Feel free to ignore this introductory post, but if you plan to post a response, please consider reading the following, and the follow-on Methodology and Why Best posts, before commenting about flaws my reasoning or why this list is not important in choosing a school, etc. Then feel free to have at it!
I believe that the primary purpose of College Confidential should be to help inform parents and students as to what schools they should investigate, apply to, and eventually attend. Ive later come to find that CC also provides great advice on what specifically to look for in a school, how to audition, why MT is a poor career choice, etc.; unfortunately I didnt seriously investigate the site in time to benefit much from this.
Ranking schools is an inexact science no matter how it is approached, and whats best for some is not best for others; however, some level of quantitative comparison can be very useful when used in the proper context. Note: my D and family will not use these numbers as the primary metric to select a school, they will be weighed along with many other factors.
My anecdote on why this list is important: As a person without any relatives or friends in the theatre business, I searched for schools the way most novices would start: I googled best musical theatre schools and branched out from there. I ended up finding a lot of qualitative arguments about which schools were considered best, and the only way I got anywhere was to investigate schools that were mentioned the most (which was the reasoning behind my already notorious thread that ranked schools based on CC posts for me, it would been helpful to see something like that before I started). The what schools are mentioned most method worked fairly well, although I still didnt know that a school called Baldwin-Wallace existed until we were on the audition trail, or that Florida St had a good program, etc. (so it was too late to consider these and schools). Sure, a lot of that is my and Ds fault and we could have worked harder, but everyone here surely knows how overwhelming it is to research and apply to MT schools, while only some of you may appreciate how hard it is without knowing anyone (relative, coach, teacher) that has some knowledge of what this crazy world of MT is like. Im still learning, albeit too late -- we probably shouldn't have just taken a few shots in the backyard for our headshot, the first time I saw the term "MT coach" or audition coach was a few days ago on the CMU thread, say what?
People will continually point out that you cant fully represent success or prestige with a bunch of numbers (let alone a choice of college) I agree 100%. But it cannot be denied that these numbers give a partial representation of success/prestige, and its up to each individual how much weight (if any) to put in these numbers. Also, this imperfect metric is made worse by the limits of the dataset there are surely many alums that I missed, and some schools likely got ripped off more than others in this regard. Certainly, I was less likely to miss alums from the schools with good, easy to find alumni success pages versus those that didnt, or actors that listed school in their bios versus those that didnt. Then throw in that this is a fixed ~2-year timeframe, and that the data is broadway versus tours, regionals, etc.; a different dataset could change the numbers significantly.
So, while everyone can enjoy the debate of my methods, or comments about how rankings are useless, or that Ive failed to find a few alumni from a particular school, keep in mind that for some people this data can at least give them a starting point, and for others perhaps information for their investigation and decision process.
Finally, I am an engineer (if you havent figured that out already) and I cant stand it when people present results without discussing their methodology and assumptions so, if youre into that sort of thing, please check out the posts that follow the data, if you like to blindly interpret numbers then by all means...