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2018 US News Best Colleges rankings have been released

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Replies to: 2018 US News Best Colleges rankings have been released

  • MastadonMastadon Registered User Posts: 1,275 Senior Member
    For all those Caltech fans who were not following the US News rankings around the turn of the century, Caltech was ranked #1 (by a significant margin) for the one year when Bob Morse was not in charge.

    All it would take for Caltech to return to the top would be the removal of the "logarithmic adjuster" that US News applies to the "per student spending" criteria..
    So, how did Caltech come out on top? Well, one variable in a school's ranking has long been educational expenditures per student, and Caltech has traditionally been tops in this category. But until this year, U.S. News considered only a school's ranking in this category--first, second, etc.--rather than how much it spent relative to other schools. It didn't matter whether Caltech beat Harvard by $1 or by $100,000. Two other schools that rose in their rankings this year were MIT (from fourth to third) and Johns Hopkins (from 14th to seventh). All three have high per-student expenditures and all three are especially strong in the hard sciences. Universities are allowed to count their research budgets in their per-student expenditures, though students get no direct benefit from costly research their professors are doing outside of class.

    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/crapshoot/1999/09/cooking_the_school_books.html
    So, Morse was given back his job as director of data research, and the formula was juiced to put HYP back on top. According to the magazine: "[W]e adjusted each school's research spending according to the ratio of its undergraduates to graduate students ... [and] we applied a logarithmic adjuster to all spending values."

    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/crapshoot/2000/09/cooking_the_school_books_yet_again.html

    In general, the US News rankings are a lot like hot dogs - they tend to taste better if you don't really know what is inside of them...

  • sbballersbballer Registered User Posts: 366 Member
    sometimes conspiracies are proven true ^^^^ lols:)
  • northwestynorthwesty Registered User Posts: 2,609 Senior Member
    edited September 12
    Bottom line, the USNWR rankings are significantly measuring the ability of a school to ENROLL, RETAIN and GRADUATE top undergrad students in large numbers.

    Chicago used to have a rep as a dreary college that focused mostly on grad students located in a lousy unattractive neighborhood -- "the place where fun goes to die." They've done a lot of things to change that reality and then to broadcast their story. They've done a lot more than just taking out ads to jack up their app numbers so they can reject increasing numbers of kids.

    Chicago is pretty similar to where Penn was. In 1990, Penn ranked last in the Ivy League at USNWR #20. The Ivy safety school in a decrepit neighborhood. Sure they managed their numbers somewhat by going all in on ED. But they also did a lot of other actual things to make their school more attractive to undergrads. Like hugely rebuilding their campus and neighborhood. Plus, Penn (like Chicago, Columbia, NYU) benefited greatly from the increased attractiveness of urban lifestyles among millenials.

    End of the day, you're not a top USNWR school if you just get top kids to apply. Top kids have to actually enroll.
  • ChrchillChrchill Registered User Posts: 818 Member
    @ThankYouforHelp Agreed! But we are lucky to have them. Superlative output.
  • northwestynorthwesty Registered User Posts: 2,609 Senior Member
    "So, Morse was given back his job as director of data research, and the formula was juiced to put HYP back on top."

    This actually makes sense. USNWR is basically measuring "Yale-ness." So no surprise that Yale comes out at the top -- in fact, that result tends to validate the formula. If HYPS don't come out near the top, most people would question the method.

    If you don't like a system that measure Yale-ness, there's plenty of other systems you can use instead.
  • IzzoOneIzzoOne Registered User Posts: 194 Junior Member
    Back in the day the area around Penn was terrible. You wouldn't want to walk around there at night or even day. You could say the same for a number of other schools. Fortunes have changed as those areas have come back.

    Back then, I think the Ivies were in three tiers: HYP; Dartmouth and Columbia; and Penn, Cornell, and Brown. Penn and Brown have gone up significantly, and Dartmouth has fallen as the trend toward larger, more urban schools has grown. If I recall correctly, Chicago had about a 50% acceptance rate in the not-too-distant past. How times change.
  • ThankYouforHelpThankYouforHelp Registered User Posts: 1,192 Senior Member
    "If I recall correctly, Chicago had about a 50% acceptance rate in the not-too-distant past. How times change."

    Yep. And so did Columbia and UPenn and Johns Hopkins. Parents were scared to send their kids to cities.
  • CariñoCariño Registered User Posts: 133 Junior Member
    ^ And Yale! Well, parents are still scared to send their kids to New Haven...
  • IzzoOneIzzoOne Registered User Posts: 194 Junior Member
    Mastadon points out how much the focus on per student spending that can include research can, for lack of a better word, distort ratings. These expenditures may have nothing to do with undergraduate education. JHU administers the Advanced Physics Laboratory 24 miles away in Laurel Maryland. It has 6,000 employees and focuses on defense. I'm sure there are some benefits to JHU undergraduates through internships, but the reality is as a government lab it is open to other schools and the web site says 120 institutions were represented by the 350 interns.
  • sbballersbballer Registered User Posts: 366 Member
    lols.. I wouldn't call using the USNWR patented "logarithmic adjuster" as measuring "yaleness".

    it's called gaming the system:) something that gets lobbed at Chicago all the time. smell that? it's irony.
  • northwestynorthwesty Registered User Posts: 2,609 Senior Member
    Late 70s Penn admit rate was 40%. Back when West Philly was yucky and before Penn ramped up marketing and ED.
  • pupflierpupflier Registered User Posts: 74 Junior Member
    edited September 12
    I know a lot of folks talk about Universities gaming the USNews ranking, but this paper seems to indicate that as you get closer to the top, it is quite difficult to get a sustained improvement in the rank, without spending heck of lot of money and effort. This is why the rankings are fairly consistent, year after year

    https://rd.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s11162-014-9336-9.pdf
    When accounting for the number of students and faculty at this university, improving these two subfactors alone would require a sustained increase of over $112,000,000 per year to be allocated. Other required changes, such as decreasing class sizes, increasing graduation rates, or attracting a greater number of highly qualified students (as defined by SAT scores and class standing), would add to the expense of pursuing a ranking change. The totality of these changes and the anticipated expenses are very substantial for any university ranked at this level and point to how challenging it would be for a university in the mid 30's to move up 15 points into the top 20......

    This research shows that meaningful rank changes for top universities are difficult and would occur only after long-range and extraordinarily expensive changes, not through small adjustments.

    You can try to game the metrics, but in the end the benefit is going to be minimal in terms of rank. Also, the article clearly states that rank changes of up to ± 4 points should be considered ‘‘noise’’
  • jzducoljzducol Registered User Posts: 121 Junior Member
    Here are the weightings of categories, "reputation" is still the biggest, it is the most wishy-washy though.

    Undergraduate academic reputation, 22.5 per cent
    Graduation and freshman retention rates, 20 per cent
    Faculty resources, 20 per cent
    Student selectivity, 15 per cent
    Financial resources, 10 per cent
    Graduation rate performance, 7.5 per cent
    Alumni giving, 5 per cent
  • StanfordGSB00StanfordGSB00 Registered User Posts: 15 New Member
    edited September 12
    @jzducol - Agreed. Undergraduate academic reputation, 22.5 % (split between 15% for university presidents and then 7.5% represents the high school guidance counselors). The high school guidance counselor rating is certainly suspicious. They had a 7% response rate from ~1,200 guidance counselors. Do you trust 85 random guidance counselors from across the country to judge universities? Many of these guidance counselors do not even have an advanced degree. I am not saying that the Peer Assessment score is flawless but it is certainly more valid simply due to the number of respondents, higher response rate (~40%), and the quality of respondents. Curious what @alexandre thinks here.
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