Personal college ranking

Kid 1:

  • Friendly, noncompetitive people
  • Small
  • Smart student body
  • Interesting classes and professors
  • No or little Greek life

Kid 2:

  • Fun, relaxed people
  • Not intellectual
  • Big time sports (didn’t get that, haha)
  • Not small
  • Nice campus (mostly got that with the exception of a hideous building right in the middle of campus)
  • Greek life of some sort, but not too much

Both kids compromised a lot from what they thought they wanted at the start to what they ended up getting. Bottom line, both cared a lot about their fellow students.


Kid 1:
–Preferred urban, mid-sized schools.
–Undergrad b-school with direct entry.
–Not heavily Greek.
–Collaborative student body.

Kid 2:
–Really wanted a LAC.
–Strength in STEM majors.
–Collaborative student body.
–Flexible general ed requirements (she had specific areas of interest not alligned with her major and wanted the freedom to pursue coursework in those areas).

Thankfully both kids ended up at a schools that were a great fit.


From experience, here’s some of the things that ended up mattering for our kids (not for their selection of college but what made a difference in college:

  • Endowment per student. You could really see where the schools with more were able to provide better student opportunities and response better to Covid, etc.

  • Ratio of students who receive grants or paid research opportunities

  • Whether (and what ratio) the school provides paid work opportunities regardless of work study status. This was a huge benefit to one of our kids over the other based on their schools. Too many schools reserve jobs only for work student and those jobs often offer experience opportunities beyond pay that non-work study are shut out of.

  • Ratio of tenured professors teaching undergraduate courses. Too many schools relying on adjuncts that float in and out of system instead of stable professors who have the time to fully develop a stable curriculum and hone their lectures.

  • Class size. Yes some school manipulate it, but there really is no substitute for small classes taught by full professors who give 1:1 time to undergraduate students.

  • Outcome specific to related major or field. Too many of the post-grad salary comparisons don’t take into account career, so STEM-heavy schools are favored and even if you’re at one of the you have no idea how grads in non-STEM fields fare. It would be great to see what a grad in English makes 5 years out versus typical grads of that major. Or even better, what a grad that goes into consulting or p.r. or teaching, etc. makes versus the average grad.

  • Ratio of students who report successfully getting summer internships. Internships are almost, in some cases more important, than the degree for many fields and its an extremely uneven playing field.

  • Ratio of graduates seeking additional degrees (grad school or professional) who end up in highly rated schools in those categories.

  • I would still put a minor amount of weight on a combo of selectivity and yield. Yes it can be gamed to an extent, but even when it is it tends to come to reflect reality – consider NE, which is now a legitimately popular school despite its rise being entirely manipulated. I know first hand that come employers are sensitive to selective schools.