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Rankings -- Which are the most trustworthy?

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Replies to: Rankings -- Which are the most trustworthy?

  • mathmommathmom Registered User Posts: 29,618 Senior Member
    I think back when mackinaw's kid was accepted at U of Chicago - it was much less highly ranked. Which pretty much shows the flaws in the system, since I don't think the educational quality has changed much in that time period. One thing about USNWR is that you can sort by each of the categories they use. Though I believe you may have to pay for the premium edition of their report to do so.
  • ChrchillChrchill Registered User Posts: 903 Member
    @Machinaw Well UChicago is extremely highly ranked 3 in USNWR) top 5-6 of US universities in these global rankings. My general observation has been that people dismiss rankings and do follow and criticize them at the same time. The reality is they do matter even if purists perceive them as gauche.
  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan Registered User Posts: 9,999 Senior Member
    @Chrchill, actually, it's more nuanced than that.

    People have ideas on how good, prestigious, useful various schools/programs are (and the opposite as well), but the people who matter aren't going by any ranking.
  • lvvcsflvvcsf Registered User Posts: 1,879 Senior Member
    I think USNews is extremely useful for gathering information. It's kind of like CC. It can give you a lot of help. Using it merely for rankings (or CC for the Chance Me threads) I think short changes it and most likely causes undo stress in an already stressful process. Like someone else mentioned a school moving up or down spots on their list doesn't change the value of the school. Schools need to figure out how to best educate the students they have and not work at gaming a system to get the best rating. U of Chicago was always a fine university. They did get better at attracting applicants which made them seem more selective which effects how they are viewed in peer rankings etc. The quality of the school relative to it's peers hasn't changed.
  • blossomblossom Registered User Posts: 8,075 Senior Member
    Speaking for large corporate employers here....

    Rankings can be useful to put a school that wasn't on the map on someone's radar. But only if a bump in ratings is accompanied by a comparable bump in quality (rigor, caliber of students, academic standards to get a degree in a certain discipline). In and of themselves- no Fortune 100 company is developing a recruiting strategy for their global talent operation based on a two point movement between college number 12 and 14.

    So what does this mean practically? If you have a kid who cares about academic rigor (some do, some don't) he or she is likely to "feel" a real difference between a school rated number 10 and one rated 100. That doesn't mean that he or she can't find his "peeps" at the lower ranked school, and it doesn't mean that the actual academic offerings in a given department are sub-par. But the kid will need more initiative to tap into what's there.

    Can a kid major in Classics at University of New Hampshire and get an experience similar to that of Berkeley, Chicago, Michigan? Maybe- with a whole lot of energy. Develop an independent study with a professor who has expertise in the area of interest. Go abroad for a year to an institution with deeper chops in this area. So it's not just the highly subjective ranking- there are universities which by some pretty objective measures have deeper and more intense expertise in particular areas.

    Does it matter for your kid? I don't know- I don't know your kid. If I'm hiring for an entry level rotational program in manufacturing management or financial management I need kids who can read, write, analyze, summarize, develop an independent hypothesis about something and then figure out what research is required in order to get to an answer. So I like kids who studied something which teaches them that-- and excelling at a college which has high standards is a good marker (not the only marker) that the kid works hard and has the right kind of skills.

    Econ is a very tough major at some colleges, and is the default "easy major" for varsity athletes who don't have time to study at other colleges. Philosophy is going to be incredible rigorous at Princeton but less so at University of New Haven.

    Rankings can be a quick shortcut to employers-- but there is usually some in depth knowledge about a particular college that goes beyond the ranking as well.

    Nuance. And of course- it depends. There are kids majoring in beer pong EVERYWHERE so if you have a kid who isn't going to class very often and isn't going to be writing an honors thesis on the differences between Mao and Lenin and how that legacy plays out in modern Sino/Russian relations, then it almost doesn't matter what ranking you use.
  • ChrchillChrchill Registered User Posts: 903 Member
    Very helpful. Thanks,
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 63,485 Senior Member
    @Chrchill

    Are you concerned that the rankings where your kid will be attending college aren't high enough?

    University of Chicago is a fine school. Clearly, it had a number one ranking for YOUR kid because your kid got accepted there ED.

    It doesn't matter what the rankings are in any other means...all,that matters is that YOUR kid got accepted at HER number one ranked school.
  • circuitridercircuitrider Registered User Posts: 2,432 Senior Member
    edited January 26
    The individual ranks don't matter, that is, until there's a drastic move up or down by one college or another (like Chicago) - then, suddenly all H*** breaks loose because, in truth, we have internalized the ranking pecking order to the point where it becomes self-fulfilling prophecy. I think it's only a matter of time before they all begin to use some derivative of College Scorecard's data points - it's public information (although, who knows for how long) and we seem to be in the midst of a "bottom line" mentality regarding just about everything.
  • ChrchillChrchill Registered User Posts: 903 Member
    @thumper1 Why do you keep insisting on personalizing matters? This was a general query @blossom obviously got the gist of my question.
  • ChrchillChrchill Registered User Posts: 903 Member
    @circuitrider I agree. Moreover, individual dissections make little sense to me. Schools should be viewed in cohorts.
  • socalmom007socalmom007 Registered User Posts: 1,017 Senior Member
    I do think rankings are pretty valuable in making decisions as parents and students. Do we choose the dream school ranked number 25, or go with the scholarship school ranked 110, what about the bigger scholarship ranked 430... still in the running? What's the return on investment going to be with the bigger name brand, the lower name brand, and the school no one has heard of or has a dubious reputation? The various rankings do matter, at least to our family, in the final scheme of things.
  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan Registered User Posts: 9,999 Senior Member
    @circuitrider: Speaking for only some people, I presume.

    I can't say that the U of C's move up (or NEU's, etc.) has changed my view of those schools on an absolute or even relative basis.
  • northwestynorthwesty Registered User Posts: 2,749 Senior Member
    Purple -- so what's your view of USNWR #8 Penn?

    Obviously it has always been a great school. But back in 1990 it was USNWR #20 and last in the Ivy League. Did you know that?

    Penn was able to move up the ladder by (among other things obviously) aggressively pioneering the use of ED as a way to "manage" yield and admission rates.

    You may not be impressed today by the moves recently made by Chicago or NEU. But those moves are quite likely to impress people 10 years from now.

  • ChrchillChrchill Registered User Posts: 903 Member
    These moves already impress people. Proof is the just above 7.6% admit rate at UChicagp last year. These rankings are important for admissions, alumni contributions and placement. But attempting a level of granularity where, as per UNWR for example, UChicago and Yale are 3rd and Columbia and Stanford are 4th is not credible. Looking at these schools in tiers or cohorts makes more sense.
  • blossomblossom Registered User Posts: 8,075 Senior Member
    Penn is a great example of why rankings alone are somewhat meaningless. Being "last in the Ivy League" is a metric of exactly what?
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