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US news ranking confusion

2

Replies to: US news ranking confusion

  • motconga123motconga123 Registered User Posts: 29 New Member
    Yeah, for the UC irvine too, and some university in UC systems, why in every criteria they're below A&M and UT, but they had such a high place in national ranking (#42), of UCI and UT/A&M, which one really better in term of academic? Thanks!
  • AlexandreAlexandre Registered User Posts: 24,693 Senior Member
    rickle1, I can think of several universities that are equal, if not superior, to some of those 17 universities that make the top 20 list in the three highly flawed rankings mentioned by tk21769. Many of those universities have one thing in common; they are public. Schools like Cal, Michigan, UNC and UVa to name a few, can match those 17 universities in terms of overall quality, but regardless of the methodology, certain criteria in those rankings are going to be prejudiced against larger public universities.

    If institutional wealth is the determining factor, Michigan and UVa match schools like Brown, Columbia, Cornell and Vanderbilt (especially when you factor in state funding).

    There are also several private universities that can match some of those 17 top 20 universities, including Carnegie Mellon, Emory, Georgetown and WUSTL.
  • simba9simba9 Registered User Posts: 3,261 Senior Member
    Not that I take any university ranking all that seriously, but the people who really seem to have a problem with the US News ranking are those from big, public universities that don't do well in the US News ranking. Yet they're perfectly happy to accept undergraduate rankings that are based on graduate and professional school reputations.
  • AlexandreAlexandre Registered User Posts: 24,693 Senior Member
    simba9, would you care to share a few examples to support your claim? ;)
  • snarlatronsnarlatron Registered User Posts: 1,638 Senior Member
    I have a problem with the USNWR rankings and went to a SLAC, not a big, public U. My problem is that when students have been polled (Princeton Review) about quality of teaching, happiness of students, friendliest campus, etc., places like Wittenberg show up, not Harvard.
  • TiggerDadTiggerDad Registered User Posts: 1,879 Senior Member
    No ranking system is perfect because it's impossible to rank something that's qualitative as undergrad education and experience. However, that doesn't mean that all ranking system is flawed, biased, and totally useless. They're there to serve as references and guides. Study their methodologies to see how the rankings were drawn up. It's up to each individual to look at them carefully and come to your own conclusions. You'd be naive if you were to accept them as unquestionable canons, and you'd be disingenuous if you were to trash them wholesale.
  • AlexandreAlexandre Registered User Posts: 24,693 Senior Member
    edited December 2017
    TiggerDad, the problem isn't just the methodologies, although those tend to be flawed too. But in many instances, the problem lies in data accuracy and consistency. It is pointless to look at a ranking where the data presented by one group of universities is completely different from the data presented by another group of universities.
  • CU123CU123 Registered User Posts: 3,312 Senior Member
    edited December 2017
    @Alexandre Can you be more specific? I would like to know about these completely different data sets and how they are presented, also would like to know about the specific schools which have inaccurate data and lack consistency. Facts only please, not rumor and innuendo.

    BTW this thread comes up every couple of months or so, there are other meaningful ways to compare universities but this one is the one people love or hate due to where their school places on it.

    Bottom line it's useful for a starting point but it's up to the applicant to decide which "things" are important to them and find a school that suits them. Personally having experience both large public and elite private.........well its night and day, and don't interpret that to mean you can't be successful at either.
  • AlexandreAlexandre Registered User Posts: 24,693 Senior Member
    edited December 2017
    Sure CU. Take a look at the student to faculty ratios reported by virtually every single private university. Get back to me when you have done so and we'll have a chat. ;)

    And CU, you are not the only one to have experienced both large public and elite private (I am an alumnus of Cornell and Michigan). From what I have seen, the difference is not night an day. In fact, they are pretty much identical in most ways. Resources, student quality, class size, on-campus recruiting, global reputation, prestige etc...
  • CU123CU123 Registered User Posts: 3,312 Senior Member
    edited December 2017
    No I asked you for that, I'm not making a claim, you are..........let me know when you get it.
  • AlexandreAlexandre Registered User Posts: 24,693 Senior Member
    Fair enough. The guidelines for calculating student to faculty ratios are clear. Total number of full time undergraduate students + half the number of part time undergraduate students + graduate students enrolled in departments and programs that enroll undergraduate students / total number of professors in departments and programs that enroll undergraduate students. Most private universities seem to omit the graduate students enrolled in departments and programs that also enroll undergraduate students. At most major research universities like Caltech, Columbia, Harvard, Penn etc..., the number of graduate students comes close to, if not exceeds, the number of undergraduate students.

    Caltech reports a 3:1 student to faculty ratio. However, if you look closely at their CDS, the way they come to their ratio is based purely on the 979 undergraduate students and leave out all 1,261 graduate students from their ratio.

    http://finance.caltech.edu/documents/479-cds2017.pdf (Section I, Instructional Faculty)

    The guideline is clearly laid out. The ratio must include graduate students enrolled in departments and programs that also enroll undergraduate students. Virtually all of Caltech's 1,261 graduate students are enrolled in departments and programs that enroll undergraduate students. As such, Caltech's student to faculty ratio should be over 6:1.

    Cornell University, my own alma matter, reports a 9:1 student to faculty ratio, but again, like Caltech, they fail to include a single graduate student. Their calculation is based on 14,393 students, which happens to be the number of full time undergraduate students plus half the number of part time undergraduate students. But not a single graduate student from its more than 5,000 graduate students enrolled in departments and graduate programs that enroll undergraduate students. Their ratio, should they include graduate students in departments and programs that enroll undergraduate students, would be closer to 12:1.

    http://dpb.cornell.edu/documents/1000569.pdf

    The University of Pennsylvania reports a 6:1 ratio. Again, Penn includes just 9,810 students, which again, is equal to the number of full time undergraduate students plus half the number of part time undergraduate students, but not a single graduate student from its more than 7,000 graduate students enrolled in departments and programs that enroll undergraduate students. Their ratio, should they include graduate students enrolled in departments and programs that enroll undergraduate students, would be over 10:1.

    Michigan, on the other hand, reports a ratio of 15:1. Unlike Caltech, Cornell and Penn, Michigan includes 38,076 students. That includes all 27,950 full time undergraduate students, half of the 1,014 part time students, and 9,619 graduate students enrolled in departments and programs that also enroll undergraduate students.

    There is a clear separation between private and public universities when it comes to reporting student to faculty ratios, although the instructions are very clear; graduate students enrolled in departments and programs that enroll undergraduate students must be included.

    I remember a time back in the mid 1990s when private universities decided to get creative, and started gaming the rankings. Their student to faculty ratios dropped from 10+:1 to under 8:1 overnight.
  • rickle1rickle1 Registered User Posts: 1,681 Senior Member
    I agree that UVA, UNC CH, William & Mary, UCB, UMich are among the best schools in the country. I never said they weren't. They appear prominently in many ranking systems. What I said was certain schools (including those mentioned) tend to appear on many "top lists" using a variety of ranking categories. Although I don't think you could / should use the rankings to say School A is the best, you should consider a school to be top notch in many ways if it is highly ranked with virtually all of the major lists (as opposed to one that shows up on one in one or two yrs.

    As an example, when I was a kid, 100 yrs ago, UVA was considered among the best public universities. Today, virtually every ranking system of public schools still considers it among the best (top 5). Every Single Year. There's a reason for that. It happens to be one of the best public universities. Does that mean you won't get a good education at VCU? No. But if you're interested in the more esteemed professors, more highly accomplished students - bigger endowment, better on campus job recruiting in many areas, etc you would go to UVA. Most people would consider it a better school.

    USNWR ranks in many categories. LACs, Publics, National Universities, etc. Many publics, including top publics, really shine in graduate programs (Think Darden, UVA Law School, etc). Also think about admissions. Although OOS at a UVA or UNC is very selective, in state is not nearly as difficult as any of the schools mentioned on the posters list, not even close. OOS is still nowhere as difficult as it is to gain admission to HYPSM or most of the other schools mentioned. Part of the ranking system is based on admissions selectivity.
  • CU123CU123 Registered User Posts: 3,312 Senior Member
    So you have a factor that is 5% of 20% of the total rank according to USNWR, and are also claiming that schools report these numbers based on their own interpretation (including grads or not) AND USNWR uses these numbers without any fact checking. Wow! ..........but then they suspended GW in 2012 from the rankings for cheating on there data (inflating accepted students class ranking). Not only that but it would take 30 seconds to calculate the student to faculty ratio, not a lot of effort here to fact check.
  • AlexandreAlexandre Registered User Posts: 24,693 Senior Member
    CU123, GW, CMU and Emory individually have all knowingly published faulty information, but I am now referring to isolated cases of fraudulent activity. I am more concerned with widespread abuse in data reporting. You downplay the student to faculty ratio, but that is one of the most easily verified data points. If universities are purposely manipulating that data, it is certain that other data is being manipulated as well.
  • tk21769tk21769 Registered User Posts: 10,606 Senior Member
    edited January 2018
    Schools like Cal, Michigan, UNC and UVa to name a few, can match those 17 universities in terms of overall quality, ...

    USNWR, Forbes, Kiplinger, etc., do tend to rank those 4 universities quite highly (typically in the 20s).
    If you're a top student living in CA, it would make sense to add ~10 positions to Berkeley's or UCLA's rank. If you're a top student living in Michigan, it would make sense to do about the same for Michigan-AA's position. But if you're a top student in any other state who needs financial aid, you probably shouldn't even be looking at those schools so their rankings are irrelevant.

    The other day I ran some net price calculations for a NY state resident with ~$100K+ annual income (~2x the national median), roughly commensurate assets, and 1 child (the highly qualified prospective college student). Here are some of the resulting estimates:
    $20,095 ... MIT
    $23,585 ... Columbia
    $23,647 ... Haverford
    $23,850 ... UPenn
    $28,711 ... Cornell
    $49,457 ... Michigan - AA (OOS)

    Even if these parents were Michigan residents, Michigan's net price estimate would be higher than Cornell's, at $29,528.

    IMO, all things considered (academics, campus experience, FA, etc.) Michigan is the best all-around state university in America for undergrads. However, this net price comparison is one example of how even the best state universities don't quite compete in the same national market space, for undergrads, as the top ~20 private universities. It would be wonderful if they did (considering the huge demand for spots at top colleges). It is whistling past the graveyard to dismiss one college assessment after another, which place the top public flagships a little behind the T ~20 private schools. Instead we should be pointing to evidence that state schools could do even better (and advocate for more public investment in these schools.)
This discussion has been closed.