual suspects'

A new methodology used this year surfaced some "hidden gems," the Wall Street Journal said

Five Illinois colleges are among the top 50 "Best Colleges in America," a new report from the Wall Street Journal showed -- and the school rankings in Illinois and on the entire list may be surprising to some.

The WSJ ranking, released Wednesday, uses a methodology different than one used in years past, according to editors. As a result, the schools that landed on the list may not necessarily be just the "usual suspects."

"Some schools with longstanding reputations don't fare as well when we look at their student outcomes under our new methodology," the WSJ said in an Instagram post. For example, editors said, "Brown University and Johns Hopkins University, two of our top 10 for 2022, perform less outstandingly, at Nos. 67 and 99 respectively."

MORE: University of Illinois, 4 other Midwest schools rank on Forbes' ‘Top 25 Public Colleges' in US

For this year's ranking, editors said they worked with data scientists at Statista to use to put colleges and university on a "more level playing field." Editors also noted that their focus this year was on comparing the outcomes of each school's graduates against "what those students were likely to achieve no matter where they went to school."

"In effect, colleges aren’t just rewarded for their raw performance in traditional metrics;" WSJ wrote. "Rather, they’re also evaluated against a benchmark that shows how the schools improve the trajectories of their students’ careers."

The new technique, editors said, surfaced some "hidden gems."

In Illinois, the report showed the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign ranked ahead of the University of Chicago, a private school that frequently ranks high on national lists. And, even above those schools, Lake Forest College, a private school in Lake County, appeared in the list.

The report also took into account student experiences, with editors conducting more than 60,000 student and recent graduate surveys, WSJ said.

Only nine schools from the Midwest appeared in the report's top 50 list. Of those, five were in Illinois. The school that landed the No. 1 spot on the list was Princeton University in New Jersey.

Below is the full list of midwestern colleges that appeared in the top 50 of WSJ's "Best Colleges in America" list. Colleges in Illinois are highlighted in bold:

37. University of Chicago -- Illinois

35. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign -- Illinois

32. University of Notre Dame -- Indiana

28. University of Michigan Ann Arbor -- Michigan

27. Lake Forest College -- Illinois

26. Washington University in St. Louis -- Missouri

25. Northwestern University -- Illinois

23. Illinois Institute of Technology -- Illinois

17. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology -- Indiana

You can view the full report from the Wall Street Journal here.

Contact Us