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College Admissions Rankings – US News & World Report

Ross Blankenship (Education, Admissions Expert) Addresses the US News and World Report Rankings.

The current college ranking systems provide an easy way for prospective students to see how one institution ranks against another. This can make for a simple way to see which colleges will provide the best education. At least that is what the ranking system is supposed to do. In recent years though there has been some criticism regarding the methodologies used to rank colleges.

In this article we will talk about the current system of college rankings. We will cover what the current ranking system is, and talk a little about the criticisms of the methodologies used for admissions rankings.

What Are Admissions Rankings Generally

Before we talk about what is good about the current system and what is not, it is important to understand how colleges are currently ranked in the United States. It is also important to know that there is more than one ranking system available such as Webometrics.

The methodology that most of us are familiar with is the ratings that are given by the US News. This system has been around since 1983, and each year the ratings for colleges change. The US News ranks scores each institution with a score between 1 and 100, with 100 being the best, and they separate the schools into 4 tiers. The “best schools” are listed as tier 1.

The ratings are based on gathered data that take into account the following factors:

Peer Assessment Reputation of the school based on a survey of presidents, provosts, and deans from other institutions.

Retention The graduation rate over a 6-year period, and the retention rate of first year students.

Student Selectivity A combination of data based on: test scores of students, the percentage of top percentile students admitted, and the student acceptance rate as a whole.

Faculty Resources Data that includes the student-faculty ratio, the average salary of faculty members, and the education level of the faculty.

Financial Resources Average tuition rates per-student.

Graduation Rate Performance The difference between what the expected rate of graduation was and what the actual graduation rate turned out to be.

Alumni Giving Rate The amount of money received from donations by alumni.

The first four elements on the list account for 80% of the total score. Peer assessment alone makes 25% of the rating, and that is where most of the criticism of the US News ranking system comes in to play.

The Good and the Bad of U.S. News Rankings

In recent years there has been some criticism of the current rating system. It has been said that with the weighting given to peer assessment, student selectivity, and faculty resources that it becomes easy to pick which schools will come out on top. The largest schools and the richest schools will win out over the smaller colleges every time, regardless of the actual education that a student can expect to receive from the institution.

Looking at the historical data, these statements are true to a certain degree. Schools like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton always end up on top of the list along with several Ivies like Cornell and Penn. Some suggest that, to get a true measure of school performance, the ratings should give a larger weighting to factors related to graduation rates, salaries after graduation, and student performance in the long run.

Even with the criticisms, the current college ranking system does provide a method for students to see how their chosen (or prospective) institution ranks against similar colleges in the country. It provides a simple method to see where they can expect a top-rated education, and where they will be getting a second tier education.

It is likely that prospective students should still talk to an college admissions counselor, before making their final decisions. But, with the US News and their admissions rankings, those students do have a simple place to start when looking for the best schools in the country.

This was written by Ross Blankenship, an admissions expert and college admissions counselor. For inquiries, please call (800) 501-Prep. Ross Blankenship is the Founder of Top Test Prep, which offers SAT and ACT prep for students applying to colleges.

Top Test Prep provides private tutoring and admissions consulting to students and parents across America.

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