In the U.S. News & World Report ranking released last month, UConn retained its No. 26 rank, down from 23rd in 2020 and 20th in 2016.

In that report and one from The Wall Street Journal, Yale University was the only Connecticut-based higher education institution to rank higher than UConn. Yale was rated No. 5 in the U.S. News & World Report ranking and No. 3 in the Journal’s report.

Across New England, Connecticut also out-ranked neighboring state flagship universities, including the universities of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts-Amherst and Rhode Island.

Other Connecticut schools, such as Wesleyan, were ranked in different lists that U.S. News & World Report produced. The lists are grouped by schools that share similar characteristics, such as their program offerings and regional location.

“While we know that rankings cannot capture all aspects of UConn’s many strengths, we are pleased that the University continues to be recognized so positively and consistently for its indicators of student success,” said UConn President Radenka Maric.

But how much do these rankings matter? And what’s the difference?

Many say the rankings, no matter how they’re arrived at, are only a part of the story.

“I think a higher rating gives parents a sense of confidence. … When you have things like strong graduation rates, people graduating on time, affordability, a high ranking of graduate salaries — this makes parents feel like ‘OK, my kid’s going to graduate in time, I know what to expect. They’re going to be able to get a job.’ They look at those kinds of things as a return on investment,” said Vicki Boudin, who works as a college admissions consultant at College Docs, which is based in Fairfield.

Read more: UConn ranked as top university in reports. What does it mean?