Category Archives: College Rankings

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Colleges’ ‘Love-Hate Relationship’ With Rankings Pervades ACE Report

Except for those who’ve been vacationing on Neptune since last summer, most everyone’s heard about the Obama administration’s proposed college-ratings system, and the American Council on Education’s dislike of it.

Whatever your view, it’s worth reading this new report from the ACE, which offers various objections to the plan. One concern: The line between rating colleges and ranking them is, the report says, “a blurry one.” (Translation: “We don’t want this ratings system to turn into yet anothe…

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How Much Do College Rankings Matter to Students?

Prospective college students don’t care about college rankings nearly as much as their anxious mothers and fathers do, right? Maybe not.

According to the results of a survey released on Tuesday, 34 percent of college-bound students strongly disagreed, and 32 percent somewhat disagreed, with the statement that rankings “don’t matter to me, but they matter to my parents.” Meanwhile, just 6 percent strongly agreed, and 20 percent somewhat agreed, that rankings “don’t matter.”

The studentPoll survey…

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Why Counting Applications Is an Iffy Exercise

Washington and Lee University’s president has called for a review of how the institution reports admissions data, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

Over the weekend, the Post published an article describing how the university, in Lexington, Va., had included more than 1,100 incomplete applications in its “official count” of 5,972 applicants for last fall’s freshman class. As a result, the reported admission rate was 19 percent. The actual admission rate, based on completed applications, w…

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DIY College Rankings

For better or worse, the college-rankings field is ever fertile.

The latest innovation is College Factual, a new Web site that allows users to create customized rankings of colleges based on criteria they select. Students may weight each of 17 factors (including ethnic diversity, graduates’ starting salaries, and freshman-to-sophomore retention rates) as unimportant, slightly important, important, very important, or critical.

Users then choose the colleges they wish to rank. With the click of a …

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The College-Ranking Wheels Keep on Turning

Sorry, America (or at least almost all of it). Your alma mater didn’t crack the Top 10 this year.

On Tuesday, U.S. News & World Report unveiled its 2014 rankings of the nation’s colleges and universities, this time with a handful of changes in its methodology. First, U.S. News assigned less weight to class rank, which dropped to 25 percent of the “student selectivity” indicator, from 40 percent. The change reflects the decreasing number of high schools that report students’ standing in their sen…

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College Rankings and the Will to Swagger

College officials often use colorful language when discussing U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking of colleges. Over the years, I’ve heard the list described as “corrosive,” “immoral,” and “real evil.” Some of the other terms aren’t printable.

Naturally, those who publish rival rankings also have choice words for the Best Colleges guide. In a news release, Washington Monthly’s editor, Paul Glastris, described his own publication’s college rankings, just published on Monday, as an answer to 

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‘U.S. News’ Removes 2 More Colleges From Its Rankings

U.S. News & World Report has moved York College of Pennsylvania and the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor to its “unranked” category after learning that they had submitted inflated admissions data, according to a blog post on Tuesday by Robert J. Morse, the magazine’s director of data research.

A number of cases of misreported admissions data have surfaced in recent months, including Dominican University of California’s announcement that it had included incomplete applications, making it appear m…

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Ranking Colleges by ‘Desirability’

This weary planet might not need yet another set of college rankings, but new models keep popping up. The latest is a rating of colleges based on their “desirability,” as determined by the choices applicants make.

In a new paper published by The Quarterly Journal of Economics, four researchers propose a method of ranking colleges according to students’ “revealed preferences”—the institutions they choose to attend over others that have accepted them. Using survey data from a national sample of…

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‘More Than Narrow Measures’

In an article today I describe a new paper by Jerome A. Lucido, executive director of the University of Southern California’s Center for Enrollment Research, Policy, and Practice. Colleges, he proposes, should form a “league” in which cooperation tempers the competition among them. He imagines a consortium of colleges functioning more like the National Football League, bound by the same rules and collaborating for the common good even as they strive to “win.”

Mr. Lucido did not pull this idea ou…

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Why ‘U.S. News’ Put George Washington U. in ‘Unranked’ Category

George Washington University’s rank in U.S. News & World Report’s 2013 college guide would have been lower if it had submitted accurate class-rank data, according to the man whose calculations form the annual list of “Best Colleges.”

In a blog post on Friday, Robert J. Morse, director of data research at U.S. News, explained why the publication moved George Washington to the “Unranked” category this week. In cases of misreported data, U.S. News conducts a statistical simulation to determine what…