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U.S. News & World Report has been compiling a list of best American Colleges and Universities since 1983. This ranking is based on the data collected from the educational institutions through annual surveys sent to each of these schools.
Data is also collected from websites of these colleges and opinion surveys of faculty and administrators not belonging to the college.
The first college rankings of U.S. News & World Report was published in 1984 but since then, they have been published regularly.
Ranking Criteria and Methodology
The method applied for compiling these rankings has changed many times over. The data is also not made public. Due to this reason, a few other rankings also arose and challenged the rankings assigned by them.
The hierarchy of colleges and universities created by U.S. News & World Report is very strict. Ranking is not assigned in groups but on individual basis. There are significant changes in the rankings every year. The highest tier assigned by them report is Tier 1 and the lowest tier is Tier 4.
The U.S. News and World Report Rankings are assigned according to the following criteria:
- A survey is conducted among the presidents and deans of other institutions. Its weight age is 15%.
- A survey of the institution’s standing among other high school guidance counselors.
- A survey of retention rate of first year students and graduation. The weightage is 20%.
- A survey of average class size, salary of faculty, degree level of faculty, student faculty ratio and full-time faculty proportion. Its weightage is 20%.
- A survey of scores of students admitted and proportion of students in higher percentiles of high school classes. Also the number of applicants accepted. Its weightage is 15 %.
- A survey of per student spending. The weightage is 10%.
- A survey of expected rate of graduation and actual rate of graduation. The weightage is 7.5 %
- Alumini rate. The weightage is 5%.
U.S. News & World Report determines the ranking according to statistical weights. These statistics change year to year.
Critics say that they change the methodology and rankings every year in order to sell more magazines.
The New York Times reported that the methodology employed by U.S. News and World report could compile only predictable results. In 1999, a more statistically valid formula was developed by Amy Graham which resulted in California Institute of Technology jumping to the highest place rather than Harvard, Yale or Princeton.
Some education experts argue that U.S. News and World Report’s college ranking is only a list of criteria and cannot be considered as an actual ranking since it is deeply flawed. The ranking system does not focus on the basic issues like how well the students are educated and how they are groomed for success after college.
Apart from this criticism, it was shown in a research conducted by the University of Michigan that U.S. News and World Report has a lasting impact on students as well as faculty and deans of other colleges.
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