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Redefining College Rankings: The 2023/24 Top 25 US Colleges

09/12/202320 minute read
Redefining College Rankings: The 2023/24 Top 25 US Colleges

Welcome to those joining the Crimson Education community! We're thrilled to introduce our premiere 2023 Top 25 US Colleges and Universities List based on our unique cross-yield ranking method.

Year after year, countless students and guardians worldwide entrust their college aspirations to Crimson Education. Today, we unveil another groundbreaking resource: a fresh, innovative approach to ranking the Top 25 US Colleges and Universities.

We think this list provides the most accurate and unbiased ranked list of US colleges and universities out there. Keep reading to find out what makes our rankings uniquely tailored to the kinds of college decisions you’re grappling with, and see where your target schools rank against other top schools.

For years, Crimson's network of advisors, coaches, Former Admissions Officers, and expert tutors have steered students towards their dream colleges. Our students are frequently in the enviable position of fielding multiple offers to elite schools and face hard choices on where to matriculate. In this landscape, college rankings can provide a meaningful perspective on a life-altering decision.

Popular rankings published by the large news outlets, like US News & World Report and Forbes, possess noticeable shortcomings, but students and guardians have had few options to turn to. Now that’s changing…

Crimson Education’s new cross-yield method is a college ranking game-changer, offering students and their families a straightforward approach to college ranking that generates less biased and more relevant rankings. As a result, our Top 25 US Colleges and Universities rankings truly reflect which colleges are the best options for aspiring students in pursuit of a top-tier college experience and education

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Rethinking Rankings: Princeton vs. Stanford and Beyond

Traditional college rankings lean heavily on assorted data points, each weighted differently, posing the question: Do these multifaceted metrics genuinely benefit students and guardians?

Crimson co-founder and CEO Jamie Beaton knew that traditional ranking metrics weren’t providing his students and their families the most relevant reference points for their own college journeys, and he set out to create an alternative approach.

For example, leaders at Crimson Education — with insights from their global network — realized that while Princeton frequently topped national rankings, the majority of Crimson's own students, scholars, and guardians  preferred Harvard, MIT, or Stanford in any 1-to-1 matchup with Princeton.

With this in mind, let's unpack the limitations of conventional rankings and subsequently introduce Crimson’s innovative approach.

Drawbacks of Conventional College Ranking Methods

Conventional ranking systems rely on a wide range of scoring criteria that make the rankings seem valid and objective. But the results are not as objective, reliable, or useful as they seem. 

Today, many experts are voicing concerns about criterion-based methods, in some cases even spotlighting allegations of schools submitting “inaccurate, dubious, or misleading data.”

For example, the process of using hand-picked scoring criteria is inherently subjective. Even US News and World Report has acknowledged that a tweak in rankings criteria can abruptly and significantly change a college’s rank from one year to the next.

And, some metrics aren’t particularly insightful or relevant — such as comparing graduation rates between a host of top-tier universities where few students ever drop out, or integrating numerous criteria only relevant for postgraduate programs.

The Power of Crowdsourcing — Deeper Insights & More Relevant Factors

How do Crimson’s cross-yield rankings overcome these limitations?

Crimson's "cross-yield" method harnesses the power of crowdsourcing. While seemingly subjective, it has proven relevance and reliability and eliminates all the drawbacks inherent to criteria-based rankings.

While a crowdsourcing tabulation method may seem to lack “objective” criteria, it relies on something that’s actually more powerful for generating relevant insights.

When rankings are based on broad surveys they may seem subjective, but they actually turn out rankings that capture a vast ocean of insights from a large marketplace of respondents.

Crimson’s unique approach goes one step further: our cross-yield rankings leverage the collective wisdom our exclusive global network — a network of students, families, and scholars exceptionally motivated and well informed in their common pursuit of the best college experience and reputational impact possible.

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How Do “Cross-Yield” Rankings Work?

Conceptually and mathematically, the “cross-yield” ranking method is simple enough.

Yield Rates: In higher education, “yield” rates are subsets of acceptance rates. The “yield” rate simply refers to the number of students who accept the school’s offer and enroll.

Cross-Yield Rates: Imagine that 100 students have a choice to attend Harvard or Princeton. 75 choose Harvard and 25 choose Princeton. In this example, Harvard would have a higher cross-yield rate than Princeton (75% Harvard / 25% Princeton).

Cross-Yield Ranking Method: Crimson’s cross-yield method simply reflects school choices made by a large network of motivated students, offering a crowdsourced view of these students’ preferences between top institutions.

Through this lens and drawing from a vast pool of student decisions, Crimson crafts an unbiased, transparent ranking matrix that resonates with applicants' true priorities.

Here’s a glimpse of what the larger matrix looks like when the data is collected and tabulated:


For some people, basing rankings on crowdsourcing rather than “objective” metrics may seem about as subjective as it gets. But we’ve already seen that traditional metrics have limited informational value for many high school students making important college choices.

Corollaries from the world of Wall Street demonstrate just how powerful a crowdsourcing approach can be, and why criterion-based models aren’t as relevant or reliable as they may seem when it comes to ranking colleges, or stocks for that matter.

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The Wall Street Connection

Interestingly, the concept behind Crimson's ranking method mirrors principles from Wall Street.

The "efficient market hypothesis," a Nobel-winning economics concept, posits that criterion-based methods, even with experts calling the shots, fail to reliably identify the best-performing stocks. Instead, the collective choices of a wide pool of real investors offer unparalleled insights when it comes to evaluating the underlying fundamentals and prospects of different corporations.

Likewise, applying a laundry list of subjectively weighted criteria is not going to prove reliable when it comes to ranking colleges or informing students and families as to whether Princeton is better than Yale or vice versa.

This is why Crimson’s college rankings stand apart.

Rather than rely on a lot of complex criteria to create an illusion of objectivity and produce insights with doubtful relevance, Crimson Education’s cross-yield method captures the composite wisdom of our global student network.

As a result, Crimson Education’s Top 25 US Colleges & Universities transcends the limitations of traditional rankings to give students and families a far more insightful and relevant compass for their college journey.

Without exception, Crimson students and families have a lot of skin in the game. So when it comes to gathering relevant information about colleges and your admissions strategy, it’s hard to imagine a better source of collective wisdom. A lot like Mr. Market in the world of stock investing, Crimson’s global network provides one-of-a-kind insights for identifying and ranking top colleges and universities.

1Stanford UniversityStanford, CA
2Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridge, MA
3Harvard UniversityCambridge, MA
4Princeton UniversityPrinceton, NJ
5Yale UniversityNew Haven, CT
6Columbia UniversityNew York City, NY
7University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia, PA
8Brown UniversityProvidence, RI
9Northwestern UniversityEvanston, IL
10University of ChicagoChicago, IL
11University of California, BerkeleyBerkeley, CA
12University of Michigan, Ann ArborAnn Arbor, MI
13University of Notre DameNotre Dame, IN
14University of Southern CaliforniaLos Angeles, CA
15Vanderbilt UniversityNashville, TN
16Dartmouth CollegeHanover, NH
17Duke UniversityDurham, NC
18University of California, Los AngelesLos Angeles, CA
19John Hopkins UniversityBaltimore, MD
20Cornell UniversityIthaca, NY
21University of Texas, AustinAustin, TX
22Rice UniversityHouston, TX
23University of VirginiaCharlottesville, VA
24Washington University at St. LouisSt. Louis, MO
25Georgetown UniversityWashington, DC
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Final Thoughts

In a world inundated with rankings and lists, Crimson Education offers a refreshing, more pertinent methodology tailored for the next generation of undergraduate students.

We invite you to use this unique college ranking as one more resource to guide your own college journey. Where do your target schools rank? Does the list illuminate new schools or bring specific schools into focus for your decision making?

Remember, while we’re excited to unveil this fresh and more relevant ranking, it’s only one of many resources we provide to help students navigate college decisions.

Whether it’s getting help finding target schools aligned with your SAT/ACT score or partnering with an advisor for personalized admissions planning, Crimson Education brings strategy and support to today’s aspiring high school students who want help making their own college journey a success. 

Talk to an academic advisor today to learn about our numerous services and resources or to get a personalized roadmap for your own college destination.

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