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?

1. Academic experience

When you go to college, you want to make sure that you’re going to have the best learning experience possible. That’s why it’s a good idea to find out how universities rank for academic experience.

For example, if you choose to study at Arizona State University then you’ll benefit from excellent teaching that will encourage you to achieve your full potential. ASU is ranked #10 in the USA for undergraduate teaching (US News & World Report 2022), making it among the best universities in the country in this regard.

Similarly, Simmons University in Boston is #37 in the USA for Learning Experience, and UConn ranks #51–100 (QS USA University Rankings 2021)!

teacher with student in classroom

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.”

In addition, Pace University in New York and UConn in Connecticut have both been ranked #51–100 for employability according to QS USA University Rankings 2021.

students on their graduation
student talking on phone

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)!

UConn performs well too, placing in the top 15% for bachelor’s degree graduates (PayScale).

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 has been ranked #53 ‘Best Value’ University in the USA (U.S. News & World Report 2022).

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, money.com 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!

UConn is another excellent choice when it comes to value for money. It is ranked the #104 Best Value Colleges in the US by Forbes and #46 Best Value Colleges in the USA by Money Magazine.

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.