USC drops in national rankings

The university saw no improvement in 2022 college rankings from three outlets.

College rankings have been released with USC coming in at 27th, according to U.S. News, three spots lower than last year. As college application season reaches its height, the question remains as to whether the rankings will impact prospective students’ decisions.

U.S. News’ 2022 best colleges list, which Forbes dubbed “the grandaddy of all the lists,’’ ranked USC the lowest of any prominent rankings list this year. Several other news outlets released their 2022 college rankings this month, with USC seeing either a drop or no change in rankings for each of them.

Niche placed USC at the 16th spot on the list; USC earned the same place in 2021. USC was ranked 19th by the Wall Street Journal, falling slightly behind an 18th place spot in 2021.

However, not all current USC students believe that the rankings hold any value.

“For me, it’s less about where a college ranks and more about how the college makes me feel,” graduate student Lilit Zakaryan said. “I’ve been here for a couple of years and I don’t think there’s been any sort of decrease as far as education or the way USC is. If anything, I’ve seen a lot of really positive changes in the last couple of years.”

A drop in rankings does not necessarily indicate a worsening educational level. Each source weighs varying factors on a different scale, from school reputation to average student debt to graduation rates.

USC Professor Melanie Cherry said that even with a slim margin between this year and last year’s rankings, being ranked within the top 50 serves as a “fantastic marketing tool” for the university.

“Most people don’t take the extra step and say ‘What were they ranked last year, what were they ranked the year before?’ It’s still very close to where we were previously,” Cherry said. “I don’t think it’s going to have a huge, huge effect.”

Another factor that allowed some students to ignore the decrease in overall ranking is the high rankings of specific schools at USC. Niche ranked 10 USC programs in the top five of U.S. schools for their respective disciplines in 2022, including the School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) and Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

SCA was freshman Ian Jackson’s dream school, according to an All American High School Film Festival YouTube caption.

“I was mainly focused on the film school, and that’s still at number one, and that was my main choice,” said the cinematic arts, film and television production major.

USC received 70,000 applicants for the 2021-2022 school year and admitted 12% of those applicants.

“We know it’s very competitive to get to USC,” Cherry said. “Even if that factor changed by one percent because of this, I don’t think it’s going to really change the outcome of the quality of students and the quality of work that we’re doing at USC.”