Friday, August 7, 2009

Forbes says Princeton is #2

August, as you may have noticed, is college ranking season and a fresh set of numbers released marking Forbes magazine's second annual report on America's Best Colleges. Forbes, whose editor in chief is Steve Forbes '70, debuted their ratings last year and declared America's best college to be...Princeton University.

This year the mighty have fallen to #2, replaced by the United States Military Academy in the top spot. Princeton did not make the list of top 100 Best College Buys in terms of affordability.

The top ten:
1 United States Military Academy
2 Princeton University
3 California Institute of Technology
4 Williams College
5 Harvard University
6 Wellesley College
7 United States Air Force Academy
8 Amherst College
9 Yale University
10 Stanford University

Forbes bases their rankings on course evaluations on (25%), post-graduate success as determined by entries in Who's Who in America and the average salary of graduates reported by (25%), estimated student debt (20%), four year college graduation rates (17%) and number of students or faculty who have won nationally competitive awards (13%).

There are several potential methodological problems with Forbes' rankings. The large reliance on sites like and suggests their data is more reliable and scientific then it is in reality. (discussed here) uses self reported data, not randomized surveys, and it is limited to respondents whose highest degree is a Bachelors. As over 20% of the class of 2008 entered some form of graduate education immediately upon graduation, and more will do so in years to come, limiting the data to those only those with Bachelor's will systematically bias the results. also relies on self-reporting and may be damaged by the fact that some schools, such as Princeton, have their own internal ranking systems. Forbes has tried to correct for that by weighting results by student evaluation and not professor.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps Princeton should be #2 if its students cannot spell "competitive" right.

Phead128 said...

oh "bias"

Anonymous said...

In the first sentence of your second paragraph, it should be "than," not "then."