Georgia schools among top colleges in U.S. News rankings

Three Georgia colleges are among the nation’s top schools, according to the latest rankings by U.S. News and World Report.

Emory, Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia made the list of best national universities in the latest edition of the annual college rankings, released Wednesday.

Those were the only three Georgia schools on the list ranking public and private schools together.

Emory retained its 21st-place ranking, tied with Georgetown University. Georgia Tech ranked 36th and UGA shared a 61st-place ranking with four schools including Clemson and Syracuse universities. All three Georgia schools had freshman retention rates of at least 94 percent and graduation rates last year of at least 82 percent.

This year’s edition includes data on almost 1,800 colleges and rankings of 1,376 schools, scoring them on up to 16 academic measures.

Among the top 30 public universities, Georgia Tech again ranked seventh, and UGA was 21st, tied again with Clemson and Purdue University-West Lafayette.

Georgia schools also ranked high in other categories. Spelman again ranked first among national historically black colleges and universities. Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University each fell one position but remained in the top 20 HBCUs with fourth- and 19th-place rankings, respectively. Mercer was again the eighth-best regional university for the Southern region, and the second-best value school for the same region. Covenant College in Lookout Mountain fell three spots to ninth among best regional colleges, while LaGrange College moved up one position to 12th.

Georgia State University ranked fifth and Georgia Tech tied for 13th among national universities in a new U.S. News ranking this year of most innovative schools. Georgia State’s president Mark Becker was named one of the country’s most innovative college leaders last month by the Washington Monthly magazine. Spelman ranked 10th among national liberal arts colleges in the same category.

The rankings are coveted and highly touted by colleges and have long been used by some parents and students to compare schools before enrolling.

Some in the education industry claim the rankings are losing their mojo.

“The focus on rankings is misguided and out-of-date,” said Ryan Craig, a founding managing director of University Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on higher education. In the time of rising college tuition and student debt, students are more focused on costs, majors offered and whether they will be able to get a job once they graduate, Craig said.

“Universities for years have played games with factors that go into ratings, and that needs to stop,” he said. “Instead they should be more focused on the factors that really matter to students.”