Confused about rankings





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Discus: College Search and Selection: April 2004 Archive: Confused about rankings
By Skulkarni1 (Skulkarni1) on Sunday, April 25, 2004 - 11:04 am: Edit

ok i'm a little lost. a lot of people on this board say "this school is better for sciences." how does anyone know? like is there a ranking for each department on like U.S news or something? what makes one school "better" for pre-med then another? like i know there are undergraduate rankings, but like, for example ive heard that northwestern is like "the best" for engineering and like JHU is "the best" for premed. this is all what i've heard though. like is there a different set of rankings that i don't know about? hwo do people come upw ith which one's better?

By Shennie (Shennie) on Sunday, April 25, 2004 - 11:18 am: Edit

I think most of it is a matter of opinion. Sure, we know that Harvard is better at science than XYZ State College. But there is no undergraduate rankings for college departments. Graduate school departments are ranked, but there is often a lot of variation between graduate and undergraduate education offered at the same school. Some schools are known for being strong science schools, but it is a matter of opinion rather than any kind of ranking.

By Reebster (Reebster) on Sunday, April 25, 2004 - 11:33 am: Edit

Well, there ARE undergraduate departmental rankings but they need to be searched out and they may not even be as reliable as the unreliable US News rankings.

Try Googling them. There was also an interesting book called the Gourman Report a few years ago that rated undergrad departments. It is probably hard to find now, if your guidance counselr does not have it maybe Amazon does.

By Reidmc (Reidmc) on Sunday, April 25, 2004 - 06:33 pm: Edit

It is very hard to compare undergraduate departments qualitatively, and impossible to usefully rank them.

But it is not so hard to review the breadth of course offerings and ratios of faculty to students majoring in a given subject at a given school. Also, many schools either emphasize a particular department or program in their communication materials, or as Shennie notes above, are "known" for certain departments or programs. Factor in the overall UNDERGRADUATE academic reputation and maybe faculty degrees and you can get some pretty good ideas of strong departments at various schools.

Along with Gourman, there is a book called the College Finder that is based on some reasonably good survey research. It doesn't rank undergraduate departments, but does indentify good ones.

By Masterchris (Masterchris) on Sunday, April 25, 2004 - 06:48 pm: Edit

Things like reputation and grad school rankings. grad students in many fields like science take many classes in the same department as undergrads, do thats why their rankings are used for undergrads sometimes.


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