USC stands in the top tier of American universities, ranking No. 15 in the nation, according to a new Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education survey. Among California universities, only USC, Stanford University and Caltech crack the top 25 in the survey of more than 1,000 U.S. colleges and universities. USC was third in the Western U.S., and the result is USC’s highest ever in any overall national ranking. The survey grades universities on a comprehensive list of factors emphasizing the student experience. These include providing students with tools for success and making sure students feel challenged and engaged. The rankings also assess enrollment of a diverse and international student body, and how well alumni can pay off their loans and find satisfying, high-paying jobs. Data were collected from a variety of public sources, as well as a survey of 100,000 U.S. college students conducted by Times Higher Education in London. Here’s why USC rises to the top.