Aug 1, 2014
How Do College Rankings Compare?
College rankings publications have grown in quantity, scope, and popularity in recent years. These publications – with different methodologies and measures – have a variety of goals and target audiences. They also reflect the data (or lack thereof) that are currently available to explain institutional characteristics and performance. Different audiences may want to evaluate colleges for different purposes, using different criteria. This memo compares the measures used in five recently released college rankings publications:
Forbes “America’s Top Colleges" measures student satisfaction, post-graduate success, and student debt.
Money “Best Colleges for your Money” measures quality of education, affordability, outcomes, and value added.
The New York Times “The Most Economically Diverse Top Colleges” measures colleges’ economic diversity.
U.S. News and World Report “Best Colleges” measures undergraduate academic reputation, retention, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, graduate rate performance, alumni giving rate.
Washington Monthly “National Universities” measures social mobility, research activity, and community service.
We plan to update this document as the included rankings systems make methodological or data element changes, and as new rankings lists emerge.
to read the full analysis and see how the rankings compare.