Harvard topped the list of the best colleges in the U.S. for the sixth year in a row, but it will now share the title with Princeton, according to the U.S. News & World Report’s 2012 ranking.
Though Harvard has occupied the top spot since 2007, admissions experts said Harvard’s reputation does not hinge on its position in the list.
“The name alone conjures up images of being the best, and that alone would carry,” said Michael Goran, director and educational consultant at the college counseling firm IvySelect. “If it dropped to number 10, you would assume that there really would be some differences, but I think the name alone still has the connotation of being the best, the top.”
Last year, Harvard announced its lowest undergraduate admission rate in history, admitting 6.2 percent of the 34,950 applicants.
Goran said people always think of Harvard as part of the “collective grouping at the top,” regardless of its position in a given year.
Harvard has consistently received the greatest number of applications in the Ivy League, even in years when its ranking has dropped.
According to admissions experts, the return of early admissions this year—not Harvard’s standing in the rankings—will have the greatest impact on the number of students who apply.
Early admissions will also return at Princeton.
Princeton last shared the top slot with Harvard in 2010 and finished at number two in 2009 and 2011.
However, counselors said finding the right fit should be the focus of college-bound high school seniors, not rankings.
“Different types of students go to different types of schools and you want to go school with people you’re going to be happy with,” said Amy Sack, president of Admissions: Accomplished, an admissions consulting firm.
—Staff writer Gautam S. Kumar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Staff writer Justin C. Worland can be reached at email@example.com.