Category Archives: College Rankings


What Keeps Women Out of Elite Colleges? Their SAT Scores

We’ve all heard about the gender gap in higher education: Nationally, women enroll in college and complete degrees at higher rates than men do. But new research reveals that for decades women have been underrepresented at the nation’s most-selective institutions. And the apparent culprits are standardized tests.

Admissions offices’ reliance on SAT scores has created “de facto institutional preferences for men” at the nation’s most-competitive colleges, according to the results of a longitudinal …


‘Money’ Reaches for Objectivity in College Rankings

Money magazine unveiled a new set of college rankings on Monday morning, touting its list as a tool for identifying institutions that deliver “great value.”

In a world full of frivolous rankings (colleges with the best weather!), Money set out to compile a highly objective one. The result is relatively heavy on outcomes data and light on subjective prestigery like the reputation surveys used by U.S. News & World Report. To develop the rankings, Money joined with Mark S. Schneider, a vice presid…


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…


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…


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…


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 …


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…


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 


‘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…


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…