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How California Universities Fared in Revamped Rankings

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How California Universities Fared in Revamped Rankings

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How did my school fare?

That’s what many people were curious about yesterday when U.S. News and World Report released its annual rankings of universities, compiled using a newly overhauled methodology.

While the top schools stayed the same — Princeton, followed by M.I.T., with Harvard and Stanford tied for third — the new formula boosted many public universities, while several private institutions tumbled in the rankings.

U.C.L.A. and my alma mater, U.C. Berkeley, each jumped from 20th to tie for 15th place overall, and were once again ranked as the best public universities in the country. U.C. Davis rose from 38th to 28th place, where it is now on par with U.C. San Diego and the University of Southern California.

As for private schools in the Golden State, Pepperdine University dropped by 21 spots to No. 76; Chapman University slipped by 12 and the University of San Francisco by 10.

You can see the complete national university rankings here.

U.S. News’s adjusted methodology, a response to years of criticism, places increased emphasis on what the company labels “social mobility,” measured through graduation rates for low-income students as well as for first-generation college students, my colleague Alan Blinder reports. As part of this new focus, the organization also discarded five factors that had often favored wealthy colleges, including undergraduate class sizes, alumni giving rates and high school class standing.

That meant that many of the schools that rose the most in the rankings were large public universities in the middle of the pack. And, indeed, under the new rankings, Cal State Fresno jumped 64 slots to No. 185. San Francisco State’s rank improved by 55, and Cal State Long Beach and Cal State Fullerton each by 32.

Hazel Kelly, a spokesperson for the California State University system, said that the 23 universities in the system charged some of the country’s lowest tuition and fees and that nearly one-third of their undergraduates were the first people in their family to attend college. Half are from underrepresented communities, and half receive Pell grants.

“As the largest and most diverse system of four-year higher education in the country, the California State University is a national leader of social and economic mobility,” Kelly said in an email. “We are grateful that more college rankings are now recognizing these student outcomes.”

For the fourth year in a row, all nine U.C. undergraduate campuses made the top 100. U.C. Merced, which opened in 2005 and is the system’s newest campus, moved up from 97th to 60th place, surpassing U.C. Santa Cruz and U.C. Riverside.

“We always say: We don’t do what we do to pursue rankings,” U.C. Merced’s chancellor, Juan Sánchez Muñoz, said in a statement. “We pursue our mission of advancing students’ social and economic mobility, and the nation notices.”

These are the rankings of California schools that made the top 100 this year, along with their previous rankings:

  • Stanford University: 3 (last year: 3)

  • California Institute of Technology: 7 (9)

  • U.C. Berkeley: 15 (20)

  • U.C.L.A.: 15 (20)

  • U.C. Davis: 28 (38)

  • U.C. San Diego: 28 (34)

  • University of Southern California: 28 (25)

  • U.C. Irvine: 33 (34)

  • U.C. Santa Barbara: 35 (32)

  • Santa Clara University: 60 (55)

  • U.C. Merced: 60 (97)

  • Pepperdine University: 76 (55)

  • U.C. Riverside: 76 (89)

  • U.C. Santa Cruz: 82 (83)

  • Loyola Marymount University: 93 (77)

  • University of San Diego: 98 (97)


Today’s tip comes from Elizabeth Johnson, who lives in Santa Cruz. Johnson recommends spending a day in her town:

“A typical day may consist of outrigger paddling in the Monterey Bay, lattes and bagels in front of the Crow’s Nest at the harbor mouth while listening to the ukuleles and watching beach volleyball, walking the dog in the afternoon up in the Santa Cruz Mountains, through the redwoods, only minutes from home, a lazy drive up Highway 1 to the small town of Davenport to enjoy live music and a taco while gazing out over the bay then returning back to downtown Santa Cruz and Abbott Square, enjoying live poetry, music and a local brew or glass of wine. I am only a few hours away from the Eastern Sierras, an hour from San Francisco and the Pinnacles. I am so grateful.”

Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to CAtoday@nytimes.com. We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.

George Carl Gaetano Carollo and Sachi Alita Takahashi-Rial have lived in the Bay Area for many years, and it shows.

Carollo, who works at a tech start-up, and Takahashi-Rial, who works at a nonprofit, grew up in the same neighborhood of Sacramento and got their start in group projects and study sessions in high school, even sharing their first kiss after studying for a biology exam together. After college at Stanford and Berkeley, the two eventually moved in together with a large group of friends in San Francisco, where they hosted dinner parties and sent out “End of Year” memos, spoofing corporate Christmas letters.

In May 2022, after 17 years of dating and a brief detour in New York, the pair thought that they might get married. True to form, they began mapping out a future together on a Google spreadsheet, labeled “Life Planning,” with a timeline on another tab.

The rest is told in their online wedding invitations, for a three-day event at a ranch in Vacaville this November: “You’re invited to the first Investor Offsite for pre-eminent investors worldwide. This exclusive event combines insights, innovation, vision, and, of course, cake,” the invitation said.

“We’re excited to have a good party with the people who invested in us,” Takahashi-Rial said.


Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Soumya

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword.

Maia Coleman and Briana Scalia contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at CAtoday@nytimes.com.

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