Universities Ranked by Prestige

<p>Media buzz is tricky, but the measurement factor isn't especially challenging when it comes to filtering out false positives. I used Newsbank, which gives much better coverage and functionality than something like Google pass and did a few stages of refinement to make things work right. So, in the case of Princeton, my search accepted anything that matched the literal "Princeton University" as well as any document that included the words Princeton and university or professor within 40 words of each other. In all likelihood, I erred slightly on the side of having too few rather than too many results, but spot checks reveal essentially no false positives.</p>

<p>As for how media mentions relate to prestige, it's much more straightforward for universities than restaurants. McDonald's gets a lot more mentions than haute cuisine because it's such a large restaurant and important business, which is not interchangeable in the case of food. For universities, however, importance ties closely to prestige. Most news coverage of universities takes one of several forms: "Researchers at MIT discovered...", "In a new book, Joe Smith of Harvard....", "In a speech at Yale....", or "John Doe, CEO of Mega Company X, received his MBA from Stanford...." etc. To be sure, there are occasional events or scandals which result in a lot of of news coverage of particular universities (e.g., the Tech shootings), so this is why it would be a rather poor idea to produce a ranking solely based on news coverage.</p>

<p>Within the sample ranked above, however, I glanced through the top news hit for each university and the coverage was generally positive and not connected to single events. The level of media coverage also closely parallels intuitive quality judgments. Ranking exclusively on media coverage, we would get:
1. MIT
2. Harvard
3. Columbia
4. Stanford
5. Yale
6. Berkeley
7. Johns Hopkins
8. Chicago
9. NYU
10. Texas</p>

<p>The only one on that list that's at all unexpected is Texas and NYU does a bit better than I would tend to expect, but that alone would be a reasonable top 10 prestige list. The fact of the matter is that public opinion is largely shaped by the media and most media coverage of universities is positive. Thus, colleges that are in the media the most have the most prestige.</p>

<p>I disagree that general public opinion of colleges is shaped by the media. When it comes to general public opinion, it IS a) sports prowess / presence and b) proximity that shape perceptions. Prestige is SO regional. </p>

<p>And Joe Q. Public is not paying one whit to whether the CEO of XYZ Company got his MBA from Stanford. Really. You are overstating the concerns of most Americans.</p>



<p>This is at least the 3rd or 4th time I've heard you say something along these lines. You need newer material.</p>

<p>Try a list that is informed by student happiness--somehow, more meaningful, I think, especially because happiness (food, professorial access, administrative flexibility, freshmen retention, student (attempted) suicide rate (or, moreover, lack of a suicide rate), collaborative learning, geography, size, ease of housing, political life or lack of one, etc.) affects performance.</p>

<p>In crafting such a list, you might be amazed as to what drops off or moves down/up the list.</p>

<p>Pizzagirl, I don't think you're quite right there. If public opinion is so shaped by sports prowess, then why do Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and MIT have such great public reputations? Why is the Ivy League and not the SEC considered the most elite group of schools? If prestige is SO regional, then why do people from California still think HYP are great schools?</p>

<p>People don't pay that much attention to where Joe Q. Public got his MBA, but the cumulative effect builds up. People respect the universities they see favorably in the media. All that times that you read "Researchers at MIT discovered" add up and give you a favorable impression of MIT, and every time you hear about a successful person who went to Stanford, it incrementally increases your opinion of Stanford.</p>

<p>I'm not familiar with any work on colleges as such, but research in sociology and psychology have proved this over and over again. The more good things you hear about an institution/brand/person, the more you tend to like it. That's so overwhelmingly intuitive, that I find it hard to believe I'm even saying it. "Liking" a college in that way translates into prestige for it. As a matter of fact, this even explains why prestige has regional components. People who live in Michigan hear a lot more about the accomplishments at the University of Michigan than people who live in Texas do, and vice versa.</p>

<p>SWHarborfan, the happiness rankings are already out there. As I said above, all that I'm trying to rank is prestige. I'm not saying that prestige should be the dominant factor in anyone's college choice.</p>

<p><<i'm not="" saying="" that="" prestige="" should="" be="" the="" dominant="" factor="" in="" anyone's="" college="" choice.=""></i'm></p>

<p>I'm not saying that you were (were you?). I'm merely saying that such a thoughtful list would be interesting, esp. as it relates to the (very silly/worthless, frankly) prestige list.</p>

<p>Wake Forest, Boston College, William & Mary, Tufts all have to be in top 30 for any prestige list to be legit.</p>

<p>swish... why? None of those schools has enough Ph.D. production to make it into the top 30...</p>

<p>If prestige correlated to undergraduate excellence, then Williams, Swarthmore, Amherst, Bowdoin, Wellesley, Pomona, Carleton, et. al would need to be included as well, but it isn't.</p>

<p>Potatoes, somehow, the pieces seem to have fallen in the right places. I would drop MIT one or two notches though. Harvard is the undisputed prestige heavyweight.</p>

<p><<<tufts all="" have="" to="" be="" in="" top="" 30="" for="" any="" prestige="" list="" legit.="">>></tufts></p>

<p>But definitely! </p>

<p><<<swish... why?="" none="" of="" those="" schools="" has="" enough="" ph.d.="" production="" to="" make="" it="" into="" the="" top="" 30...="">>></swish...></p>

<p>an erroneous statement; Tufts has Phd programs a-plenty, from the bio-sciences to the humanities. What drivel.</p>

<p>OP, good list except that I would exchange MIT and Harvard, as well as, Berkeley and Columbia places. Columbia is quite prestigious, but I don't think that, in general, it is more prestigious than UC Berkeley. Brown should not be in the top 15. I'd replace that with Michigan. I'd bump Northwestern up too. And, NO school on earth is more prestigious than Harvard. But I haven't read your methodology yet.</p>

<p>"Wake Forest, Boston College, William & Mary, Tufts all have to be in top 30 for any prestige list to be legit."</p>

<p>Wake Forest is #40. It really doesn't perform well in any category. W&M is #39 held back largely by a low revealed preference and academic score. Tufts is #36, and does ok but not great in all of the categories.</p>

<p>As for the LACs mentioned, I only ran the formula on national universities. Another formula would have to be developed for LACs as some elements of this one would not be applicable to those schools.</p>

<p>As for MIT coming out on top. I personally tend to think MIT is more prestigious, and it beats Harvard in just about every category. They tie in peer assessments (at first place), Harvard wins the WSJ ranking (but probably because less MIT kids are interested in those programs), MIT wins on the graduate program assessments, Harvard slightly edges MIT out on the revealed preferences, and MIT beats Harvard when it comes to media buzz. MIT, after all, does have a reputation as the place you go to become a science genius, which carries a lot of prestige.</p>

<p>I think that movies and media are adding up to school's prestige.</p>

<p>Schools often mentioned on movies, tv, media, prints:</p>


<p>If prestige is based merely off familiarity and being mentioned in movies / TV / etc., then it is MEANINGLESS. It is merely familiarity and top-of-mind awareness. At least then be honest and say that the measure is which schools have broadest top of mind awareness, rather than say which schools are most prestigious. These are two entirely different things.</p>

<p>I'm not measuring top of the mind awareness. It should be obvious that some very well-known schools did poorly in the rankings. Prestige is the combination of awareness and esteem. As I've said, media mentions are just a proxy, but I am of the opinion, that they are a very good one, and I think that most people would agree that the rankings produced are basically what you would expect.</p>

<p>"I think that movies and media are adding up to school's prestige."</p>

<p>Transformers 2 was filmed in UPenn's campus. Not gonna lie, that's what got me interested in checking it out and learning about it. I'm sure it's helped other people learn about it too</p>

<p>No, prestige is not a combination of broad awareness and esteem. It is esteem among those who count. The masses don't have taste or knowledge.</p>

<p>I would add Caltech, Cornell, Georgetown, Michigan and Notre Dame to universities often mentioned in movies. For example, Michigan was mentioned in over 20 movies, including the following:</p>

<p>Air Force One
American Pie
Big Chill
Eyes Wide Shut
Good Will Hunting
The Program

<p>Pizzagirl, I agree with you. I am not impressed if a university is prestigious among 18 or 19 year old children or among the averagely educated masses. I am far more interested in what faculty at top universities, leading intellectuals and corporate leaders think. The PA of the USNWR is a pretty good indication of what faculty and leading intectuals think...and matches potatoes prestige ranking relatively well. There is no ptrestige ranking that reflects the opinion of corporate leaders.</p>

<p>Movies may play a marginal role in increasing university prestige among the broad public, but only some of them. Movies where the prestige and quality are a plot point tend to, I think slightly generate college prestige. For example, in the movie 21, the intelligence of MIT students and the desirability of going to Harvard Medical School are both significant plot points. This may do something for Harvard's prestige. Similarly, in The Girl Next Door, the protagonist is depicted as very smart and one of his key desires is to go to Georgetown. This may do something for Georgetown's prestige, though again only with the broad public. On the other hand, a movie like the Exorcist, set and filmed at and around Georgetown, doesn't do much to boost Georgetown's prestige. I'd argue that a film like Legally Blonde doesn't do much for Harvard, but we could debate that. A lot of college movies are all about drinking and sex; being depicted in those probably has, if anything, a negative effect on prestige - which is probably why many are set at fictional universities.</p>

<p>On the whole, though, I don't think that which universities are in the movies says much about prestige. If anything, it reflects rather than defines prestige.</p>