Expanding on my earlier post, a comparison of the Niche student survey results for Berkeley and UCLA is below. The combination of all survey categories makes up a good chuck of the weighting in the overall college ranking. In the student survey portion, UCLA does significantly better than Berkeley in all categories I checked except academics. The difference in survey ratings no doubt contributes to the difference in rankings between the 2 schools, with UCLA being ranked higher.
Overall Experience --UCLA = 51% Excellent, Berkeley = 39% Excellent
Academics – UCLA = 22% Excellent, Berkeley = 24% Excellent
Student Life – UCLA = 19% Excellent, Berkeley = 15% Excellent
Campus – UCLA = 24% Excellent, Berkeley = 14% Excellent
Value – UCLA = 20% Excellent, Berkeley = 16% Excellent
All Categories Combined – UCLA = 28% Excellent, Berkeley = 19% Excellent
The Niche student survey ratings appear to be informal and self-reported without verification. It would be easy for someone to manipulate this survey and change the ranking of schools by submitting large number of fake reviews. The sample size is also concerning, particularly for small schools. For example, only 11 people ranked Harvey Mudd in the academics category. Only 12 ranked Caltech and 19 ranked Williams. It’s nice that they have reviews in which students can describe what they liked and disliked about the school and can give a general rating. However, giving those ratings a lot of power to influence the overall college rankings is problematic.