Check These College Ranking Options: Part 2

Dave Berry shares more information about the various college ranking lists.

Glad you brought this up. I believe the USNWR rankings are way too biased with private colleges and skews heavily on academics. I refer more to ■■■■■■■■■ which ranks the many aspects of college, not just academics. After all, college is not only about academics, but the entire experience.

Niche, if anything, is worse that USNWR at getting caught up in “prestige”. It is FAR worse than USNWR at providing far more weight to indicators of wealth than to quality of a program. I do not think that there is a single category of ranking for which Niche doesn’t give the wealthiest colleges an extra bump.

For heaven’s sake, Niche ranks Vanderbilt higher in engineering than it does Cornell, and WashU as better in engineering than Northwestern or U Michigan! Niche also tries to fit Harvard in the top 20 for any field, even if Harvard doesn’t have that major

I’ve showed the Niche ranking of engineering programs to engineers, and they are split between “WTH?!!” and laughing long and loudly.

So Niche is absolutely useless for any ranking. It has some good info on individual college, though.

The Money ranking suffers from issues of data quality and some needless factors. There is the issue of “Peer quality” - how does that affect the “value” of the college? It seems to be no more than a way to give the more “prestigious” colleges a boost in the rankings.

Their data regarding early career earnings is not very good. “Payscale” is not collecting data in a way which allows using their data for this purpose. Their data set is neither representative, nor is it random. Yet about 30%+ of the score given by “Money” is based on this data set.

There are also issues with the College Scoreboard data, because of the bias in response rate.

On the other hand, Money’s list is a great source for average actual cost, graduation rate, and average debt of graduates.

In short, these are good sources of info, bad ranking systems.