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USNWR Rankings Ex-Alumni Giving

hawkettehawkette Registered User Posts: 4,863 Senior Member
edited February 2009 in College Search & Selection
Many consumers of the USNWR rankings believe that the Alumni Giving element should not be included in the calculation of the rankings. Some even believe that the inclusion of this factor undermines the public universities and their ultimate ranking. In some cases, this is true, eg, for the UC Berkeley and UCLA which have a very low AG rate/rank, but there are also several publics that have strong giving rates (Georgia Tech, U Virginia).

My personal view is that this factor should not be included in a ranking of national universities unless one does separate rankings for privates and publics. I think it is an appropriate element for the privates, but not for the publics.

Below is an estimated recalculation of the USNWR Top 50 rankings without the Alumni Giving element.

Note: Due to ties of multiple schools at various points in the original rankings, the elimination of AG removes these ties and can give the impression of large changes in rankings. In addition, the evaluation here is solely for those colleges in the USWNR Top 50 national universities.

USNWR Rank ex-Alumni Giving , USNWR Rank , Difference ,


1 , 1 , 0 , Harvard
2 , 2 , 0 , Princeton
3 , 3 , 0 , Yale
4 , 4 , 0 , Stanford
4 , 4 , 0 , MIT
6 , 6 , 0 , U Penn
6 , 6 , 0 , Caltech
8 , 8 , 0 , Columbia
8 , 8 , 0 , U Chicago
10 , 8 , -2 , Duke
11 , 12 , 1 , Northwestern
12 , 12 , 0 , Wash U
13 , 11 , -2 , Dartmouth
14 , 14 , 0 , Cornell
15 , 15 , 0 , Johns Hopkins
16 , 17 , 1 , Rice
17 , 16 , -1 , Brown
18 , 18 , 0 , Vanderbilt
19 , 21 , 2 , UC Berkeley
20 , 18 , -2 , Emory
21 , 18 , -3 , Notre Dame
22 , 22 , 0 , Carnegie Mellon
23 , 25 , 2 , UCLA
24 , 23 , -1 , U Virginia
25 , 23 , -2 , Georgetown
26 , 26 , 0 , U Michigan
27 , 28 , 1 , Tufts
28 , 27 , -1 , USC
29 , 28 , -1 , Wake Forest
30 , 30 , 0 , U North Carolina
31 , 33 , 2 , NYU
32 , 32 , 0 , W&M
33 , 31 , -2 , Brandeis
34 , 35 , 1 , UCSD
35 , 35 , 0 , U Wisconsin
36 , 35 , -1 , U Rochester
37 , 34 , -3 , Boston Coll
38 , 35 , -3 , Lehigh
38 , 37 , -1 , Georgia Tech
38 , 40 , 2 , U Illinois
41 , 41 , 0 , Case Western
42 , 41 , -1 , U Washington
43 , 41 , -2 , Rensselaer
44 , 44 , 0 , UC Santa Barbara
45 , 44 , -1 , UC Davis
46 , 44 , -2 , UC Irvine
47 , 47 , 0 , U Texas
48 , 47 , -1 , Penn State
48 , 49 , 1 , U Florida
50 , 51 , 1 , Tulane
50 , 50 , 0 , Yeshiva
Post edited by hawkette on

Replies to: USNWR Rankings Ex-Alumni Giving

  • Sligh_AnarchistSligh_Anarchist Registered User Posts: 2,193 Senior Member
    Interesting information. Any rankings for the top 50 LACs?
  • nycnyc Registered User Posts: 1,355 Senior Member
    Even more interesting will be the rankings after the fall-out from the Madoff scam. I know that the Yeshiva and Brandeis endowments were hit hard (Brandeis is closing its museum and selling off its collection) - - I wonder how many others will be affected.
  • standrewsstandrews Registered User Posts: 1,365 Senior Member
    Many of the factors USNWR rates tend to be self reinforcing. Harvard is a great school because it has great students and it has many great students with SAT score applying because it is a great school. In addition, the freshman retention rate for these great students is extremely high and almost all of them graduate in 4 years.

    So is alumni giving just another measure of greatness? I don't think that it is because the alumni are a body of people that graduated 5, 10, 20, 35 years ago. It is admirable that alumni feel a sense of gratitude and loyalty to the institution, but their feelings toward the school, good, bad or indifferent, may have little to do with what's actually happening on campus today. Older alumni may get ticked off at a new administration and withhold contributions. This was somewhat the case at Wm & Mary with the Wren Chapel cross incident.

    What I would really like to see from USNWR's web edition rankings is the ability to assign your own weighting of their criteria to come up with your own rankings. That way if alumni giving is important to you, you can give it a 5% or 10% weighting. If it's not important to you, give 0% weighting.
  • hmom5hmom5 - Posts: 10,882 Senior Member
    I'm curious about why this is unfair to publics. As Virginia shows, alum can be generous to publics. IMO, the UC's don't get donations because folks I know in general didn't have the college experience others had at similarly ranked privates.

    To me this a hugely important part of the rankings. Alumni give because they feel the college gave them something they value. This is the only voice of user satisfaction in the rankings. I value this more than what others think of the faculty and research coming out of the school.
  • DbateDbate - Posts: 2,699 Senior Member
    ^^There is a difference in culture climate though. I mean take University of Texas there are 50K people and some succesful ppl donate millions, but it is not probable that so many actually donate. It is just not common to give alumni donations at publics at least that is the feel I get. Privates probably give a closer "community" feel and therefore ppl are more likely to donate. One could argue that a community feel is good for the experience at college, but some ppl prefer to be a face in the crowd.
    On the flip side alumni giving probably speaks to some extent of the strength of the alumni association which could help in job prospects. But using University of Texas as another example the network is EXTENSIVE (especially in Texas), just yesterday I went to a cake shop and got into a conversation with a worker about how her family went to UT bc I had just gotten accepted.
    So the alumni giving is not always a measure of the alumni network strength.
  • rjkofnovirjkofnovi Registered User Posts: 10,010 Senior Member
    Taxpayers at publics feel like they contribute to their universities in their paychecks.
  • hmom5hmom5 - Posts: 10,882 Senior Member
    Why is Virginia different? I'd say because it creates a community feel and the experience is similar to it's peer private colleges. Community creates loyalty.
  • gthopefulgthopeful Registered User Posts: 1,828 Senior Member
    Why is Virginia different? I'd say because it creates a community feel and the experience is similar to it's peer private colleges. Community creates loyalty.

    I don't think that's the whole story. Alumni giving rate measures how many people felt like giving money in ANY amount back to the school. Also, some schools absolutely HOUND their alumni for contributions and many will donate just to placate their alma maters. Should the middle class family who donated 100 dollars count the same as the businessman who endowed a chair in the department he graduated from?

    To me, there is no way of telling given the information available in this thread why Virginia's donation rate is so high.
  • monydadmonydad Registered User Posts: 7,384 Senior Member
    Something to be considered in deciding how much prominence to give these #s is:

    Alumni giving rates are undoubtedly correlated with a number of variables besides how much the alumni valued their college experience.

    Among these are:
    1) Alumni wealth
    I personally have given more $$, and more often, to my alma maters when I was flush than when I wasn't, so I know this is highly relevant from my own experience.

    Schools that produce high proportions of doctors, lawyers and investment bankers are obviously in the best position to have high giving rates. But if a given college educates a higher proportion of students who would rather become professors, social service workers and musicians, these people may value their college experience just as much. However they just have less disposable income to give. The reported giving rate is likely to show up lower, but this may have nothing to do with what the alumni body as a whole feels about their college experience. They, by choice, might be more tuned in to less lucrative professions. And they chose schools which they felt best fostered those goals and values, despite monetary implications. This does not make their school "worse", for them. Yet it is likely to result in a lower alumni giving rate.


    2) Differentials in focused efforts to pump donations:
    I shared an office with a guy who was class officer for school x. I saw how he was actively working the donation begging for his high-donation college. His plea was all about beating schools y and z in donation %. It had nothing to do with whether they liked their experience at his school. It was all about beating schools Y and z. It was turned into a competitive game. He was hounding these people, guilting these people, and appealing to all sorts of motivations that do not very closely relate to whether they loved their education.

    None of my alma maters engage in this degree of aggressive solicitation. But they each vary substantially in their efforts. Which ubdoubtedly affects the results.

    3) "Prestige Whoring"
    some schools attract a higher proportion of people that care a great deal about making themselves look good. In fact, that's why they may have chosen their colleges in the first place. These people may give, not because they liked their education, but because they want their schools to remain highly rated so that their image of themselves as elite individuals is maintained. That does not necessarily indicate that they really liked their school very much, or that you will.

    This can I guess be related to #2; at least my office-mate was often citing rankings, etc, relative to those certain other schools in his donation appeals, which I overheard quite clearly.

    4) Suspect Numbers
    I've read schools fudge #s by, for example, just dropping alumni who don't ever contribute from their denominator. This would explain why one of my alma maters no longer even solicits me. I bet they don't report me either.
This discussion has been closed.