To be clear, much of the Wall Street Journal/College Pulse 2024 list of the Best Colleges in the U.S. went as expected. Princeton University was No. 1, followed by traditional elite universities such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology (No. 2), Yale University (No. 3), Stanford University (No. 4), Columbia University (No. 5), Harvard University (No. 6) and the University of Pennsylvania (No. 7).
From there, it got a little bit different.
The rankings, which place more emphasis on student outcomes (makes sense) and feedback from students and alumni (makes sense, too), enabled a number of new schools to jump into the elite ranks, including Claremont McKenna College (No. 9), Babson College (No. 10), Swarthmore College (No. 11), Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (No. 17) … and New Jersey Institute of Technology (No. 19).
For the ranking, which were released Wednesday, WSJ/College Purse surveyed more than 60,900 students and recent alumni nationally, asking more than 50 questions about learning opportunities, career preparation, campus facilities, diversity and the campus community.
For example, the survey asked: “How satisfied are you with the value for money your college provides?”
Because of this, colleges are not simply rewarded for their raw performance in traditional metrics. Instead, they are judged on how they help improve the trajectories of their students’ careers.
NJIT, which has long promoted its ability to place its graduates in good (and high-paying) jobs, was thrilled by the new methodology — feeling it speaks to issues that are most important to students. And does so in a fashion where colleges can’t game the system.
“This ranking confirms that NJIT is an exceptional public polytechnic university that primes students for rewarding careers, particularly in STEM disciplines,” NJIT President Teik Lim said. “We are focused on outcomes and enabling graduates to realize their goals, so they can personally thrive and make significant contributions to society.”
Lofty rankings are becoming the norm at NJIT, which was the second-highest rated public school on the list (the University of Florida was No. 15).
The New York Times college ranking tool rates NJIT No. 1 nationally among all public universities when you prioritize high alumni earnings, economic mobility and academic profile. Additionally, NJIT stands among the Top 100 universities in the U.S. for alumni mid-career earnings, according to PayScale.com, is ranked No. 35 nationally by the Princeton Review as a Best Value College and is rated among the Top 50 public national universities and Top 100 overall by U.S. News & World Report.
The rankings listed only 400 schools. (The complete list is here, but it’s behind a paywall.) And you can be sure, many traditionally elite universities are not happy: Brown University came in at No. 67, but that was well ahead of Johns Hopkins University (No. 99), New York University (No. 166) and Tufts University (No. 287).
Other New Jersey schools on the list included:Stevens Institute of Technology: No. 36 Montclair State University: No. 104 Rutgers-New Brunswick: No. 162 Stockton University: No. 253 Rowan University: No. 302