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Northwestern and USNews trade insults online over college rankings


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

  • ChrchillChrchill Registered User Posts: 902 Member

    Just in Times World University ranking


    The ranking of US Universities in the top ten is:

    Cal Tech

    Penn, Yale JHU and Columbia (in that order) are in the 10-20 group
  • pupflierpupflier Registered User Posts: 74 Junior Member
    edited September 5
    colleges could "game" a ranking by turning out very successful grads, but considering that that's what I consider to be the main goal of undergrad education, how is that a bad thing?

    The problem with this approach is that you are attributing the success of this person, almost exclusively to their 4 years at an undergraduate institute. Let's say a person who went to Harvard as an undergrad wins a "Nobel prize". What does that really tell you about Harvard? Do you really want to make an argument that the four years at Harvard are what "made it possible" for this person to with the Nobel prize?

    Causation does not equal correlation. It would be very hard to measure how any undergrad education contributed to that success. Attributing all of that success to the university is just silly. Parenting, perseverance and personality have probably more to do with the achievement of a student than association with a university.

    Also, a student who is good in physics and wanting to pursue physics, in all probability seeks out schools that are "reputed" to be good in physics. How does a school get a reputation of being good in physics? Well spend "Money" to acquire great profs, labs and use them to do research and publish. In short, whether you get good at something in higher education, is increasingly determined by how much money you are willing to throw at the problem. It is not a sufficient condition, but it is a necessary condition.

    So the rich well endowed school that finally landed this student benefited from selection bias. He then goes on to win a Nobel prize. So what? The only way you can give the school the credit is if you can show that "this student" would not have won the Nobel prize, if they had gone to "Podunk state University"

    You can fool yourself into believing that "Output based rankings" are "more accurate". They are just the flip side of the same coin, whose other side is "input based rankings".

    All of these metrics, whether input based or output based are proxies for measuring parental and institutional wealth in some way or the other.

    What these rankings really tell me is that "its good to be born rich, and go to a rich school. If you are not born rich, try to get admitted to a rich school"

    Given that, there is no need to get all twisted up about any one ranking. You don't like one, try another. You don't like any, do your own.

  • bb3nycbb3nyc Registered User Posts: 18 New Member
    Also recent: the QS University Rankings. In the top 20 in the US: 1.MIT 2. Stanford 3. Harvard 4. CIT 9. Chicago 13. Princeton 14. Cornell 16. Yale 17 Johns Hopkins 18. Columbia 19. Penn
  • ChrchillChrchill Registered User Posts: 902 Member
    MIT. Stanford, Cal Tech, Harvard, UChicago and Princeton pretty consistently top 6 in US.
  • pupflierpupflier Registered User Posts: 74 Junior Member
    I guess Schapiro will be unhappy with the Times ranking as well :-)
  • Penn95Penn95 Registered User Posts: 1,984 Senior Member
    edited September 6
    @Chrchill In the latest THE ranking Penn was in the top 10. Last year it was in the 10-20 group.

  • ChrchillChrchill Registered User Posts: 902 Member
    @Penn95 Yes. congrats. ahead of Yale and Columbia
  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk Registered User Posts: 852 Member
    "I guess Schapiro will be unhappy with the Times ranking as well"

    NW is at 20, which seems reasonable for a world ranking. There has to be a graduate component to this, otherwise how are 88 schools ahead of Dartmouth, 49 ahead of Brown?

    Saying this is a trash ranking is an insult to trash (if I may borrow from John Cleese in A Fish Called Wanda).
  • TomSrOfBostonTomSrOfBoston Registered User Posts: 11,352 Senior Member
    edited September 6
    @theloniusmonk PLEASE look at the methodology! The worldwide rankings focus heavily on research output and they do not adjust for the size if the school.
  • YnotgoYnotgo Registered User Posts: 3,471 Senior Member
    @TomSrOfBoston They must adjust for the size of the school, otherwise how could Caltech be 3rd? (OK, I haven't looked at the methodology...)
  • vonlostvonlost Super Moderator Posts: 23,670 Super Moderator
    edited September 7
    "Ask hiring managers in Philadelphia about Reed or in LA about Bates....and you (generally) get blanks. The Flagship schools will climb to the top of every chart, as their graduates (with larger numbers) will reinforce the value of their own educations."

    Reed and Bates are primarily grad school prep colleges. Ask the hiring managers where grads got their MA/MS/PhD.
    Post edited by vonlost on
  • IWannaHelpIWannaHelp Registered User Posts: 220 Junior Member
    edited September 7
    Northwestern is ranked 20th by the Times. Why are you so hell bent that this is all about Schapiro being unhappy with ranking? To me, he's just trying to raise public awareness that USN ranking should be taken with a grain of salt.
  • Gator88NEGator88NE Registered User Posts: 5,417 Senior Member
    The Times rankings are always interesting, but they have their own issues, including being "gamed" by universities.

    33% of the rankings are based on Reputation Surveys, and everything is getting "normalized".


    The worse gaming happens with the Citation (30% of the overall score) metric:
    In 2015-16, we excluded papers with more than 1,000 authors because they were having a disproportionate impact on the citation scores of a small number of universities. Since last year, we have designed a method for reincorporating these papers. Working with Elsevier, we have developed a new fractional counting approach that ensures that all universities where academics are authors of these papers will receive at least 5 per cent of the value of the paper, and where those that provide the most contributors to the paper receive a proportionately larger contribution.
  • prof2dadprof2dad Registered User Posts: 694 Member
    edited September 7
    The Times ranking, along with many other international rankings, are jokes, particularly on the research category.

    First of all, universities are in the business of scholarship, not just research, more specifically, not just journal article publication (The Time ranking only counts journal articles). Scholarship include at least grant generation, journal article publication, books (think English department), performance (think music and arts department). The Time ranking only counts journal articles (also note that the value of a journal article varies a lot across different fields), so it biases against those universities with a big component of humanities. As a result, you see MIT, CalTech, etc. rank at the very top. I am not saying these STEM focused universities are not world class universities (they are), but the ranking provides no value for meaningful comparisons among universities that come in different sizes and flavors.

    Another funny thing about the Times ranking is that 6% goes to research income. Grant is probably the only meaningful component of research income. In other words, if a universities encourage its English professors to publish novels and poems, it will not be counted; if a university encourages its business professors to publish in elite business journals (almost all business research yields no grant), it will not be counted. The entire Times ranking is basically a quasi-research ranking mostly in the area of STEM, and no more than that.

    I used to serve on my university's scholarship committee. If my university does this kind of research/scholarship comparison among the units within my university, I can tell you, there would be a big revolt, because this is BS for those outside people who do not know the entire scope of university offerings.
  • prof2dadprof2dad Registered User Posts: 694 Member
    edited September 7
    Also, go to any elite university's department website and count an engineering (or other fields of STEM) full professor's publications. Then go to the same university's department website in business and count a business full professor's publications. You will note that an engineering professor often has more than 100 publications, but a business professor often has just a few dozens. Also note the average number of pages for each publication. An engineering article is usually much shorter than a business article. A typical lead time for publication in an elite business journal (from the birth of idea to the actual publication) is about 4-6 years today.

    I am not saying journal article in one field is more rigorous than the other. What I want to point out is that across fields, journal article publication is perceived and done differently. Lumping all of them together making little sense.
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