On the annual U.S. News & World Report compilation of the best national private and public universities, Emory University ranks 21st, while Georgia Tech ranks 34th. Those are the best showing for major universities in the state of Georgia.
The University of Georgia ranks 54th on the 2018 national list. Mercer ranks 133rd. Georgia State University ranks 223rd among the national universities but 8th in best undergraduate teaching. (Best undergraduate teaching is determined by the nomination of college presidents, deans and admissions directors from other schools.)
When U.S. News considers only public universities, Tech earns the 7th spot in the country, while the University of Georgia ranks 16th, jumping two places.
The top honors in the national category, as usual, go to the Ivies with Princeton taking top honors, followed by Harvard. (One complaint about the rankings is they consider how much colleges spend, and Ivies are typically well endowed. Other criticisms cite how colleges game the system. See final comment in this piece with a link to a good critique.)
Among the 149 ranked regional colleges in the South, Georgia College & State University ranks 31st.
Agnes Scott ranks 61st in national liberal arts colleges and second in most innovative liberal arts schools among the 19 cited. Among national universities, Georgia State ranks 4th for most innovative, while Georgia Tech ranks 12th among the 31 campuses cited. As with best undergraduate teaching, U.S. News used peer assessment to award innovation rankings.
There are a few interesting subcategories that might interest parents including one called "A+ Schools for B students," which U.S. News describes as campuses with good ratings that accept good students with "less-than-stellar test scores or a so-so GPAs." Among them are Penn State, Purdue, Syracuse, Rutgers, Virginia Tech, Baylor and Texas Christian.
You can see how U.S. News ranks schools here. While the magazine looks at nearly 2000 colleges, it does not rank every one or share all rankings and explains why here. Kennesaw State University and Georgia Southern fall into the category of "rank not published," which the magazine explains this way: "U.S. News publishes numerical ranks for only the top three-fourths of each ranking category. Schools labeled Rank Not Published are in the bottom 25 percent of their ranking category. "
There is great debate over the U.S. News rankings including the reliance on peer assessments, which have been likened to a popularity contest. Here is an excellent critique of the weaknesses of the rankings.