News editor made this promise during an press interview: News college rankings. As one example, they reward colleges in the rankings for having enormous endowments, especially on the National Universities list, even though these endowments are primarily used for graduate level research by both grad students and professors, and the money barely trickles down to the undergraduate programs.
These universities have a large percentage of undergraduate courses that are taught by graduate Teaching Assistants, so the quality of the day-to-day learning experience of undergraduates at these schools is actually lower — yet the rankings suggest otherwise. So many of these statistics are gamed, as you say; such as universities listing a student-teacher ratio that is a joke, because many of the teachers are counted as teaching even though they teach no undergraduate sections or only one and spend most of their time on research and publishing.
Overall, guides such as the Fiske guide and your website are much better to use for learning about colleges, because they actually tell you something about the substance of the college, the atmosphere, how much teaching is emphasized, and how much undergraduates are actually valued and focused on there. So this one person had all this power over determining what makes a college good for other people.
If you give it any thought at all, you can quickly come to the conclusion that their methodology is faulty at best and downright damaging at worst. I sat with a group of parents at a luncheon the other day whose kids were just graduating from college this spring. Everyone in the DC area pines to get into UVA, which is highly selective and prestigious, despite the fact that small discussion classes led by professors are relatively rare there.
I have seen it playing out this way dozens of times this spring and over the last few years in my elite-obsessed community. As a Princeton grad, I have no problem with the U. News survey at all — I enjoy watching my Yalie friends cringe; except to state the obvious: Choose your college based on what really matters: Good luck. Thanks for this very informative post.
- 15 Things to Know About U.S. News' College Rankings » The College Solution!
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First and foremost, thank you! I started assisting our daughter with her search over a year ago by listening to one of your webcasts — she enrolled at Drexel University two weeks ago! Are you familiar with the methodology for this ranking and is it as flawed as the college rankings? I have as dim a view about U. Thank you for writing this, Lynn!
And so are my kids! We can actually enjoy our lives rather than enslaving ourselves to this soul-sucking college admissions process! I wish more parents — and students — would stop torturing themselves regarding all aspects of what to many is that soul-sucking admission process. One way to be free is to let go of the need that too many affluent parents have and that is to get their kids into schools with high USNWR rankings!
My daughter will be a rising senior at Beloit after finals next week. This post is spot on.ROI of Software Process Improvement: Metrics for Project Managers and Software Engineers">ROI of Software Process Improvement: Metrics for Project Managers and Software Engineers
Forget The U.S. News Rankings, Here's Where You Get The Most Bang For Your College Buck
Lake Forest College. It makes me chuckle that my two California kids will attend college 90 miles from each other. Also getting to Beloit from San Diego was easy. I felt his travel was much safer than driving than kids driving back and forth to college. I meant look for schools in these categories that would be worthwhile researching.
Very few people have heard of the schools in these categories and yet there are many gems to be discovered! Among many, perhaps hundreds, of helpful, informative posts, this one is my favorite! There is no regard for fit, for affordability, for learning style, for milieu and for many salient factors inherent in the college quest. I totally agree that college rankings has been the most poisonous pill in the higher-ed world!! I understand the desire for a way to measure, evaluate, and compare colleges… but sadly the most popular resource is, as you describe, one of the least valid and most harmful.
I think your observation about the importance that international students bestow on these rankings is correct, as well as unfortunate. While the name might trick foreigners, I think the fact that US News rolled out the first rankings is what led to its success. This must not be forgotten. Their is much manipulation that occurs to dress this metric up.
Visiting campus and classes is key to seeing past this. This means getting the highest price out of those who have it to spend. This means the more wealthy, full-paying customers, the better. Whatever the government is will to give away, colleges WILL find a way to get it, without increasing their own costs of teaching.
Additionally, as you describe, marketing to enough lower income students who will allow them to a still get the highest scoring students and b create a sense of diversity for the campus. Your point about what is NOT measured well, i.
You can figure out the cost if you work at it. The hardest thing to gauge is the effect of the teaching itself, which is the core value purchased. Thank you! It is sad that they get as much attention as they do and what lengths schools will go to improve their ranking. She was also admitted to UVa and Williams and waitlisted at Harvard, Cornell and a handful of others. Honestly, attending Princeton is cheaper than her staying home.
Next, I think the demographics at the Ivies are far different than what they used to be. Have you seen this recent 60 minutes episode? Part of the reason my daughter chose Princeton although her Yale package was similarly priced was the diversity not just of the student body, but the socio-economic status of the students as well.
#20: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)
See here for the demographics of the Class of My daughter is finding exactly the same experience you describe at Amherst College. Coming from a lower income family and a very small town she was unsure what she would experience, but now as a senior there, I can say it has been great for her. Here is an excellent article from The New York Times that illustrates this reality: Princeton diverse? Come now.
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Now lets take a look at where US News has Princeton ranked. Gary, that clearly has nothing to do with the point being made. Do your research before posting. Princeton is VERY diverse both in ethnicity and socioeconomic status: Hi Lynn, this is a great list and really important information to keep in mind when looking at colleges.
Do you have any data on job outcomes for students at highly ranked schools vs. Elite schools can charge obscene amounts of money and charge full price for many of their students because of the belief that these institutions give out gold tickets by the truck loads. Elite schools primarily educate wealthy students which explains much of it success. Children raised in high-income families are more than likely to also end up living comfortable financial lives.
These kids are going to do well whether they attend an elite private school, a state school or spend four years after high school in a closet. Ivies and other extremely sought-after schools are getting undeserved credit for their alums success. Studies have showed that the students who get a boost in salary at these elite schools are first-gen and minorities. Families are spending hundreds of dollars more than they need to because rankings darlings stoke the myth that they are indispensible for a life of success.
I work in a selective workplace that has a mix of Ivy League, big state university, regional university, and small liberal arts grads working for it. We have people from historically black colleges, public commuter colleges, Ivies, and everything in between. In my conversations with the Ivy League grads whom I love to note all ended up at the same employer as folks who did not attend a famous university. We require a rigorous, in person writing sample, several interviews, a cognitive test, and an overall entrance exam that tests knowledge of world affairs, civics, and history as part of the selection process.
My Ivy League colleagues claim what you are saying is true, Lynn; that the wealthy students who come into Ivy League schools which is the vast majority of the students arrive already well connected, and once there, proceed to interact mostly with other well connected students. These schools have historically enabled the well-heeled to used them as ways to expand their already stellar network, which are key to landing jobs such as those in Wall Street firms. They are not attuned to letting outsiders in. Only a few savvy ones ever figure it out or are lucky enough to have one of its members take them under their wing.
My Ivy League colleagues, with a few exceptions, are from the middle class or lower classes and attended these schools on scholarship. They were not part of the exclusive clubs, and they had to find their internships the same way state university students do. This is why they look successful compared to students from less famous schools — not because their education is any better.
Most of that category of students must hit the pavement, scour the want ads, and use the career services office just like students at any ordinary university.
15 Things to Know About U.S. News’ College Rankings
In a nutshell, my colleagues say that the connection factor at Ivy League schools is overrated for all but the very poorest students and underrepresented minorities can get a boost and that these students would have landed the same jobs and acquired the same wealth if they had gone to their local commuter school. This was very eye-opening to me, indeed. Mary Beth, thank you for your spot on comment.
The wealthy children are already well connected and, while polite and somewhat inclusive, she feels very much an outsider. We would not be categorized as minority in the traditional sense, however we are socio-economically so far below the other parents there, that we consider ourselves an economic minority. I often wonder if it is the correct school for her.
While she is receiving a wonderful education and making some nice friends, she is not as vivacious at school as she is outside of school.
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- #19: Columbia University;
I recommend her […]. I personally like the search engine at College Confidential because it is very tweakable. I find it more useful than College Board's search function. I agree rankings don't tell you anything about the individual departments and majors and how good the faculty is at educating the students versus doing research. Maybe some day. They can be used as a gut feel prestige factor so when the student graduates how that college would be perceived in general by employers or grad schools.
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Posted January 28, Share this post Link to post Share on other sites. Posted January 29, And the rankings don't tell you about specific departments. Posted February 1, Borrow a rankings book from your library and make a few notes. We respect your privacy. Coupon cannot be combined with any other offer.
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