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Prospective penn students and parents get a tour of the campus. Credit: Alex Remnick

Though Penn’s acceptance rate is as low as ever, a new ranking claims that it is not the only data point that matters.

GradReports has named Penn number 12 out of the “Top 100 Colleges by Student Choice.” The list, created by the SR Education Group on, judges colleges by two criteria: acceptance rate and enrollment rate. These numbers are combined and manipulated to create a single score for each institution.

The list places Penn four spots below its eighth-place national university ranking on U.S. News and World Report.

“We selected our methodology because we realized that acceptance rate is a great indicator for which schools are most selective, but it doesn’t actually represent where students want to attend,” Kim Wetter, a collaborator in the creation of the GradReports rankings, wrote in an email. “So, we factored in enrollment rate.”

The list contains many common frontrunners, with five Ivy League schools, Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology placing in the top 10. Cornell University is the lowest ranked of the Ivies, coming in at 19. The list also contains four military academies within the top 16, as well as several liberal arts colleges farther down the list.

Above the recently released rankings, the website reads, “We hope to challenge the common perception that prestige alone makes a college desirable and to bring attention to the wider range of schools that reflect actual student choice.”

“I think this broader list will give students a better idea of which colleges are truly competitive but desirable,” Wetter said.

In addition to the rankings, most colleges on the list come with one or more reviews submitted to the website by alumni of the given college. Reviews give scores on elements such as financial aid and “quality of instruction,” while also answering questions such as, “Did this degree help your career?”

While the current rankings have only a few data points for each college listed, the website has bigger goals for future editions.

“We hope to have completely graduate-review-driven rankings in the future,” Wetter said. “Until we get to that point, we think this was the best way to represent student’s opinions.”

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