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US university rankings: what should you consider?

17 Aug 2020 - Lindsay Bennett

Each new academic year brings new US university ranking lists, from U.S. News Best Colleges to the Times Higher Education World Rankings to the many top-100 lists published in the media. With so many statistics about admission rates and enrollment yields, grade point averages and average test scores, looking at all the results can quickly feel overwhelming!

One of the most important things to look out for is a university’s education outcomes. How well does a university prepare its students for life after graduation? How well are students positioned for career satisfaction and success?

US university rankings: what to consider

1. Career services and work experience

Pace University in New York has an incredible location next to Wall Street, giving it close connections to important businesses and organizations: more than 600 employers hired Pace international students in 2018–19, and over 8,000 internships and similar experiences are completed by Pace students annually!

You’ll also have great work experience opportunities at Pace’s Westchester campus in the suburbs of NYC. The area has the nickname of New York’s “Golden Apple” because of the high number of Fortune 500 companies that operate there, including Mastercard, IBM and more. It also has fast-growing tech and biotech industries.

Learn more about career services at Pace University

Meanwhile, Arizona State University’s online career hub, Handshake, is a fantastic resource for students looking to gain real work experience during their degree.

Thanks to ASU’s impressive employer-student connections, you can use this platform to search 40,000+ internships and jobs with companies like UPS, AXA and Cognizant, to name just a few. This kind of work experience can produce real results, by connecting you with future employers and making you a more desirable candidate.

One of the attractions of US universities is Optional Practical Training (OPT) after graduation. There are over 3,000 ASU international alumni currently pursuing OPT in their field of study in the USA.

At Simmons University in Boston, 100% of students complete an internship or similar practical experience during their degree, and with the University’s connections to more than 450 Boston-area hospitals and clinics, there are many exciting opportunities for healthcare students in particular.

2. Future-led research

It’s important to look at how a university approaches innovation and future-led research because it can have an impact on how well prepared you become for the jobs of tomorrow. It could even help spark an entrepreneurial passion and give you the knowledge to create your own company. For example, ASU is consistently ranked #1 for innovation in the USA and is top 10 in the global patent rankings.

Another factor to consider is how sustainable a university is: does its long-term ambitions reflect the kind of world you want to live in? ASU is #5 in the world for UN sustainability goals (Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings 2020), which clearly demonstrates the University’s forward-thinking mindset and the commitment it’s making to the future of our planet.

3. Employability

Employability is a hugely significant part of choosing a university — will the education you receive be recognised by employers? Does the University have good connections with businesses and organizations? And at what rate are previous graduates employed?

Arizona State University is #3 in the world for employer-student connections according to QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2020, and has been ranked as a top 10 university in the U.S. for hires by Silicon Valley employers. On top of this, over 50 companies (including Apple, Ford and KPMG) call ASU a top university for recruiting graduates.

Cindy Parnell, executive director of ASU Career Services, anticipates an increase in student recruitment by top US and global companies in the coming year:

“ASU’s national and international rankings, graduation rates and research enterprise have been rising for more than a decade… the companies and organizations shaping the future economy have noticed our success and the success of our students.”

Similarly, Pace University in New York has been ranked #51–100 for employability according to QS USA University rankings 2020.

4. Salary potential

Linked to employability is salary potential: you want to ensure that you’ll be able to find a job, and then you’ll need to know that you can support yourself with a well-paid career after you graduate.

According to Payscale’s report about future salaries, Pace University performs particularly well in this respect. Pace University is placed in the top 10% for bachelor’s degree graduates (and in the top 8% if that degree is in Business)!

5. Value for money

Higher education is a big investment of time, money and effort, one that you’ll hope will be worth its cost, so it’s a good idea to look at value for money when researching US university rankings.

Simmons University in Boston has been ranked #31 ‘Best Value’ University in the USA (U.S. News & World Report 2021).

This is calculated using the school’s academic quality as indicated by its 2021 U.S. News Best Colleges ranking, and the 2019-2020 net cost of attendance for a student who received the average level of need-based financial aid. So, if a program is highly ranked and has a lower cost, then you’re getting great value for money!

Finally, ranks Simmons University #129 out of 744 institutions for schools that successfully combine quality and affordability. It’s also the #1 best value school located in the city of Boston proper!

Find the best US university for you

So, there are lots of things to consider when looking at US university rankings! This list should make it easier for you to prioritize what’s most important to you, so that you can find the best fit university. If you want more information, then you can see more of our US partner university rankings at the links below.

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