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Why is Columbia ranked higher than Stanford?

jkreinejkreine Posts: 83Registered User Junior Member
edited August 2012 in Stanford University
Obviously, rankings are not the most important characteristic of colleges. Rankings indicate little about actual student experience. Also, Columbia is an incredible school in an incredible city.
Having said that, here are the 2011 US News rankings:
1. Harvard and Princeton (tied for first)
3. Yale
4. Columbia
5. Stanford
(See National University Rankings | Top National Universities | US News Best Colleges)
I understand the reasoning behind ranking HPY above Stanford. But Columbia before Stanford and MIT and Caltech and 10 places ahead of Brown? That surprised me.
Stanford/Columbia cross admits choose Stanford 79% of the time (source:The New York Times > Week in Review > Image > Collegiate Matchups: Predicting Student Choices) and I think generally Stanford is regarded as a more prestigious school, with more resources and more opportunities for graduates in my opinion.
Could some one explain why this is the case, and what actions the Stanford Administration is taking to correct this for next year?
Post edited by jkreine on
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Replies to: Why is Columbia ranked higher than Stanford?

  • solemnsolemn Posts: 22Registered User New Member
    A better question is - why do we pay attention to U.S. News and World Report's College Rankings?


    I mean, they have to tweak their methodology every year in order to sell copies, otherwise people would feel ripped off. It just so happened that this year USNWR's revised methodology had Columbia over Stanford. I don't know any serious applicants to these schools that really pay attention to these rankings. Columbia offers some things for some people; same for Stanford. But I don't know that a difference of one place in a market-driven ranking would really affect my opinion of either school.

    And frankly, the Stanford administration has better (and indeed, more important) things to do with its time and resources than fret over the market-driven rankings which its Dean of Admissions has publicly discredited. Schools which fret over the rankings typically aren't the schools which are at the top of the rankings anyway.

    Think of rankings like SAT scores - once you hit a certain threshold, the number really doesn't matter.

    Just my two cents.
  • SeekingUniSeekingUni Posts: 2,188Registered User Senior Member
    A better question is - why do we pay attention to U.S. News and World Report's College Rankings?
    An even better question is, even if rankings did mean anything valuable, what difference does one position make?
  • jkreinejkreine Posts: 83Registered User Junior Member
    I should have phrased my question differently: does the general public view Stanford as more or less prestigious than Columbia? Usually US News accurately reflects prestige perceptions (with exceptions like overranking Chicago and underanking Brown, for example, in my opinion). I know the difference between Columbia and Stanford in prestige seems trivial, but I think that in a bad economy going to a prestigious school is even more important. Besides, nobody will deny that brand name is important, even if you disagree that it shouldn't be important, and bragging rights are nice to have lol.
  • SeekingUniSeekingUni Posts: 2,188Registered User Senior Member
    Usually US News accurately reflects prestige perceptions
    Or is it the other way around? So many people reference the rankings when establishing their own opinions about which is more prestigious.

    When you want to get that specific, prestige kinda depends on what you're going for. If computer engineering, computer science, or almost anything technological in nature, Stanford is probably the winner because of its location (plenty of startups in the area, large computer industry corporations are based in CA, etc.).
  • jkreinejkreine Posts: 83Registered User Junior Member
    Location matters. But, for example, few would say go to Georgetown over HYPS if you want to do government just because Gtown is in DC.
  • SeekingUniSeekingUni Posts: 2,188Registered User Senior Member
    Location matters. But, for example, few would say go to Georgetown over HYPS if you want to do government just because Gtown is in DC.
    Right, but unlike in the case at hand here, Georgetown and HYPS are not a matter of being ranked adjacently -- literally, as Columbia and Stanford are.
  • thecubethecube Posts: 86Registered User Junior Member
    the US News & World Report is a complete farting joke; just do a bit of digging on their methodology, as mentioned above. a couple months ago i remember reading the rank is calculated with five equally weighted "factors"—but not teaching quality, not research opportunities, not research output of faculty, not grads' first job income. endowment/alumni donations was one entire factor, an index combining admission rate and retention rate was another (how is that even relevant...), etc. absolutely NOTHING of real meaning that actually reflects the quality of education, or exposure to research and real-world opportunities. those two factors, for instance, are probably why caltech is ranked lower (not as many rich, loyal alumni because caltech doesn't coddle legacies, and higher admission rate because less people are science-devoted enough to apply in the first place). the general public may swallow it, but then again the general public swallows a lot of stuff. and I don't think the stanford administration should stoop down to the level of caring about the rankings. they have more important things to do, like continuing to support their cutting-edge, world-class, visionary CS and EE research programs.
  • DungareedollDungareedoll Posts: 727Registered User Member
    My understanding was that Stanford didn't subscribe to this ranking at all. I was informed by someone who sat in on an admission session that Stanford does not give any stats to USNWR. So the stats that they come upwith are ones that they put together on their own, some how. Stanford really doesn't care about the ranking and to me that makes it even better.
  • ww2015ww2015 Posts: 67Registered User Junior Member
    It is difficult to say which one is better, Stanford or Columbia. Columbia stands at #4 place for last two years. My personal opinion is Stanford should be within top 6~7, right now it is top 9 or #5 (don't forget there are 4 other #5s). Look at SAT score from College Board, Stanford's is lower than Columbia's and lower than HYP's and lower than Chicago's. 43% of Stanford students come from California, the cross-admit data doesn't mean too much. But Columbia will not stay at #4 position forever, it will move down very soon.
  • timelesstimeless Posts: 152Registered User Junior Member
    ^ why do you think cross admit data do not mean too much?
  • JamieBrownJamieBrown Posts: 401- Member
    My understanding was that Stanford didn't subscribe to this ranking at all. I was informed by someone who sat in on an admission session that Stanford does not give any stats to USNWR. So the stats that they come upwith are ones that they put together on their own, some how. Stanford really doesn't care about the ranking and to me that makes it even better.

    you would be WRONG here
  • JamieBrownJamieBrown Posts: 401- Member
    I should have phrased my question differently: does the general public view Stanford as more or less prestigious than Columbia?

    much much more prestigious than Columbia
  • DungareedollDungareedoll Posts: 727Registered User Member
    Why do you think I'm wrong?
  • timelesstimeless Posts: 152Registered User Junior Member
    i think Dungareedoll is right...
  • DungareedollDungareedoll Posts: 727Registered User Member
    Like I said I got this information from a highschool college counselor, who actually was priviledged enough to sit in on an admission session at Stanford. She was told this by the Stanford admission counselors themselves.
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