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What US News ranking system is more useful/reliable?

2

Replies to: What US News ranking system is more useful/reliable?

  • Penn95Penn95 Registered User Posts: 2,320 Senior Member
    @metalmonk28 when looking at colleges I believe it is important to look at both the overall rankings and the individual department rankings and weight both in your decision. Also I would not just look at US News for overall rankings. Yes USNews is the most established ranking but even USNews has certain biases. So looking at a few other college rankings too would also help you get a broader and maybe less biased picture of the standing of every school.
  • juilletjuillet Super Moderator Posts: 12,646 Super Moderator
    I don't think individual department rankings are important at all.

    First of all, most departmental rankings are at the graduate level (usually doctoral programs). For virtually all majors outside of engineering and business, people don't rank the undergraduate programs. But graduate program rankings do not map perfectly onto undergrad rankings. They omit schools that don't have doctoral programs in the field (including all LACs), and they take into account factors that would be important to a doctoral student but not necessarily to an undergrad.

    Even for the few programs that are ranked at the undergrad level - mostly engineering and business - the methodology is usually quite weak and unreliable. USNWR ranks undergrad engineering and business programs solely based on a single 1-5 rating scale from deans and senior faculty in engineering programs, which is a completely unreliable way to rank engineering programs. A single question is a terrible "survey," and has so many measurement issues.

    Bloomberg's undergrad business program ranking is better - it's all predicated on four outputs (employer feedback, student ratings, starting salary, and internship placements), and statistical manipulations are used to balance the survey and account for measurement error. They also have a way better explanation of how to use their rankings:

    Index scores show the difference in measurement between schools better than rankings do. For example, the difference between a school with an index number of 91 and a school with an index number of 90 is small. The difference between two programs with index numbers of 91 and 83, however, is substantial. In either case, though, the schools might be separated by only one ranking place.

    emphasizing the fact that mere numerical numbers of the rankings is not useful. (USNWR does not publish the results of the peer assessment "survey" they send, probably because the differences are negligible. Nor do they indicate to how many deans and senior faculty members they send the survey or how those people are identified.) And notice how very different Bloomberg's scores are (good schools are on top but not necessarily the ones you might expect) from USNWR's.

    But that brings me to my third reason, and that's that most students will take only about 1/3 of their total college classes in their major, and many many students will change their majors before or during college. Your major doesn't become your institutional "home" in undergrad the same way it does in grad school, so it doesn't make as much sense to pick a college solely because of your major. In one case in an above post, if you select a school because you want aerospace engineering and decide in your sophomore year that you want to major in art history but your school is not a good all-around school - or worse, if you pick a school you don't really like because of your major, only to change your major later - you may regret your choice.
  • Penn95Penn95 Registered User Posts: 2,320 Senior Member
    I think the Bloomberg undergrad business ranking is kind of a joke. They have Penn (Wharton) at #16, and Villanova, ND and Boston College top 3. This just does not make sense no matter how one looks at it.

    Also I think departmental rankings do matter when looking into colleges. it is not the only thing that matters for sure, maybe not even the most important thing, but it is still important. i student interested in a specific field will be much better served at a college that has a strong department in that field. Yes most department rankings are about grad school, but they do measure departmental quality and this is something that trickles down to undergrad in terms of the quality of the professors teaching the courses, the quality of research opportunities, alumni network in that specific field etc.
  • insanedreamerinsanedreamer Registered User Posts: 1,536 Senior Member
    I think the Bloomberg undergrad business ranking is kind of a joke. They have Penn (Wharton) at #16, and Villanova, ND and Boston College top 3. This just does not make sense no matter how one looks at it.

    So, the method is wrong because it doesn't conform with your subjective view of what the outcome should be?

    If we believe the outcome is wrong then either the methodology is wrong (wrong inputs), or the calculations are faulty (wrong math), or the information Bloomberg receives is incorrect (wrong data). All those are valid criticisms. But in the absence of those being wrong, then we have to accept the outcome is okay even if it conflicts with preconceived notions.
  • my2caligirlsmy2caligirls Registered User Posts: 936 Member
    This rating is dated but I like it as it compares USNews and Bloomberg - http://poetsandquantsforundergrads.com/2014/07/01/2014-pq-ranking-of-the-best-undergraduate-business-programs/2/. I have a high school daughter also looking at undergrad business programs - socal based and no interest in "Business Econ" at some of the top UC's - Indiana Kelley ranks well and is direct admit which is important for us.
  • philbegasphilbegas Registered User Posts: 2,997 Senior Member
    edited November 2016
    I think it was brave of Bloomberg to stand up and say "Ivies aren't the only top schools out there". There's no doubt that Wharton is a great school and that employers value the name but Bloomberg simply used different parameters to measure the rankings. Their list is also multi-faceted allowing you to rank the schools by the different parameters as well. For salary, Wharton moves up to #1 if you rank it by that factor!

    It's worth it to note the new rankings which have their own thread as well:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2016/10/20/heres-a-new-college-ranking-based-entirely-on-other-college-rankings/?utm_term=.41874111b9a5
  • juilletjuillet Super Moderator Posts: 12,646 Super Moderator
    I think the Bloomberg undergrad business ranking is kind of a joke. They have Penn (Wharton) at #16, and Villanova, ND and Boston College top 3. This just does not make sense no matter how one looks at it.

    Pretty much what @insanedreamer said. This is why US News sells so many magazines every year - their ranking scales largely conform to what people are expecting to hear about universities and colleges. US News' rankings are very reliant on inputs - the perceived quality of the students who go to the school. Bloomberg very clearly laid out their methodology and their criteria are all outputs - where students end up after college, and how they feel about the college once they are already there. Depending on your values, you may value one ranking over the other. Personally I think it's better to evaluate a university in terms of where it places you in your career than what you looked like when you got there. But that's just me.
    i student interested in a specific field will be much better served at a college that has a strong department in that field.

    Why do you think that? I'd be interested in your reasoning. (Genuinely.)
    Yes most department rankings are about grad school, but they do measure departmental quality and this is something that trickles down to undergrad in terms of the quality of the professors teaching the courses, the quality of research opportunities, alumni network in that specific field etc.

    Graduate departmental rankings don't indicate anything about the undergrad alumni network in a specific field. The graduate alumni network may not matter as much, either, if most grad students end up in academia.

    Graduate departmental rankings do allude to the quality of professors, but the quality is related to the professors' research output and ability to get grants. That has, in my opinion, a net neutral effect on undergrads. On the one hand, additional grant money flowing into the department increases the resources available and may create paid research positions for undergrads; also, having experts in the field teaching you in class is great. On the other hand, a lot of those hotshot experts only teach graduate seminars (or don't teach at all!), and more grant funding also means that adjuncts and teaching assistants are hired to replace the professors who are now doing research to sustain their grants. Also, having to concentrate on grant funding means that professors spend less time concentrating on teaching and mentoring. That doesn't mean that they are bad at it, or don't care about it - a lot of professors do like it. But it does mean that on average they are far more occupied by their research agendas than teaching undergrads.

    In my prestigious graduate department, lower-level introductory classes were taught by adjuncts and lecturers who were hired specifically for that purpose. Mid-level classes (sophomore and junior level) were taught by new assistant professors who were on the tenure-track - great researchers, but early career. Upper-level seminars were taught by new assistant professors and a few of the tenured professors, who sometimes taught one upper-level undergraduate seminar. The real famous experts in the field mostly taught one graduate seminar a year. (There was one very famous professor emeritus who did teach a mixed undergrad-grad class.)

    I also think the research opportunities are a net neutral. On the one hand, there's cutting edge work going on, and undergrads may have the opportunity to work on something really cool! On the other hand, scads of grad students and postdocs mean that undergrads are lower on the pecking order, and the tasks that they do may be more routine than actually fully participatory.

    That also doesn't address the fact that many college students will change their major anyway, or that most of the classes you take are not in your department.

    Still, I will revise my original statement. You're right - it's not that they're not important at all. That's too strong. Rather, I think they should be pretty low priority in any college-bound senior's criteria for a university.
  • insanedreamerinsanedreamer Registered User Posts: 1,536 Senior Member
    One more point about Bloomberg's rankings. Its graduate (MBA) rankings reflect the commonly held reputation of "prestigious" business schools - Wharton, Sloan, Kellogg, Harvard, etc. But those aren't necessarily the best at undergrad. And why should they be? An MBA course is a completely different animal than undergrad biz.
  • philbegasphilbegas Registered User Posts: 2,997 Senior Member
    Wait US News rankings are based on inputs? That seems significantly less useful the Bloomberg ones.
  • TooOld4SchoolTooOld4School Registered User Posts: 3,204 Senior Member
    edited December 2016
    I would go by the undergrad rankings, at least for business. Only one Ivy offers an undergrad business degree - Wharton so the grad rankings are mostly irrelevant. The rest are filled in by large publics like Michigan, Indiana, etc and a few privates like Notre Dame. That may change in the next few years, however.
  • knights99knights99 Registered User Posts: 25 Junior Member
    I don't trust Bloomberg. It places Duquesne 55th for undergrad business. I looked at there post grad surveys and only 60% are employed in 6 momths. Also I was under the impression that Bloomberg is going to stop ranking colleges next year.
  • ThankYouforHelpThankYouforHelp Registered User Posts: 1,295 Senior Member
    The most reliable ranking system is the one that ranks my college and my childrens' colleges the highest.

    We all can find a rationalization to support that conclusion that we all want to reach. However, some of us don't realize how much we are rationalizing.
  • IsaacTheFutureIsaacTheFuture Registered User Posts: 208 Junior Member
    If you are utterly sure that you will stick to your major, than the Business ranking. After all, you won't be taking every major offered at the school, so why would the overall school rank take more president over major specific rankings?
  • insanedreamerinsanedreamer Registered User Posts: 1,536 Senior Member
    The most reliable ranking system is the one that ranks my college and my childrens' colleges the highest.

    CC gold :)
  • knights99knights99 Registered User Posts: 25 Junior Member
    What I did is look up the post grad surveys of schools I already had interest in and ranked them myself based on my major.
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