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Northwestern and USNews trade insults online over college rankings

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Replies to: Northwestern and USNews trade insults online over college rankings

  • fivesagesfivesages Registered User Posts: 62 Junior Member
    @PurpleTitan Anybody can point out the flaws in any system. But for a college president to spend his/her time on one of the many college rankings, done by a private institution, is not the best way to go about it.
  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan Registered User Posts: 9,999 Senior Member
  • fivesagesfivesages Registered User Posts: 62 Junior Member
    @PurpleTitan Because no ranking system is perfect and there are better things to worry about for a college president. For example, Northwestern's mission statement doesn't say anything about US News ranking. BTW, I am not saying US News ranking is perfect...it is probably far from perfect. But there are many other ways to address/improve it (e.g. engaging with US News and/or other colleges).
  • TomSrOfBostonTomSrOfBoston Registered User Posts: 10,830 Senior Member
    Until about 7 years ago Boston University was the only National University that did not cooperate with USNews. They languished in the mid 50's. They stated that rankings were useless at best, detrimental at worst. A new BU administration changed all that and now BU prominently trumpets is improved rankings in USNews and any other ranking they can find. They play the game by offering January admission for fall applicants, guaranteed sophomore transfer etc.
  • StanfordGSB00StanfordGSB00 Registered User Posts: 15 New Member
    @fivesages - your logic is flawed. First, parchment rankings are completely absurd / flawed. For instance, do you believe that WUSTL wins 40% of cross-admits with Harvard and splits about 50/50 with UPenn? And Parchment claims that WUSTL wins against Dartmouth 57% of time. WUSTL's yield is around 37% - I think this example on its own is enough to discredit Parchment. Second, US News rankings heavily influence cross-admit decisions among highly impressionable high school students. When I was applying to college in the late 1990s, UChicago had an acceptance rate close to 50% and a yield rate that was sub 40%. When Chicago's US News ranking was in the 10-15 range, it was regularly losing cross admits to Northwestern, Duke and Cornell (I got into all 4 schools at the time by the way and chose Columbia). So, to summarize, the rankings serve as a self-fulfilling prophecy and heavily influence high school students. If Cornell, for instance, jumped into the top 10 this year and stayed there for the next 4-5 years, my guess is that its yield would skyrocket and it would start winning more cross-admits.
  • pupflierpupflier Registered User Posts: 74 Junior Member
    edited September 1
    then what school (if any) is permitted to be critical
    In my mind, only three schools have the brand permission to criticize the USnews ranking: Harvard, Stanford, MIT, because no matter what USnews says, these schools are the top three schools in terms of prestige in everybody's mind. Their standing in the ranking is of no consequence to them. If Harvard fell to 15 in any ranking, it is the ranking that would be suspect, not Harvard. If Stanford came out at #12 in any ranking, it would immediately call into question the credibility of the ranking. That is how strong the brand reputation of these schools is at the current time. Every other school that criticizes USnews or any other ranking for that matter, looks like it is simply whining.

    With USnews it is specially hard for the other universities to criticize without sounding like whiners, because their ranking maps quite closely to the "biases and prejudices that the lay person already has about different schools", so their ranking "seems" more legitimate, compared to a Washington Monthly ranking.
  • pupflierpupflier Registered User Posts: 74 Junior Member
    One other possibility for NW's displeasure, may be that they stayed the same but one of the schools that Schapiro really dislikes got a good boost in the ranking. Knowing his politics, I can guess which schools these might be. He probably believes that compared to "that/those school/s", NW is much better or at least as good, and since the USNews ranking doesn't reflect that, it clearly is not up to snuff.

    Good conspiracy theory :-)
  • osuprofosuprof Registered User Posts: 329 Member
    @pupflier

    It would have make sense had the article just been written at that time (it is possible USNWR releases rankings to University administration a bit ahead of releasing it to general public, though 2 weeks ahead seems quite a lot). But the article is taken from the book that was released a couple of months back (and certainly, the book would have taken a while to write). Moreover, the book is based on class notes of a class the two authors have taught together.
  • saillakeeriesaillakeerie Registered User Posts: 1,495 Senior Member
    The idea that 4-5 places represents anything significant in terms of a difference is silly (in terms of reality not in the CC world). And the idea that only Harvard, Stanford or MIT can be critical of the USNews process without sounding like whiners is even sillier (again reality rather than this place).
  • IWannaHelpIWannaHelp Registered User Posts: 217 Junior Member
    edited September 1
    @fivesages
    I am sure NU president knows how to prioritize his time better than most people; he doesn't need you to tell him. Your ad hominem attack seems so unnecessary. Besides, the article is reflecting his own opinion, not necessarily Northwestern's.

    @pupflier
    It's often a poor practice to speculate or focus on people's motive on a discussion board.
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