college rankings?

I’ve been using us news to compare colleges, but I’ve head some people say that it is unreliable when it comes to ranking schools, and I’ve been noticing that too. What college ranking site is the more reliable? Thanks!

There are no ‘gold standard’ college ranking sites which is how US News gets away with their visibility. What you need to do is look at the factors they are using to rank schools (like alumni giving) and decide if that factor matters to you and if so, how much. You can be sure that the difference between a school that is ranked 10th and 15th is absolutely meaningless. What would be useful? Getting information from a variety of sources and developing an overall sense of whether the place is a good fit for you, given your specific interests and constraints.

One can no easier rank colleges than on can rank countries. There are too many variables and any methodology gets murky. I do like the surveys that the Princeton Review publishes, where one can zero in on particular facets of the schools.

Some people believe US News is biased against state universities. They think schools like Berkeley or Michigan should be ranked higher than, say, Vanderbilt or Brown. If you agree, then use another ranking (for example, one of the international rankings, whose criteria favor research productivity.)

Other people think US News should give more weight to “outcomes”. If you agree, then consider the Forbes rankings (which use factors such as average alumni earnings and PhD completion rates). However, the Forbes results aren’t all that different than the USNWR results. They both pick pretty similar sets of top colleges (except that Forbes mingles universities with LACs in a single list).

If two different undergraduate-focused rankings, using very different methods, arrive at nearly the same set of “top” colleges, I’d say this is evidence (not conclusive proof, but evidence) that each has identified approximately the right set of top colleges. When you look at a third ranking then a fourth (say, Kiplinger’s and, and they all point to a similar set of top schools, then I think the burden starts to fall on the critics to come up with a plausible alternative, one that points to a different set of top colleges (and doesn’t include, in particular, the Ivies and the NESCAC schools … or that doesn’t identify Berkeley, Michigan, and UVa as some of the top state schools). Or at least identify the factor(s) that are biasing all these rankings toward rather similar results.

@tk21769, mostly the same. Not quite.

Notice where Forbes ranks UMich and UVa vs. Vandy and WashU compared to USN.