An article in The Wall Street Journal, Time to Upend College Rankings? weighs in on various criteria to rank colleges and universities. In short, it says that college needs new and better ranking criteria.


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“Student-faculty ratios, graduation rates and cost of attendance all are valid measures of a school’s quality – and are central criteria used in many popular college rankings.

But as families grow more concerned about high tuition costs and low job-placement rates, a new ranking system is betting they’ll be more interested in alumni outcomes. That is, the school’s success in graduating men and women who are prepared to meet the demands of today’s job market and workplace.”

I always thought that some of the criteria used to rank top research universities and other higher education institutions are rather strange, to say the least.

The article in the Wall Street Journal announces the launching of a new website called The Alumni Factor.

“The Alumni Factor research listened to the people who’ve been overlooked in popular college rankings–THE ALUMNI. Tens of thousands of college graduates reported their actual outcomes–career success, financial success, and happiness. The Alumni Factor ranks and compares 177 top schools.”

“For the first time evaluate a college based on its graduates!”

According to The Alumni Factor, the top five winners are Washington & Lee University, Yale University, Princeton University, Rice University and College of the Holy Cross. They based their research on data from 42,000 alumni and they found these alumni without the schools’ help. Some top Ivy League universities, e.g. University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University, don’t even make the top 50. Harvard University lands the 37th spot. (Harvard is a perennial pick on other lists. Except, the recent scandal with over 150 students cheating on their exams, may move Harvard lower on other lists too.)

The article from the Wall Street Journal mentions also the issue of quality control. And they give as an example the administrators at Claremont McKenna College and Emory University who “were found to have fudged admissions data, such as SAT scores, GPAs and the like, which resulted in higher rankings for those schools.”

An interesting article, which may predict that some needed changes in the way higher education schools are ranked, will soon take place.

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