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College Rankings - most useful?

ScarletRobinScarletRobin Registered User Posts: 26 Junior Member
What college rankings/information sources do you find the most useful. I'm talking about the usuals; USNews; Princeton Review; College Navigator; UCAN; Peterson's; Baron's and the like. Are there others that are worth the time/effort?

Replies to: College Rankings - most useful?

  • gardenstategalgardenstategal Registered User Posts: 4,745 Senior Member
    They can be useful in terms of seeing what they think is important so you can weigh those things. Then you can figure out what matters to you. I see it like consumer reports. If i am buying a car, i may care a lot about reliability and fuel efficiency but not care so much about price, cargo room, back seat comfort, or the sound system although their rating may include all. But I might notice that they rated passenger seat comfort and that may spur me to think about whether that matters to me and I may decide it does.

    At the end of the day, it's about what you want and need that matters.
  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 Registered User Posts: 12,081 Senior Member
    Does College Navigator rank? I didn't realize.
  • ChaosParent23ChaosParent23 Registered User Posts: 230 Junior Member
    You mean as far as starting a college search?
    I can only tell you how S19 & I got started. We began w/ the USNews rankings. We went from 1 to 100 on both the Nat'l Unis & LACs & I just told him to list the ones that appealed to him. From there he had a massive list, so we started using bigfuture.org. If your child takes the SATs or PSATs, they need an account anyway. That was very helpful as far as getting the essential info like size, GPA/test scores, acceptance rates, diversity, etc. That was nice in keeping it all in one spot, & we could add or take away as he narrowed his focus. I didn't find the search feature especially helpful. It was either too narrow, or too broad depending on the factors we put in. But once we had a school in mind, it was very easy to add to his list.
    We occasionally checked out niche b/c DS liked reading what other kids thought of the schools. But we didn't really weigh that info very heavily. We also recently discovered cappex & I may use it more when our youngest is ready. I like it for the scattergram. It also has a nice feature that tells you "if you like ___ school, you may also like___."
  • CaMom13CaMom13 Registered User Posts: 842 Member
    USNews is a good place to start but people get too wound up over rankings, like #15 is truly "better school" than #20. The numeric ranking isn't going to tell you the quality of all aspects of the school, you need to dig deeper to know what the school was good "for". All schools have pros and cons. I liked using Niche, which is based on student responses. I didn't use their rankings but I did like the more subjective responses like "the typical student here is..". because it gave a more personal " profile" of a school than numbers and scores.
  • ScarletRobinScarletRobin Registered User Posts: 26 Junior Member
    I probably should have clarified...we're not using them in our search. At all. With so many now that are just pay-for-play and straight up clickbait, and knowing there are schools that game the system, it's simply name recognition for many schools. But I know there are some people that see them as the be-all, end-all. So this was for my own knowledge.

    (And no, navigator doesn't rank. But dang it's a lot easier than pulling raw IPEDS data sets!)
  • younghossyounghoss Registered User Posts: 3,118 Senior Member
    Rankings have a small degree of use for the consumer, but mostly the rankings are very useful to those that sell rankings to the consumer.
  • ColoradomamaColoradomama Registered User Posts: 2,034 Senior Member
    Rankings are somewhat more useful for medical schools, law schools, MBA programs, such as night programs and on line programs and some PhD programs like physics or chemistry, if the student wants to eventually get an academic position, the rank matters a lot in those academic science circles. Science academics put a lot of weight on the rank because they are doing the rank for the PhD sciences, and thus it matters to them. They are the ones hiring the student, so good to be aware. It has to do with publications, in part, in the sciences, and who is considered "famous" Nobel prize material. Its not about education at all, really.
  • AlmostThere2018AlmostThere2018 Registered User Posts: 931 Member
    @coloradomama -- are you saying that undergraduate science major ranking matters a lot or ranking for science PhD programs matters for those pursing those degrees? Just curious. My D is interested in bio PhD research track -- something I know little about.

    She's just a first-year so lots of time for this to play out. But the relatively little I know about navigating that world seems pretty daunting...very competitive. She's interested in academic career but also maybe biotech industry -- so at least there is a non-academic career path if the there's no jobs in academia?
  • Mom2aphysicsgeekMom2aphysicsgeek Registered User Posts: 4,341 Senior Member
    Public Honors offers some useful insight to different honors programs.
  • Akqj10Akqj10 Registered User Posts: 283 Junior Member
    WSJ/THE college rankings, from the Wall Street Journal combines LAC's and Universities all in one list, I like it for that reason, and it ranks my Daughter's College higher than some schools that wait listed her and or rejected her ; )
    The downside is that you do have to be a subscriber to view the list.
  • lastone03lastone03 Registered User Posts: 812 Member
    Forbes does a ranking of the financial health of private colleges. It's not a bad idea to take a peek at those you may be interested in.
  • rickle1rickle1 Registered User Posts: 1,310 Senior Member
    There are many ranking services using many separate criteria for their lists. Some are more data driven (admission test scores, 4 yr grad rates, starting salaries. While others are more subjective, heavily weighting survey responses grading alumni experiences, quality of teaching, etc. Of course all of them are only as valuable as the information provided. What were the stats of the students who didn't respond, schools who didn't reply to the ranking inquiry, etc?

    However, when you put many of the lists together, there seem to be a collection of schools that appear near or at the top of each list. And for many of those schools, they've been in that situation for many years. So if a school is strong in virtually every major ranking system for many years, I assume they're doing something right (in fact, many things right). Don't know that it makes them better than another schools.

    We used that approach to start our list (overall rankings, major rankings, individual criteria rankings, regional rankings - I mean you have to base it on something) and started looking at those schools of interest. We then compared that list to our local state offerings and determined what made the most sense for our situation.
  • websensationwebsensation Registered User Posts: 1,927 Senior Member
    edited December 2018
    I look at ranking that rank colleges overall and specific departments and then Niche ranking as to what students think. For general ranking, I already knew what I think are top schools, so I didn't need to look at college ranking, but I was interested in looking at department ranking and what students felt about different areas (such as academics, dorm, food, social etc.) of each college that my kid was interested in.
  • TiggerDadTiggerDad Registered User Posts: 1,752 Senior Member
    I never found any rankings or even general information provided by third-party sources to be all that useful. I find rankings to be quite entertaining, though, so I do look at them whenever they come out. When we were identifying and finalizing the list of colleges to apply to, we basically looked at each college's website to study about particular programs as well as its CDS and other info that are widely available elsewhere. In general, I do find the USNWR's graduate departmental rankings to be more reliable. As for the rankings that produce the most laugh out of me, the Times Higher Education beats everything else in the dust. :)
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