A new national college ranking places UC Berkeley as 23rd out of 50 top schools for 2011-2012.
The criteria of the "Top 50 Colleges and Universities" ranking, by a San Antonio, Texas-based organization called "The Best Colleges," emphasizes the economic value of a school — its tuition cost vs. the median graduate salary — and the quality of living offered in its area, judged by cost of living and population demographics from City-Data.com.
Economic value and quality of living are 35 percent and 30 percent of each college's score respectively. Academic quality (20 percent) and student satisfaction (15 percent) make up the rest of the criteria. Individual college scores were not released.
The ranking put Princeton University in the top spot, Harvard at number two, and Swarthmore College in third. Rounding out the top five were the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and The College of William and Mary. Cal's rival Stanford came in at number eight.
With students in the University of California system facing next semester, a UC education is not as much of a bargain as it used to be. The only other UC schools in The Best Colleges's ranking are UC Davis at 27 and UCLA at number 41.
UC Berkeley has often been ranked the top public university in the nation in U.S. News rankings. Not so in The Best Colleges's ranking: it puts the University of North Carolina, the University of Virginia and the University of Michigan ahead of Cal.
In describing its ranking, The Best Colleges states that it set out "to create a college ranking that does a better job of measuring the things that prospective students and their parents actually care about than other major ranking systems like U.S. News & World Report."
U.S. News will come out with its 2011 college rankings next month, according to its website.
Correction: An earlier version of this article missed UC Davis at 27 on the list. The article has been updated to reflect this.