When considering the top ranked universities in America the schools that come to mind include Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and even USC. Although these are prestigious schools, not one of them was ranked at number one by Forbes “America’s Top Colleges” this year. In fact, for the first time ever Forbes ranked a public university in it’s number one spot, the University of California, Berkeley. Along with UC Berkeley, six other UC schools ranked within the top fifty. Within the national ranking UCLA was placed at number eight, UCSD at number fifteen, UC Davis at number twenty, UCSB at number thirty-nine, and UCI at number forty-seven.
UC Berkeley is a great school, but when comparing it to the prestigious Ivy leagues we have to consider why Berkeley was ranked so high. As a public university, UC Berkeley is comparably more affordable to other well known private universities. At $14,000 a year ($29,000 for out-of-state students) students are able to pay back their college cost in 0.7 years (Fernandez, 2021). This is true for even students from low-income backgrounds. Not only that but, at UC Berkeley 27% of students receive pell grants, while at Harvard only 12% receive this form of aid (Schelenz, 2021). Pell grants are awarded to students displaying a need for financial aid. This usually consists of students whose families make less than $20,000 a year.
By making themselves affordable to a broad range of students to receive a rich and practical education, UC Berkeley is able to have a much more diverse group of students attending their campus. This is true for all schools within the University of California system, and will hopefully be true for private schools in the near future. UC schools make themselves more affordable to students of all backgrounds through the use of financial aid, welcoming a larger and much more diverse student population.
When considering their college ranking list this year, Forbes truly displayed the value of inclusivity in education — providing all students, not just a privileged few, with outstanding educational opportunities, (Kreznar, 2021). The college ranking list this year accredited schools that educated students from the most diverse backgrounds. The more accessible a school was to low-income students the better. Hopefully in the future this will push more exclusive colleges to reconsider their application process.
The Effect of College Rankings on Acceptance Rates
Although Forbes rankings of, “America’s Top Colleges,” allowed public universities to be recognized in comparison to prestigious private universities, it can also lead to the possibility of smaller acceptance rates for schools such as UC Berkeley. UC Berkeley naturally will become a more attractive landing spot for high school seniors and potentially make it more stressful for qualifying applicants. College rankings change each year, and will continue to change as ranking considerations change and develop. But, for this year it is best to assume that the top colleges ranked will be heavily impacted as students attempt to gain admittance. This should not discourage students from applying, but instead motivate them to stand out on their applications. Students should embrace the search and feel motivated by the array of options, especially for those seeking public universities in California.
By Viviana Cabrera