US News and World Report Releases 2014 Best College Rankings

  Recently, the US News and World Report published its “version” of  the 2014 best colleges in the nation in its annual report. To get a better understanding of the methodology behind the rankings, I examined information on their website and came up with the following interesting facts:

  • The methodology is based on a quantitative formula
  • The formula is based on key indicators that “education experts have proposed as reliable indicators of academic quality”
  • First, schools are categorized using the Carnegie classification system
  • Next, data is gathered from each institution on up to 16 key indicators of academic excellence
  • Each factor is assigned a weight that according to the website, “reflects our judgment about how much a measure matters”
  • Finally, colleges and universities are ranked in each category against their peers based on their composite weighted score.

I was curious to know more about the “up to 16 key indicators” used in the formula and so I continued to review the site for a more detailed explanation. Interestingly enough, though I did not find 16 or more, the following key indicators were cited as being included in the “new methodology” used for the rankings:

  • High school class standing
  • Graduation rate performance
  • Undergraduate academic reputation
  • Retention
  • Faculty resources
  • Student selectivity
  • Financial resources
  • Alumni giving rate

I did not find much information provided to explain the “judgment of how much each measure/indicators matter” but I did find that some of the factors including student selectivity, the alumni giving rate, and the undergraduate academic reputation seemed very broad and subjective for a “quantitative” study… At any rate, though I read through the rankings by institutional type, I only included some institutions that were listed as 10 of the best for your view below:

  • Princeton University
  • Harvard University
  • Yale University
  • Columbia University
  • Stanford University
  • The University of Chicago
  • Duke University
  • The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • The University of Pennsylvania
  • The California Institute of Technology

More information can be found on the US News & World Report 2014 College Rankings and Formula at http://www.usnews.com/education and searching for the 2014 best college rankings 

 

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