U.S. News & World Report's 2024 college rankings features many of the usual prestigious institutions at the top of the list, but also vaults some schools much higher after the publisher revised its grading system to reward different criteria. From a report: U.S News' ranking algorithm now based more than 50% of an institution's score on what it describes as "success in enrolling and graduating students from all backgrounds with manageable debt and post-graduate success." The system also places greater emphasis on "social mobility," which generally refers to an individual making gains in education, income and other markers of socioeconomic status. Overall, more than a dozen public universities shot up 50 spots on the annual list of the U.S.' best colleges, while several elite private schools largely held their ground, the new report shows. "The significant changes in this year's methodology are part of the ongoing evolution to make sure our rankings capture what is most important for students as they compare colleges and select the school that is right for them," U.S. News CEO Eric Gertler said in a statement. The change comes after a chorus of critics complained that the publication's rankings reinforce elitism and do little to help students find schools that suit their academic needs and financial circumstances. A growing number of schools, including elite institutions such as Columbia University and the Harvard and Yale law schools, also have stopped participating in the ranking and publicly criticized U.S. News' methodology.

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