Comparing College Rankings

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With so many college rankings that work so differently, do you know which one to use in your search?

Top 10 Rankings from:

U.S. News and World Report’s Top 10 Best National Schools 2016

1. Princeton
2. Harvard
3. Yale
4. Columbia
5. Stanford
6. University of Chicago
7. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
8. Duke
9. University of Pennsylvania
10. California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

Princeton Review’s Top 10 Schools Where “Students Love These Colleges” from “Best 380 Colleges: 2016 Edition”

1. Claremont McKenna College
2. Clemson
3. Whitman
4. Virginia Tech
5. Kansas State
6. University of Dayton
7. Yale
8. Stanford
9. Middlebury
10. College of the Atlantic

Niche’s Top 10 National Colleges 2016

1. Stanford
2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
3. Yale
4. Harvard
5. Rice
6. University of Pennsylvania
7. Duke
8. Brown
9. California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
10. University of Southern California

Forbes’ Top 10 Colleges 2015

1. Pomona
2. Williams
3. Stanford
4. Princeton
5. Yale
6. Harvard
7. Swarthmore
8. Brown
9. Amherst
10. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Ranking Methodologies

U.S. News and World Report

Sample: Peer Reviews of 1,800 Institutions. 1,376 Institutions Have Enough Peer Review Data to be Ranked.


* 22.5% Undergraduate Academic Reputation
* 22.5% Retention
* 20% Faculty Resources
* 12.5% Student Selectivity
* 10% Financial Resources
* 7.5% Graduation Rate Performance
* 5% Alumni Giving Rate
Guiding Principles of Assessment
* Peer Review
* Institution-based
* Quantitative Analysis of School Quality

Most Useful?

For students, faculty, and administrators who want to gauge the reputation of institutions where they work or might want to work.

Princeton Review

Sample: 136,000 students at 380 institutions. About 15% of those institutions aren’t ranked.


* 80+ question survey accounts for student opinion of 8 areas of college experience: 1) Academics/Administration, 2) Quality of Life, 3) Politics, Demographics, 4) Town Life, 5) Extracurriculars, 6) Social Scene, and 7) Schools By Type.
* 380 schools are scored and then ranked according to student feedback about the “Best” and “Worst” parts of their college experience.
* 62 individuated ranking lists that Princeton Review Publishes.
Guiding Principles of Assessment
* Consensus of Opinion
* Student-based
* Qualitative Analysis of School Quality

Most Useful?

For high school and undergraduate students who are trying to decide which institutions best fit their personal and collegiate interests.


Sample: 1,713 traditional four-year colleges. Grade 1,583 of those sampled. Rank 1,164 of those graded.


* 25% Academics Grade
* 25% Value Grade
* 10% Professors Grade
* 10% Student Surveys on Overall Experience
* 7.5% Diversity Grade
* 7.5% Student Life Grade
* 5% Athletics Grade
* 5% Campus Quality Grade
* 2.5% Local Area Grade
* 2.5% Safety Grade

Guiding Principles of Assessment:

* Student and Community Review
* Hard Data-Based
* Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis both Grades and Ranks School Performance

Most Useful?

For both students and families who are trying to find their personal and professional niche within local and college communities.


Sample: 650 Four-Year Undergraduate and/or Graduate Degree Awarding Institutions.


* 25% Student Satisfaction
* 32.5% Post-Graduate Success
* 25% Student Debt
* 7.5% Graduation Rate
* 10% Academic Success

Guiding Principle of Assessment:

* Return on Investment (ROI) for the Student.

Most Useful?

For students who want high-earning careers and administrators who want to gauge the success of their own institution relative to others for consumers.


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