Forget the Ivy League and Stanford — the smartest college in America is not what you might think.
Washington University in St. Louis came out on top of Lumosity’s annual ranking of the “smartest colleges in America.” Last year’s winner, MIT, came in second, followed by Princeton University, Northwestern, and Carnegie Mellon. Harvard and Yale came in eight and ninth, respectively, and Stanford settled down in 12th place.
This is a pretty significant fall for Harvard and Stanford, which ranked second and third in last year’s report. It is also a significant rise for Washington University and Carnegie Mellon, which finished sixth and 17th in 2012.
The University of Chicago, Rice University, and Dartmouth were also in the top 10 this year.
Lumosity creates brain-training exercises and since 2007 has amassed the world’s largest and continuously growing dataset of human cognitive performance, made up of 1.2 billion data points from its 50 million users. This particular study examined game play data from 72,388 college students who played Lumosity games that challenge five cognitive areas: memory, processing speed, flexibility, attention, and problem solving.
“College rankings typically rely on standardized test scores and GPA — what’s unique about our college rankings is that we are able to measure a sample of a student population’s core cognitive abilities, which are important underlying factors that allow you to function in your everyday life,” said Lumosity data scientist Daniel Sternberg, PhD.
Lumosity had 30 million users at this time last year. The company said the growth of its user base means this year’s analysis is more accurate, because it was able to narrow eligibility requirements while maintaining a large sample. In order to be included in the analysis, a user must have played at least one game in each cognitive area and be between ages 17 and 24. The users were mapped to universities based on either the IP address associated with their most recent login or based on the domain of the reported email address.
“Game scores were normalized using an inverse rank normalization for each game,” Lumosity said. “We controlled for the effects of gender, linear and quadratic effects of age, and the interactions of gender and both age variables by fitting linear regression models predicting the normalized score for each game.”
All the institutions were ranked based on their median Grand Index score. Washington University earned 115.34; followed by MIT with 114.50, Princeton with 114.11, Northwestern with 112.36, and Carnegie Mellon with 111.99. Check out the full list below and a link to the complete report.