The 2019 College Rankings Are Here. See Where Your Favorite School Landed

iStock
iStock

Each year, prospective college students pore over the U.S. News & World Report's rankings of best colleges, trying to figure out which universities to apply to and just what their chances of getting a coveted acceptance letter might be.

The results of the 2019 report are now in. Below are the top 10 national universities in the U.S., according to U.S. News & World Report. It’s not all Ivy League, but they are all private schools. Most also made the top 10 list of the hardest schools to get into last year.

1. Princeton University
2. Harvard University
3. Columbia University (tie)
3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (tie)
3. University of Chicago (tie)
3. Yale University (tie)
7. Stanford University
8. Duke University
9. University of Pennsylvania
10. Johns Hopkins University (tie)
10. Northwestern University (tie)

Princeton came in at the top spot for the eighth year in a row. Compared to 2018's list, Columbia University and MIT moved up the list, from being tied for No. 5 to tying the University of Chicago and Yale for No. 3. Stanford was bumped down to No. 7. Duke moved one up the list to No. 8, bumping Penn from No. 8. to No. 9., while Johns Hopkins and Northwestern edged out Cal Tech to tie for 10th place.

These rankings are based on a battery of factors analyzed by U.S. News & World Report including graduation rates, student retention, class sizes and student-to-faculty ratios, financial aid, SAT scores and high school class standing of accepted students, reputation among academic peers and college counselors, and the number of alumni who donate to the school after they graduate.

A top spot on the list is a huge win for a university, but that doesn’t mean the rankings are the best way to choose a college. There’s plenty of information about a university that you can’t glean from simple graduation rates or alumni donation rates.

Nor are the results without their controversy. Some critics argue that the rankings incentivize schools with wealthier student bodies—aside from the fact that schools can use the money from high tuition to keep class sizes low and take other measures to keep their spot in the rankings, affluent students are less likely to drop out before graduation than students who are having trouble making ends meet. Wealthier students are more likely to have money to donate after they graduate, too (especially if they’re a legacy).

The annual report is such a powerhouse in the academic world that universities sometimes allocate funding and set goals based on making the top of the list, including accepting fewer students who placed in the lower tiers of their high school classes and increasing tuition to pay higher faculty salaries. Moving up the rankings is important enough that it often results in raises and bonuses for university presidents.

In part because of those reasons, private schools always dominate the top 10 list for national universities, but the annual report also includes a separate ranking of public schools. Below are the top public universities:

1. University of California—Los Angeles
2. University of California—Berkeley
3. University of Virginia
4. University of Michigan—Ann Arbor
5. University of California—Santa Barbara (tie)
5. University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill (tie)
7. University of California—Irvine
8. Georgia Institute of Technology (tie)
8. University of Florida (tie)
10. College of William and Mary (tie)
10. University of California—Davis (tie)

Explore the full rankings over on the U.S. News & World Report site.

Game of Thrones's The Mountain Needed a Stunt Double for the First Time Ever in Season 8

HBO
HBO

There’s no question that Game of Thrones's final season will be action-packed. But Iceland native Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, who plays Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane in the TV series, recently confirmed just how much more hardcore the upcoming episodes will be.

In a recent interview with Mashable, Björnsson dished on the final season (as much as an actor sworn to secrecy can dish about a show). Though he couldn’t reveal any really juicy details, he did spill a very interesting piece of information about The Mountain. According to the 30-year-old strongman, the final season was "the hardest season I’ve filmed for Game Of Thrones."

Filming got so complicated that, for the first time in his four seasons on the show, Björnsson needed a stunt double to play The Mountain.

“All the seasons prior to this season that we just finished filming, I never had stunt doubles. I always did everything myself," Björnsson said. "But the last season I filmed, the season that hasn’t been shown on television, I had a stunt double there."

Though fans certainly wanted to hear more about the scene (or scenes) that required a stunt double for the actor, Björnsson—much like The Mountain—didn't budge. “I can’t go into detail ... but I had a stunt double there I can tell you that,” he said. "He was big. He was tall, not as muscular."

It couldn’t have been easy for the show's producers to find a match for Björnsson, who is a professional strongman when he's not acting. He stands 6 feet 9 inches tall, and currently holds the title of "World’s Strongest Man."

As Björnsson has never needed a stunt double before, we can’t help but wonder what exactly happens to The Mountain in season 8. We'll be looking forward to finding out when Game of Thrones returns on April 14, 2019.

[h/t: Mashable]

What is a Polar Vortex?

Edward Stojakovic, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Edward Stojakovic, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

If you’ve turned on the news or stepped outside lately, you're familiar with the record-breaking cold that is blanketing a lot of North America. According to The Washington Post, a mass of bone-chilling air over Canada—a polar vortex—split into three parts at the beginning of 2019, and one is making its way to the eastern U.S. Polar vortexes can push frigid air straight from the arctic tundra into more temperate regions. But just what is this weather phenomenon?

How does a polar vortex form?

Polar vortexes are basically arctic hurricanes or cyclones. NASA defines them as “a whirling and persistent large area of low pressure, found typically over both North and South poles.” A winter phenomenon, vortexes develop as the sun sets over the pole and temperatures cool, and occur in the middle and upper troposphere and the stratosphere (roughly, between six and 31 miles above the Earth’s surface).

Where will a polar vortex hit?

In the Northern Hemisphere, the vortexes move in a counterclockwise direction. Typically, they dip down over Canada, but according to NBC News, polar vortexes can move into the contiguous U.S. due to warm weather over Greenland or Alaska—which forces denser cold air south—or other weather patterns.

Polar vortexes aren't rare—in fact, arctic winds do sometimes dip down into the eastern U.S.—but sometimes the sheer size of the area affected is much greater than normal.

How cold is a polar vortex?

So cold that frozen sharks have been known to wash up on Cape Cod beaches. So cold that animal keepers at the Calgary Zoo in Alberta, Canada once decided to bring its group of king penguins indoors for warmth (the species lives on islands north of Antarctica and the birds aren't used to extreme cold.) Even parts of Alabama and other regions in the Deep South have seen single-digit temperatures and wind chills below zero.

But thankfully, this type of arctic freeze doesn't stick around forever: Temperatures will gradually warm up.

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