Saturday, August 16, 2008

America's Best Colleges, as given by Forbes

As much as I hate to make fun of any ranking that puts Princeton at #1, I (along with readers of IvyGate) find myself very concerned about how Forbes compiled this list. Calling themselves the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, they take into account the following five criteria:

1. Listing of Alumni in the 2008 Who's Who in America (25%)

2. Student Evaluations of Professors from (25%)

3. Four- Year Graduation Rates (16 2/3%)

4. Enrollment-adjusted numbers of students and faculty receiving nationally competitive awards (16 2/3%)

5. Average four year accumulated student debt of those borrowing money (16 2/3%)

Hm. Analysis after the jump.

  1. One thing I notice from the comments is that a lot of people seem to be confusing the publication Who's Who in America with Who's Who Among American High School Students and related publishing scams.

    The latter comes in the mail to most high school and college students (I wish I could remember what the college version was called now, but I'm afraid my trashcan swallowed it up rather quickly), and doesn't actually mean anything. In fact I'd be rather ashamed of my school if we ranked #1 on the list of Most Likely To Fall For Scams Playing On Our Considerable Vanity.

    I believe that Forbes, on the other hand, consults the directories published by Marquis Who's Who. Rankings are always subjective, of course, but at least this one has some actual value.

  2. I get that they want to take a new approach to college rankings, look at it from a student's perspective, but I'm just not sure if does the trick.

    Actually, I'm really sure it doesn't do the trick. Next.

  3. Well, at least that's nice. If you enroll in a college, you probably want to graduate, and hopefully on time. It comprises a rather big percentage, but I accept that this is an important factor of a college's quality.

  4. Awards are good too, I like awards. On this page, the CCAP explains that they're talking about awards like Rhodes Scholarships and Nobel Prizes. I think that's great! But wouldn't you think that this was more important than Who's Who?

  5. Finally, the average accumulated student debt. I'm slightly worried about how this figure might be skewed in favor of wealthy students (who may not need to borrow at all), but Princeton does brag about its financial aid program, and who knows, that might be what's doing the trick for us.