USNews has shown his (new) ugly head again!





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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: USNews has shown his (new) ugly head again!
By Xiggi (Xiggi) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 02:04 pm: Edit

If you are enjoying reading the rankings offered by USNEWS, they have become available. The premium login for 2004 has been disabled.

If you are curious, there are few salient changes. The good news: the rankings will boost the egos of the parents of Smith. Brown, Swarthmore. The bad news: the rankings are as dumb and biased as ever.

The last column shows the 2005 ranking and the list follows last year's order.

1 Williams College (MA) 1
2 Amherst College (MA) 2
3 Swarthmore College (PA) 2 :)
4 Carleton College (MN) 5
4 Pomona College (CA) 5
4 Wellesley College (MA) 4
7 Davidson College (NC) 7
7 Middlebury College (VT) 11
9 Haverford College (PA) 9
10 Bowdoin College (ME) 7
11 Wesleyan University (CT) 9 ???
12 Claremont McKenna College (CA) 13
13 Washington and Lee University (VA) 13
14 Vassar College (NY) 12
15 Grinnell College (IA) 16
15 Smith College (MA) 13 :)
17 Bryn Mawr College (PA)
17 Colby College (ME) 19
17 Colgate University (NY) 16
17 Harvey Mudd College (CA) 16
21 Hamilton College (NY) 19

1 Harvard University (MA) 1
1 Princeton University (NJ) 1
3 Yale University (CT) 3
4 Massachusetts Inst. of Technology 5
5 California Institute of Technology 8 ??
5 Duke University (NC) 5
5 Stanford University (CA) 5
5 University of Pennsylvania 4
9 Dartmouth College (NH) 9
9 Washington University in St. Louis 11
11 Columbia University (NY) 9
11 Northwestern University (IL) 11
13 University of Chicago 14
14 Cornell University (NY) 14
14 Johns Hopkins University (MD) 14
16 Rice University (TX) 17
17 Brown University (RI) 13 :)
18 Emory University (GA)
19 University of Notre Dame (IN) 18
Vanderbilt University (TN)

By Dstark (Dstark) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 02:09 pm: Edit

Where is Michigan? Barnard? Occidental?
Penn over Stanford? No way.

By Xiggi (Xiggi) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 02:15 pm: Edit

Michigan is 22
Barnard is 29

By Ohmadre (Ohmadre) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 02:25 pm: Edit

Wesleyan 9th - makes sense actually.

By Barrons (Barrons) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 02:34 pm: Edit

Linky

http://www.usnews.com/usnews/edu/college/rankings/brief/natudoc/tier1/t1natudoc_brief.php

By Dstark (Dstark) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 02:39 pm: Edit

Is the issue worth buying? Any interesting articles?

By Alan5 (Alan5) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 02:44 pm: Edit

Northeastern is now tier II. The school has worked very hard to break out of the third tier.

By Dstark (Dstark) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 02:48 pm: Edit

Alan, there isn't a tier 2. Tier 1, now.
The school is improving.

By Sybbie719 (Sybbie719) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 02:51 pm: Edit

Its All semantics (another marketing ploy as people feel better about tier 2 vs tier 3). In the past tier one used to be comprised of the top 50 schools, tier 2 was 51 to 100. Last year tier one became 100 schools, tier 2 became 101 +

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 02:51 pm: Edit

No, do not buy it!!!

When my D was applying, I just skimmed it in the bookstore. Personally, I don't like the rankings so I'm not going to support US News by buying the issue.

By Dstark (Dstark) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 02:54 pm: Edit

Sybbie, I know they changed it. So what?
It is all BS anyway.

By Idler (Idler) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 02:57 pm: Edit

Thanks for the post Xiggi. Swathmore fell from 1 to 3, and now back to tied for 2. What a ride!

Of the many lists, I think the best is the Laissez-faire list, available for free on the CC homepage.

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 03:24 pm: Edit

I don't think that Swarthmore's ranking will impact the ego of many Swat parents at all. Williams, Amherst, and Swat have swapped the top ranking around for 20 years, depending on the criteria used for the mathmatical calculations. The ranking of these three schools played zero role in my daugther's selection of one over another.

To be blunt, anyone who chooses a school based on a one-position difference in ranking on the USNEWS chart is a fool. Numeric distinctions between tightly grouped colleges in these ranking are meaningless. That's not really how the USNEWS rankings should be used.

BTW, I would absolutely buy this issue and subscribe to the on-line edition while college hunting. It provides an incredibly useful collection of information. For example, the selectivity data (SAT scores, acceptance rates), and info on the student body (size, diversity, etc.) is extremely valuable. I also think the peer assessment survey is the best avaialable measure of 'convevntional wisdom' in the academic community (although biased a bit towards the two coasts and somewhat of a lagging indicator of perception).

By Mini (Mini) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 03:34 pm: Edit

Anyone who wants to study music intensively or play serious sports and decides to go to Swarthmore because they rose half a spot in the rankings would be a fool. Or go to Williams to study romance languages, or Yale to study abroad, or Wellesley to join a fraternity. Poor, poor Middlebury - no longer a top 10, sniff, sniff, sniff.

(won't buy it. What I need is a non-athletic ranking of the 116 schools with women's gymnastics and film departments.)

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 03:42 pm: Edit

Bingo!

I don't think anything about the quality of Swat's education has changed in the last decade (except maybe the fact that they dropped their crappy football team).

I don't think anything has changed at Williams except maybe it's a little larger.

I don't think anything has changed at Amherst except maybe they are emphasizing diversity a bit more.

Basically, these three colleges are the same as they have been for decades. The last fundamental change at any of them came when Williams and Amherst decided to enroll women 35 years ago. Any parent should be ecstatic to have their offspring educated at any of the three. Any choice would boil down to differences that have NOTHING to do with numeric data or statistical rankings.

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 04:01 pm: Edit

I agree the issues provide good objective info. But until US News drops the arbitrary ranking 1-2-3, I refuse to spend my $$ to contribute to rankings hysteria.

By Arcadia (Arcadia) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 04:54 pm: Edit

Middlebury fell mainly due to its faculty resouces score and its alumni giving rate. You know as well as I do that the same 12 or so schools have flipflopped around the 4-11 places every year. I mean really--last year Bowdoin was #10 and Wesleyan was #11--now Bowdoin is #7 and Wesleyan is #9. Midd went from #7 to #11--did it really change all that much in one year? Probably not. But a .1 difference in peer assessment can mean the difference between #7 and #11. Crazy...

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 05:36 pm: Edit

It will be interesting to see if this changes application numbers and yield at Middlebury and the other "losers" in this years rankings. It seems that many have really become that rankings crazed.

By Mini (Mini) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 05:38 pm: Edit

There are "reasons" for everything - which means that there is truth behind very little. Take (for example) Occidental's commitment to low-income students (or Smith's or Mount Holyoke's or Macalesters) and the relationship between income and SAT scores. Add 100 points in SAT scores to each (because that's the result.) Take the 10% of recruited adult students out of Smith, combine with the recruited low-income students, and selectivity goes up by a third.
Take the legacies and the development admits out of Yale and Princeton and selectivity soars. Take the internationals out of Harvard, Yale, and Princeton (they admit no more than 2-3%) and selectivity radically declines. And this assumes that all schools operate in a "national" marketplace. As I've noted before, put Williams in Walla Walla and you have..."Whitman". Put Grinnell in Amherst and you have..."Amherst". The "national" rankings aren't really national. Put Earlham, or Knox, or St. Olaf's, or half a dozen others in New England....

It's why the rankings don't work. (Middlebury should have lost four places on account of the past winter...)

By Palomino (Palomino) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 05:45 pm: Edit

I think it could go either way. applicants may think that a college that slips within the rankings is more within their reach than it was before, increasing the number of applicants who are less qualified. it also whips the college into action, forcing it to seek to quickly remedy the shortcomings and market itself harder (I wouldn't be surprised if Midd hired more faculty and gave them raises to turn things around).

Bowdoin dropped to #10 last year, yet saw a record number of applicants this year...

By Arcadia (Arcadia) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 05:47 pm: Edit

what happened this past winter, besides the fact that it was cold?

By Mini (Mini) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 05:58 pm: Edit

It was coldER.

By Bookworm (Bookworm) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 06:11 pm: Edit

4-UPenn
5-MIT, Duke, Stanford
8-Caltech
13-Brown

doesn't make sense to me, based on reading CC boards. Wharton VERY difficult, but as a whole, I wouldn't think Penn or Duke above any of the others
Sad to think what these ratings will do to the prospective applicants

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 06:24 pm: Edit

If prospective applicants are basing their decisions on arbitrary rankings, then they deserve whatever they get. It's really a poor way to chose "good fit" colleges and universities.

Seems to me that the best way is to decide what criteria are important and then build a list based on those criteria. Perhaps down the road, you'll find that you used the wrong criteria. But, at least you will have tried to make rational choices.

By Alexandre (Alexandre) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 06:31 pm: Edit

I agree. I picked Michigan over 8 schools ranked ahead of it in the USNWR rankings. A student must realize that the difference between #5 and #20 is tiny. There are over 1,500 colleges and universities in the US and there are roughly 200 that are excellent to good. I don't think it is possible to differentiate when you are looking at the top 25 private research universities, the top 25 LACs and the top 10 state universities. I would say they are all roughly on equal footing.

By Wlrsqtr (Wlrsqtr) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 06:47 pm: Edit

We bought it one line last year. The ranking was not a factor in her decision. However the on-line info of acceptance rate for ED/EA versus acceptance rate for all except ED/EA was very useful in determining a strategy. I'm sure the info was available other places but we didn't find it easily.

By Xiggi (Xiggi) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 07:44 pm: Edit

Mini~

While I do not disagree with your conclusions, I believe that your -often repeated- argument regarding the schools with high Pell grants and low SAT scores among the poor applicants does not account for such drastic changes.

I have never challenged your previous posts on the subject, but I would like you to consider the following elements:

1. The Pell grants represent a cornerstone of financial aid but do NOT tell the whole story. A school could very well provide -or arrange- for the maximum Pell award and provide subpar financial aid. On the other hand, a school could forego the Pell grant by desire, or have to because of the income of the candidates, but still provide excellent financial aid. There are many families that are excluded from the Pell grants and are far from wealthy. Focusing excessively on the Pell grants falls far from telling the entire truth.

2. Regarding the SAT scores, there is huge danger in using the average figures and over-generalize the results of national scores. It is true that the average scores are lower for disadvantaged students, but again, little is known about disavantaged students who apply at the elite schools. There is, however, a telling fact that can be deduced from our little community at CC: there are many, many students who scored sky-high on the standardized tests and are still very well below the typical middle class standards. I could give you plenty of real life examples but I'm sure that you would not have too many problems identifying several long-term posters that fit the criteria.

Just some food for thought!

By Mini (Mini) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 08:03 pm: Edit

Pell grants are very small ($4,000 a year). Income levels of Pell Grant recipients are very low by college standards(generally speaking $40k/year for the family or below; bottom 35% of the population.) I know of NO college or university, not a single one, that does not use Pell Grants as the first part of a LARGE grant to get students to attend. Not one, and they'd be stupid if they didn't use the Pell Grant as the first part of their package. )Check that, I do know one: Hillsdale, a very special case exception.) But for a $40k/year college or university, the college grant/loan package has to be huge in order to get the students to attend. The commitment has to be very large to get the students there.

Tom Mortenson has followed the data over a 10-year period, and has noted the massive commitments that schools have to make, above and beyond simply the financial aid commitments, to get students in this income category to attend. It usually means a multi-year or decade commitment, including recruitment, special programs for 9th and 10th graders, ongoing work with guidance counselors in low-income schools, and efforts in the admissions office to recognize other achievements (such as working 30 hours a week to support one's family while carrying a full workload, the lack of SAT prep or even not being able to afford taking the test more than once, the lack of AP, IB, Honors, or even basic courses in many low-income high schools, and the relationship between parental education and student achievement.)

Contrary to what you say, we know LOTS about this population. There is more data than you can possibly imagine. The schools do as well (in fact, Harvard has been doing data runs on this population as long as I can remember, because they are trying to figure out why they can't get low-income students to attend. The Pell Grant data fits hand-and-glove with Harvard's own data regarding income characteristics of their attending students.) Of course, there are a huge numbers of exceptions - that's why you have to stick to the data.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 10:11 pm: Edit

So interesting how different the tone is on this topic on the kid's threads. They really buy this stuff and a slip matters. What has US News done? Did they have any idea of what they were doing? Does anyone know what's happened to their profitability since they introduced this?

By Thedad (Thedad) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 10:15 pm: Edit

Cheers and whistles for InterestedDad.

By Thinkingoutloud (Thinkingoutloud) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 11:03 pm: Edit

If you focus on a school's ability to teach (quality faculty, good library, etc.) a motivated liberal arts student, I am willing to bet such a student would be just as well-educated by attending any of the top ten LACs and any of the top 15 National universities. In other words, any distinction that exists between the number one and the number ten LAC is not so significant as to diminish the quality of eduction for a motivated student.

By Calbears2007 (Calbears2007) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 03:09 am: Edit

Regarding the reaction on this topic on the "kid's thread", I think this whole thing is more about "bragging rights" than which school is better than which. Therefore, I don't think we are really "buying into it" completely, hopefully heh.

This is just another thing we can talk about when we talk about each others' schools (and make some fun at the same time =P) Personally I look at this ranking just like I do for the ESPN college football/basketball Top 25, which means I look at this just for fun. The question of the quality of a school is really subjective and few rankings can paint a completely accurate picture.

By Alexandre (Alexandre) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 04:09 am: Edit

Thinkingoutloud, I don't think there is much of a difference between the top 35 national universities and the top 25 LACs. I mean, think about it. Reed College is ranked #53 among LACs. Reed is as good a LAC as they come. You can get as good an education at the #53 LAC as you can at the #6 LAC.

By Garland (Garland) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 09:02 am: Edit

Pell grants are a federal mandate: schools cannot decide not to "give" them, unless the student has been given another grant or scholarship that covers the entire cost of attendance (no loans or workstudy). And very few Pell-eligible students are in that position.

By Sauronone (Sauronone) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 09:06 am: Edit

I'm sorry, but I think you're all full of it. What do you know about these colleges and universities that US News staff don't? When did you research all of the information that goes into US News ranking methodology? How do you go about saying "STANFORD UNDER PENN?! OH MY GOD, WHO ARE THEY KIDDING?!" You can give me arbitrary and ambiguous statements all night long, but if you took the hard facts and statistics that US News took, you'd probably get the same results.

More than half of you go on hearsay and public opinion. Yeah, I think Stanford's great, I think it's better than Penn. But then again... why do I think this? Because people tell me it all the time! US News is a far more credible source than hearsay; and I stick by US News, regardless of whether they try to make a little money by switching Harvard with Yale, etc. The fact is, the rankings are the standard. Bashing it because of your personal opinion (or mass opinion) of some school is futile and stupid.

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 09:12 am: Edit

Sauronone -- you have unfortunately been brainwashed by US News. My objection to the college issue is limited to the rankings. It is counterproductive to identify one school as "better" than another, and I do believe it is arbitrary. Just because they use a standard system doesn't mean it doesn't contain factors that are arbitrary, meaningless, or irrelevant (at least to some people).

I think most people have an idea in their minds about which schools they consider "prestigious" -- I know I do, and my list probably won't be the same as someone else's. I guess those of us who remember life before the rankings understand the impact they can have, and at leat some of us think it was better when some magazine wasn't trying to tell us which school is better than another.

That being said, I do think US News provides good information about colleges that may not otherwise have been available. If they could do this w/o the actual numerical rankings, I would even consider buying the issue.

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 09:41 am: Edit

I have used US news in the past. I think the articles on college choice and dealing with finaid are helpful, as is the data about the % of students who graduate with loans and the % who recieve aid.
I think the rankings are ridiculous, many people who really should know better agonize over the choice of a school not in the top tier or between a 28th ranked and 33rd ranked school.
Reed of course doesn't participate, while some colleges talk about how rankings are a bad way to get info about colleges, they still participate, and trumpet every increment of advancement on their web site. Students who apply to Reed are a little different anyway. They either are aware of the esteem that Reed holds in academia regardless of US NEWS rankings, or they are so drawn to its quirky personality that they apply despite the rankings. With the increase in #'s of alternative sources of information, Reeds applications are up and acceptances are down, despite its being ranked as a 2nd tier school. Several students ( even legacies) who really wanted to attend in the last few years have been waitlisted, a disadvantage to such a tiny school
http://web.reed.edu/apply/college_rankings.html

By Xiggi (Xiggi) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 09:59 am: Edit

Garland~

Your example of providing full grants illustrates what I wrote: "On the other hand, a school could forego the Pell grant by desire, or have to because of the income of the candidates, but still provide excellent financial aid."

Sauronome~

Before jumping up and down about the stupidity and futility of people expressing their opinion based on hearsay, I would encourage you to read a BIT about the USNews rankings.

It may surprise you that the ultimate ranking of the schools, and especially the top 20 in each category is essentially decided on ... pure hearsay and -very- opiniated positions. What hard facts and statistics do you believe help to formulate the PEER reputation element that makes so much difference? Could it be last years' issue of the same report -quickly consulted by the administrative assistant in charge of filling the survey in lieu of the Dean?

You are entitled to believe that there is a science behind an element like peer ranking, and I will continue to believe that it is based on cynical history, age, and geographical cronyism.

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 10:17 am: Edit

may surprise you that the ultimate ranking of the schools, and especially the top 20 in each category is essentially decided on ... pure hearsay and =very- opiniated positions. What hard facts and statistics do you believe help to formulate the PEER reputation element that makes so much difference? Could it be last years'issue of the same report

I have to admit I bought last years report obstensibly to help kids in my younger daughters school get help for college. I know that some schools really market themselves to other schools just as they also have gobs of students doing marketing ( for work study) by calling parents for development campaigns. So alumn giving can be slanted depending on how heavy they do telemarketing.
However I also noticed in last years report Reed rated a 3.9 peer ranking ( higher than 27 schools in the top 50 LACs) so apparently some of their "peers" don't use the US News guide as their only source of information.
Point taken though.
( This is so much more fun than dealing with the letters I have to write today ;-)

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 10:33 am: Edit

I, for one, am glad there are USN ratings. It gives a good perusal of the college scene and anyone who reads through the issue can gain alot of knowledge about schools. The divisions among national unis, LACs, Liberal arts schools, Local schools is very valuable. When we moved, and we moved alot, it is good to have some guide to the local colleges other than word of mouth and the literature from the school themselves. The difference between the colleges that have plenty of liberal arts offerings and those that are primarily business/education/nursing/criminal justice is a great differentiator.

My big complaint with the ratings is their actual number assignments. To compare Swarthmore with Michigan, for instance, is meaningless. It is also a fruitless exercise to argue which school is truly better even within a category--WAS,AWS,WSA,ASW--they switch around all of the time. And yet by assigning them a numerical value, there is that implication that one is "better" than the other. I feel they should categorize the schools instead in alphabetical order rather than assigning rank, something they do with the regional,lesser known schools simply because they cannot or do not want to get into ranking them. If you are 4th scale, then there you are in alphabetical order. The same should be done with the top categories with possible subcategories if the statistics indicate a natural break. But in doing so, like Princeton Review has found, you cannot neatly package into top 50 or top 300. There may be a cluster at that magic number that makes it mathematically unsound to make the break from one tier to another. Number 51 may well belong more with 48-50 than with 52- on. The other disfavor that I find in the rankings is throwing the tech schools in there without some designation of what they are. I find it difficult to compare life at schools with a strong tech component with the usual liberal arts schools.

I have found their "Ultimate" guide extremely useful in breakdowns of numbers that you just cannot easily get elsewhere. I am sorry that the yield was eliminated as that is a number that can be useful. The more info, the better, I feel, but actual assigned rankings are done on such a matrix that are loaded with opinion--therefore I feel they are really not valid. But yield is a mathematical result, not an opinion, but a true measure of opinion.

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 10:54 am: Edit

I am with Xiggi in not being as concerned about the number of Pell grant recipients at a college. There are a number of programs supported heavily by the top schools that do start intervention at the middle school level for disadvantaged kids--ABC, Prep for Prep, Delasalle, etc. They do tend to be for disadvantaged URMs, and I have been skeptical about how disadvantaged some of those kids are, though I heartily support the programs. Even in such programs, and I include many of the public magnet programs, the thing that stands out with nearly every kid in these programs are proactive parents. It is not so much the income that is an issue with these kids as family situation. That is why with Asian families, you get kids performing strongly even if the families just immigrated here and have little money. They tend to have intact families with parents without big problems (drugs, alcohol, vice, criminal activities, mental issues), working with education for their kids as their first priority. Kids without that situation do not tend to do well at all. I wish there were a way to find those kids who could be educated to a level where they are top college material whose parents cannot do the job.

By offering some adults a second chance at an elite college education, some schools, like Smith, have opened a door to those who did not have the opportunities when they were younger, but who matured to be able to do so much later. But, then again, I would guess that most of those who benefit from these programs, again are not from the most challeged homes as children.

I work with kids who are in this lowest category of accomplishment, and find that without exception, they are kids who are raising themselves in the face of adult chaos. Money is only one problem that they have, and would not change the situation much for most of them. Mandatory education at least gets them into the schools, but we have not done well by this group of kids even when we get them for 6 hours a day, 9 months of the year when they are 6-8 years old. Headstart has made some inroads in working with these kids still younger, but the numbers of still very bleak. I do not see how an elite college can come into the picture when this, the neediest of our population, are already young adults. The intervention needs to come much earlier and anyone who has read the NY Times when school starts will know that we have not come very far with these kids. In this great country of ours, while we worry about AP courses and getting into the ivies, there are kids that are crammed in inadequate classrooms, sharing outdated books, with untrained teachers who can't wait to leave the dismal school for better pickings. They are late for school, do not have basic preschool skills, are under nourished, maybe abused, and their home lives have problems we do not want to think about. And we cannot even provide them with basic school supplies!!! A disgrace. Everyone should tour one of these inner city elementary schools and they will see why they are breeding grounds for criminals.

By Mini (Mini) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 11:29 am: Edit

I wouldn't be "concerned" about the number of Pell Grant recipients. Pell Grant recipients are simply a surrogate for folks in the lowest 35% of the population economically speaking. They aren't necessarily the poorest of the poor (most aren't). But what they do guarantee is much greater diversity in the classroom and the college's culture -- for all students -- not just the poorer ones. Certainly one can argue that someone coming from a family with a $40k/year income is not disadvantaged -- but you can't argue that they aren't rare. (Harvard, just for an example, has 8 times (!) as many student families paying full freight - $168k - as they have Pell Grant recipients!)

Your point about inadequate classrooms, etc. is extremely well-taken. That's why it takes a HUGE commitment on the part of Occidental, Smith, Mount Holyoke, and now Amherst to both attract and retain students from this income category. These aren't one-shot efforts - they basically have to change the entire mindset of the admissions office in order to do so, and to maintain such a commitment over decades.

You might argue that it isn't worth doing - after all, the vast majority of these students aren't going to these colleges anyway. But the original post was about the relationship between quality (rankings - a strange surrogate) and selectivity/SAT scores -- these colleges believe they create a better academic and cultural climate for EVERYONE when they choose to select students with lower SAT scores, and decrease their selectivity by overselecting students from these income categories. You may even suggest that it is a bad idea (Davidson and Colby obviously think it is), but what you can't deny is its impact on the so-called rankings.

By Justanothermom (Justanothermom) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 11:33 am: Edit

I think that USNews can be a very valuable tool for families like mine who are just beginning to explore college choices. While the rankings are not terribly persuasive, the data can be very helpful in shaping decisions.

For example, on the recommendation of a friend, I told my D (who is only interested in tech schools) to look at Georgia Tech. While it seems like a really good option in many respects, the graduation data does give pause: 24% in four years and 60% in five. Does that mean that the school canít provide a great education? Of course not; however, thatís information which I would want D to know and investigate before making a final decision.

Maybe USNews should provide just the data and not rank. However, Iím willing to let them deal in absolutes as long as it provides some data which my D might find relevant in making her decision.

Also, in some ways it could be beneficial for a number of applicants who donít care as much about rankings. On a recent visit to Caltech, the adcom officer told us that they had had a record number of applicants the year after they were ranked #1 by USNews, but that applications had return to more normal levels after they went down on the rankings. D quickly whispered that she hoped they would go down some more before she applies next year!

FWIW, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/cool, is another valuable tool I have found with the data, but without the rankings.

By Alexandre (Alexandre) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 12:08 pm: Edit

There are two things that the US News and World report can do to curb the controversy.

1) Separate research universities from non-research universities.

2) Only rank them according to Academic Reputation (peer assessment rating). All other criteria can be listed as a matter of fact but should not be used to determine rank.

According to that system, you would have the following rankings:

Research oriented Universities:
#1 Harvard
#1 MIT
#1 Princeton
#1 Stanford
#1 Yale
#6 Cal-Berkeley
#7 Caltech
#7 Columbia
#9 Chicago
#9 Cornell
#9 Duke
#9 Johns Hopkins
#9 Michigan-Ann Arbor
#9 Penn
#15 Northwestern
#16 Carnegie Mellon
#16 UCLA
#16 UVA
#19 UNC-Chapel Hill
#19 Wisconsin-Madison
#21 UT-Austin
#22 Georgia Tech
#22 Illinois-Urbana Champaign
#24 USC
#24 Washington-Seattle

Non-Research oriented Universities
#1 Brown
#2 Dartmouth
#3 Rice
#4 Vanderbilt
#4 Washington University (St. Louis)
#6 Emory
#6 Georgetown
#8 Notre Dame
#9 William and Mary
#10 Tufts
#10 Boston College

Or, separating them by State university and Private University, still only using the Preer Assessment rating. This would look slightly different:

#1 Harvard
#1 MIT
#1 Princeton
#1 Stanford
#1 Yale
#6 Caltech
#6 Columbia
#8 Chicago
#8 Cornell
#8 Duke
#8 Johns Hopkins
#8 Penn
#13 Brown
#14 Dartmouth
#14 Northwestern
#16 Carnegie Mellon
#17 Rice
#18 Vanderbilt
#19 Washington University (St. Louis)
#20 Emory
#21 Georgetown
#22 Notre Dame
#22 USC
#24 Boston College
#24 Tufts

State Universities:
#1 Cal-Berkeley
#2 Michigan-Ann Arbor
#3 UCLA
#3 UVA
#5 UNC-Chapel Hill
#5 Wisconsin-Madison
#7 Texas-Austin
#8 Georgia Tech
#8 Illinois-Urbana Champaign
#10 Washington-Seattle

By Xiggi (Xiggi) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 12:43 pm: Edit

There are two things that the US News and World report can do to curb the controversy.

1) Separate research universities from non-research universities.

2) Only rank them according to Academic Reputation (peer assessment rating). All other criteria can be listed as a matter of fact but should not be used to determine rank.


Alexandre~

The separation by type of universities would not be a bad option, but would also fuel additional debate. In that same vein, I do not see how using the most blatantly biased and unverifiable element of the entire ranking could possibly curb the controversy. Let's follow your proposal and, while at it, let's call it the College Pageant of America; like the Miss America, let's pretend it to be a true talent contest, but let's make sure we nominate a pretty and popular face!

My opinion is different. Let's split the ranking in two distinct categories: the first one can harbor the opinions, reputations, and other matter of perception; the second category can list all the measurable facts, bring back yield, and give a preponderant weight to selectivity. That way readers can enjoy the best of both worlds. The first list will contain all the fluff and tell us how other "professionals" value the ranked colleges while the second will give the hard facts necessary to form our OWN opinion.

By Bern700 (Bern700) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 01:11 pm: Edit

yeah that's a great idea rank them by reputation...????? It's only the most subjective thing.

By Candi1657 (Candi1657) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 01:25 pm: Edit

And especially when some admitted to manipulating them in order to place themselves in a better position.

By Mini (Mini) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 01:29 pm: Edit

Alumni giving should be the only category that counts - it gives the College a real opportunity to pander to us poor slobs who can't donate a whole building.

By Bern700 (Bern700) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 01:39 pm: Edit

It should be based on the quality of the dining hall food :)

By Idler (Idler) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 01:54 pm: Edit

I don't consider "reputation" to be all that subjective--one person's opinion is subjective, but the opinion of a multitude who have thought on the subject is quite another thing. Of course, one's own opinion is all that matters here; for what it's worth, my opinion is that Alexandre's rank list is much better than USNWR's.

By Mini (Mini) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 01:56 pm: Edit

I thought the individual descriptions in the Princeton Review did a much better job of capturing the sense of the institutions I know.

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 02:06 pm: Edit

I'd give a shout-out to the Fiske Guide to colleges.

On our family college tours, we took turns reading aloud the descriptions of the next school from three different guidebooks as we drove to the campus. By reading aloud and talking about the various points being made, I think it gave us a good overview of each school.

At least for a small sampling of schools I've checked, the Fiske Guide has been right on.

By Idler (Idler) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 02:18 pm: Edit

I second Interesteddad's opinion.

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 03:01 pm: Edit

Idler -- apparently some college administrators/deans have admitted to downgrading the reputation of schools they see as being in direct competetion with them for rankings.

By Idler (Idler) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 03:19 pm: Edit

Really? That's pathetic. Still, where large numbers are concerned, I'm nevertheless a believer in collective wisdom, even though I frequently disagree with it.

By Xiggi (Xiggi) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 03:50 pm: Edit

The problem with the "collective" wisdom approach is that there is little guarantee that the form are filled with integrity or filled at all. A very generous estimation is that only 60% of the interview forms ever get returned, and that does not begin to address the partial replies. At least, the common data forms have to contain the required information.

As a closing note -and I mean this seriously-, I have to wonder about the various percentages that compose the final scores. I do not know about most people who read the scores but I find it strange how little value is given to the acceptance rates (1.5% of total) or the ratio of student-to-faculty (1%). I guess that not too many students are interested in ascertaining their chances at admission, and finding out how many teachers will be teaching at the school! Obviously, the graduation rates/performance have to be considered more important by a 6-to-1 ratio.

I also assume that information such as acceptance trends has little merit in evaluating schools. A school could double (or halve) its acceptance rates and it would not make much difference in the yearly statistics. That may explain why school with acceptance rates of well above 30%, not to mention well above 50%, maintain very high rankings.

Oh well, what was I thinking? As long as the the Dean of Juniata or an obscure secretary at Transylvania University know so much about each other school, I guess we'll all be fine -collectively and wisely!

PS The list of the weighed criteria:
Peer assessment 25%
Avg Graduation Rate 16%
Financial Resources 10%
SAT Scores 7.5%
Faculty compensation 7%
Class Size 1-9 6%
HS - Top 10% 6%
Alumin Giving 5%
Graduation Rate Performance 5%
Avg Freshman Retention 4%
Faculty Degrees 3%
Class Size 50+ 2%
Acceptance rate 1.5%
Percent Full Time 1%
Student/Faculty Ratio 1%

By Idler (Idler) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 04:05 pm: Edit

I have to admit I have no strong feeling about the collective wisdom of the administrators that fill out the USNWR forms--but I was struck that the peer assesment list that Alexandre typed out for us seems closer to what I take to be the generally accepted reputation than what USNWR comes up with.

By Marite (Marite) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 04:19 pm: Edit

From the Princeton website. I love how it makes Princeton seem to be talking from both sides of its mouth.


News magazine puts Princeton at top of list


The latest U.S. News & World Report ranking of America's best colleges again placed Princeton at the top of the list. The magazine ranked Princeton first, tied with Harvard University, in the "national university-doctoral" category, which includes research universities offering a full range of undergraduate majors plus master's and Ph.D. programs. The University was also ranked number one for least debt incurred by students after graduation and number two for best value.

While Princeton officials were pleased to be recognized as one of many outstanding universities, they downplayed the significance of the rankings. They stressed that the methodology in this report and similar surveys cannot capture the distinctiveness of any institution or whether one or another university might be an appropriate match for any individual student.

By Anxiousmom (Anxiousmom) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 07:40 pm: Edit

Does anyone else wonder about the double-whammy of "predicted graduation rate" and "actual graduation rate" with points off if you are below your "predicted rate"? I think graduation rate should be an absolute score. USWNR predicts a higher graduation for schools w/ higher SAT scores - and then penalizes them if they don't reach that graduation rate. That's not fair. For instance (2004 rankings) MIT (SAT 1420-1560) predicted grad rate 93%/ Actual rate 91%. -2 under prediction. Tufts (SAT 1250-1430) predicted grad rate 85% / actual rate 88%. +3. They get a higher score than MIT in this area even though Tufts has a graduation rate that is lower. Seems ridiculous to me!

By Candi1657 (Candi1657) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 07:49 pm: Edit

I think a Stanford dean pointed out the fact that Caltech gets crucified for have a lower than predicted graduation rank, despite having rigorous academics that definitely factor into retention rates.

Bottom line, while individual facts about these schools can be very helpful, assigning numerical rankings based on a weighting of criteria that may very well be dubious in merit is shady and can potentially be misleading.

By Barrons (Barrons) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 07:49 pm: Edit

If you can earn points by generating masses of applicants and then turning them down, why not award what is a reasonable test for student satisfaction?

By Shyboy13 (Shyboy13) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 08:00 pm: Edit

As usual I have heard some very intelligent statements on this site from Jamimom, Mini, and Alexandre. There are very few posters on CC that I consistently agree with and respect.

Regarding Jamimomís and Miniís statements about poverty, I can add that perhaps the majority of people truthfully do not understand the struggles of poor kids. I mean, it is no wonder why we donít see poor kids getting into top colleges at the rate of rich kids. I myself though it was common knowledge that the poor were not intellectually inferior but found that not to be the general consensus. Some complain that poor students have an undue advantage in the admission process over ďmore qualifiedĒ affluent applicants. Contrarily, it is a fact that they are at a disadvantage throughout the ENTIRE process. Some just donít acknowledge that fact or donít understand it.

Sorry if this sounded like a digression. I intended it to be an extension of the earlier conversation.

Now to Alexandreís ranking system, I cannot say I am against it. I will propose, however, an alternative ranking system in which a school is ranked based on the cumulative sum of its excellence in number of individual departments. Since I started studying schools, I have never understood why a school like Berkeley is so extremely powerful and recognized in almost everything it does yet fails to get the ďprestigeĒ it deserves in the overall rankings. There are others I could mention but I think everyone gets my point. A ranking system like this would almost definitely have a high correlation with the ranking system that Alexandre suggests.

Note: I am in the process of creating such a ranking for my personal knowledge and using statistics/econometrics as a tool.

By Dmd77 (Dmd77) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 09:01 pm: Edit

One thing I've noticed about the rankings is that non-northeast schools generally have lower peer ratings. My theory is that, because the northeast has so many historically excellent schools, more college faculty know those schools, and it becomes self-perpetuating.

A while back--and of course I've completely forgotten where I read it--I read that the rankings loosely correspond to the age of the school, and that (in fact) if you took the same 100 schools and ranked them by age, you'd get about the same rankings.

By Dstark (Dstark) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 09:07 pm: Edit

Schools should be ranked by how well they educate their students and by how well the students learn social skills.
Most of the stats we have are input stats.
We need output stats.
How do the students come out of these schools, not how they came into the schools.
Are the students prepared for real life when they come out?

By Originaloog (Originaloog) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 09:26 pm: Edit

Dstark, I couldn't agree with you more. During his research on possible colleges he might onsider, one "output" he considered were the relative number of graduates that went on to earn a PhD's. He figured that was a reasonable indication of the institutions' education quality. Beause he was looking for merit aid, the list of colleges that were on his long list included Rochester, Rensselaer, Case, Allegheny, Wooster, Kalamazoo, Oberlin, and Grinnell. He ended up applying to 5 on that list.

The fact that intrigued us was that colleges like Allegheny, Wooster and K'zoo accepted students with qualifiation significantly lower that the "elites", but produced future PhD's in numbers exceeding sister institutions like Middlebury, Bowdoin, and in numbers similar to Amherst, Williams, and Wesleyan.

BTW, the data base he used only included private institutions.

By Calmom (Calmom) on Saturday, August 21, 2004 - 12:05 am: Edit

Am I the only one looking at the rankings hoping that the colleges my current high school junior is interested in will fall in status? I mean, the last things she needs is for a school she is considering to become even more competitive for admissions.... better that it is seen as less worthy and applications start to decline.

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Saturday, August 21, 2004 - 12:54 am: Edit

>> Am I the only one looking at the rankings hoping that the colleges my current high school junior is interested in will fall in status?

Believe me, I know the feeling. My wife and daughter took a college hunting trip right after she finished the 10th grade -- before we'd even seen an SAT score.

They came home all ga-ga over Swarthmore. I knew enough to know that it was pretty lofty admissions territory. But, then I look up the selectivity stats and find out it's the #1 hardest liberal arts college in the country to get into. Ouch!

Dear old dad quickly began a campaign of lowered expectations!

By Alexandre (Alexandre) on Saturday, August 21, 2004 - 03:08 am: Edit

DSTARK, I do not believe it is possible to rate schools by how well they educate and teach social skills. In fact, both are so personal that it is really up to the individual and the fit between the university and that particular individual.

INTERESTEDDAD, I too really like the Fiske guide. It is extremely accurate and very informative. Of all the university books, it is the best. I do question their Quality of Life ratings, but other than that, it is almost always right on! Their Academic ratings and their Social Life Ratings are right on target, as are the personalized and detailed writeups on the universities and colleges.

As for the notion that the Peer Assessment is subjective, sure it is, but it is nevertheless the opinion of hundreds, if not thousands of academics, administrators, researchers, school presidents, deans of admissions and provosts. The avarage opinion of a thousand, if not more, people in such a position is no longer really that subjective. It becomes pretty reliable and factual.

And those who say that some of the participants in the peer assessment review purposely give their competitiors lower scores are probably quite correct, but does it really matter? Of the 1,000+ assessors, does it really make a difference if 50 or so raters give a school a lower score than deserved? That it really affect the total score all that much? Besides, it is almost a given that the universities and colleges of the administrators who purposely give their competitors a lower scores are themselves getting lower scores from their own competitors. Therefore, since all schools are getting lower scores from a few of their competitotres, things cancel each other out and the whole concept now becomes a constant in the equation.

Those are just my thoughts on the matter of course, I am sure most of you will now want to rip it to shreds! LOL

By Dmd77 (Dmd77) on Saturday, August 21, 2004 - 10:33 am: Edit

The problem with the peer assessment is that, of course, the peers can only accurately rate the colleges they have some familiarity with. And which colleges do they know best? The local ones. So if you take an area where there are many schools--like New England--I'd trust those rankings. But for Oregon? Washington state? I ask: how well does an administrator in New England know the Oregon schools? Do they understand the not-so-subtle differences between Lewis & Clark and Reed? Or is the only thing they know about L&C that Monica Lewinsky went there?

By Marite (Marite) on Saturday, August 21, 2004 - 10:49 am: Edit

Dmd:

I actually think the greatest ignorance concerns southern and midwestern schools. Reed is well-known among academic administrators in the NE, Lewis & Clark less so. But Furman is probably known only to a handful, as is Rhodes. Some midwestern LACs are well known as well: Grinnell, Kenyon, Macalester, Kalamazoo, Carleton, Oberlin, but I doubt many have heard of Hope. Reading CC has been an eye opener for me.

By Alexandre (Alexandre) on Saturday, August 21, 2004 - 10:51 am: Edit

Dmd, participants in the Peer Assessment have six choices. 5 (Distinguished) - 1 (Marginal) and "I Don't Know". I would hope that if a respondent does not know enough about a university, he/she would answer honnestly and fill in the "I Don't Know" oval.

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Saturday, August 21, 2004 - 10:57 am: Edit

you would hope Alexandre, but my experience with "experts" is they can't admit to themselves let alone anyone else that they might not knowitall especially in their "area" of expertise.

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Saturday, August 21, 2004 - 12:28 pm: Edit

I find the peer assessment survey to be a valuable representation for "conventional wisdom within the academic community".

But, it is only valuable if you use the data correctly. Don't attribute more precision to the results than there was in the orginal opinions. Remember, the responsdents are only being asked for very, very coarse ratings. A 1, a 2, a 3, a 4, or a 5.

So when I view the data, I use a similarly coarse scale. Honestly, if a school ends up rated with a 4 or above, I figure the school is viewed as an academically excellent school and further precision is simply not meaningful. In other words, I see no difference whatsoever between a 4.2 and a 4.4 peer rating.

By Perry (Perry) on Sunday, August 22, 2004 - 10:55 am: Edit

The "peer assessment" criterion really should be taken with a grain of salt. If I'm not mistaken, the questionaire is provided to administrators, not faculty who are far more conversant with the quality of faculty and education at peer institutions. As I've argued before, the US News rankings primarily measure the wealth factor of each school, which does not always equal quality. If you examine faculty pedigree at the number one ranked school versus, say, the number 25 school, you will see no difference. Both schools employ ivy-league or top public school Phd graduates with scholarly publications, involvement in their professions, etc. As a result, there's no discernable difference in the quality of faculty or in the quality of education offered. The differences appear more apparent between top tier and second tier colleges, which don't have the resources to offer large course offerings.

By 3togo (3togo) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 04:45 pm: Edit

> On our family college tours, we took turns reading aloud the descriptions of the next school from three different guidebooks as we drove to the campus. By reading aloud and talking about the various points being made, I think it gave us a good overview of each school.

Interested Dad ... you mentioned 3 guides books ... would you please share which 3 you used?

Thanks!
3togo
(as opposed to the newly arrived "threetogo")

By Songman (Songman) on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 11:08 am: Edit

If your D/S are accepted to one of the high ranking schools you cite the US news rankings. If your school has a lower rank or is not listed at all, there is never a mention of the rankings. As a family we used and read the magazine carefully. After visiting some of the schools that held higher rankings we were not impressed, while other schools with lower rankings appeared to be the same. For e.g. Colby,Bates and Bowdoin. Some of you will argue that there are numerous differences between these schools. On the surface they all looked alike to us.

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 12:16 pm: Edit

>> Interested Dad ... you mentioned 3 guides books ... would you please share which 3 you used?

I don't remember the third one. My wife checked a number of guide books out of the library at various times. We also had the USNEWS rankings and would look up basic data like size of freshman class, median SATs, diversity, selectivity ranking, etc. for each school we visited.

We had the "Fiske Guide" which I found to be far and away the most informative. Their two or three page description of each school provides, far and away, the best overall big picture snapshot of the school's character. The Fiske Guide would be my number one purchase.

I found the Princeton Review guide to be far less useful with much of its info based on student surveys.

By Alongfortheride (Alongfortheride) on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 02:41 pm: Edit

Interesteddad, ditto...

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 03:13 pm: Edit

I would emphasize that reading the Fiske Guide descriptions ALOUD was an invaluable excercise. The Fiske college descriptions are charged with meaning and quick scanning sometimes doesn't give you time to pause and reflect about the importance of what is being said.

My wife read as we drove to the next college. My daughter and I would frequently stop her and ask to reread a sentence and then talk about what the heck they were getting at, sometimes triggering a much more involved discussion of some aspect of college life. It sometimes took more than hour to get through a three page capsule description.

Two years later, I went back this week and reread the Fiske description of Swarthmore. Based on everything I have learned about the college, I would have to say that Fiske's description is not only 100% accurate, but captures the true flavor of the school.

By Voronwe (Voronwe) on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 03:23 pm: Edit

Oh, my goodness, Songman! I have always appreciated ALL your posts, but Colby, Bates, and Bowdoin being all alike? No, no, no! They are VERY different in meaningful ways, and are emphatically NOT interchangeable in a number of areas that are important to students! But I suppose to an "outlander" it is like looking at triplets ---- I know triplet boys whom I can easily tell apart - and can't IMAGINE why anyone couldn't - yet my husband, who is not as familiar with them as I am, cannot tell them apart!

The differences may seem minor to you (eg, having quick and easy ocean access at Bowdoin
is important to some people, like sailors, and a varsity ocean sailing team could be a deal breaker; the towns - Brunswick is listed as #16 on Outside magazine's coolest college towns list, while Lewiston is....well, not as desirable; etc. etc. etc.) And however some may not like it, reputation matters, the state's stellar school has always been Bowdoin, from the days of Longfellow and Hawthorne and Chamberlain and Peary and Pierce til today.....While Bates is often considered a safety for those who want to go to Bowdoin, the other way around is not the case. Yet some still choose Bates as their first choice, and some choose Colby. The differences are very, very apparent for those who care.....

By Barrons (Barrons) on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 06:07 pm: Edit

"The differences are very, very apparent for those who care..... "

That would be few

By Concerneddad (Concerneddad) on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 02:28 pm: Edit

We too relied on the Fiske guide to help check reality vs. school brochures

By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 07:26 pm: Edit

I also swear by the Fiske Guide for getting a good overview. The Princeton Review's 350 Best Colleges tends to be very negative and I found that my daughter has been really turned off to even considering some great schools because of that negativity.

I used to love Kaplan's Unbiased College Guide until I noticed that many of the quotes used sounded vaguely...familiar. One day it hit me: the quotes had been picked up verbatim from reviews on www.eopinion.com and www.studentsreview.com. I double checked and sure enough - the quotes were lifted word for word. But the Unbiased Guide made it sound like it had actually had writers visit and talk to students. I haven't trusted it since because they obviously don't do any new research of their own. (But I do like to scan both eopinions and studentsreview now and then)

By Dstark (Dstark) on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 07:31 pm: Edit

The Fiske Guide is the best.
The others are entertainment.
Carolyn, I noticed you use the collegiate choice videos.
I like those and think they can save money.
My daughter ruled out schools after seeing a couple of videos.
Students review and epinions are great.So are livejournal.com and student newspapers.

By Barrons (Barrons) on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 07:43 pm: Edit

The conservative oriented guide to colleges is really very good in many ways. I don't recall the name but it is quite thick and a new ed just came out.

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 07:49 pm: Edit

>> The conservative oriented guide to colleges is really very good in many ways. I don't recall the name but it is quite thick and a new ed just came out.

I have a problem with a college guide published by a right-wing political action lobby group. This same organization, and its sister organizations, raises money and funds right-wing campus speakers and right-wing campus newspapers. Their student quotes come from students attending their right wing student lobbying "leadership" conferences.

I would have just as much objection to a college guide published by moveon.org. Same difference.

By Anxiousmom (Anxiousmom) on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 11:40 pm: Edit

I agree with Carolyn about the Princeton Review's assessments. After reading their review DD did not even want to apply to Rice. (From their review, "reportedly 'students that are not rich, white, or straight are tolerated only superficially.') Luckily we knew people who had attended Rice, and they were open-minded, wild and wacky diverse types. Actually school is only 54% Caucasian according to PR, and the residential college system makes each college into tight social systems that are VERY inclusive - since kids are assigned to colleges randomly. I think PR pulled that quote off of one disgruntled student's survey - and they've kept that quote in their review for several years already. I know it is not indicative of the tone of the campus! There are no rich kid dorms - all the colleges cost the same to live in whether you are in a crummy double in the oldest ugliest building (my kid), or a single in the brand-new dorm. The fact that they have lower need-base aid offered to students is that a huge number get merit scholarships (thus negating the need for needbased aid) and their fees are 10,000, a year less than comparable schools. Another negative comment from PR "Rice is home to students who are generally "very future-oriented, looking for internships, summer jobs and study abroad programs" to the extent the "if it won't look good on a resume, most students aren't interested." Well that's a pretty negative way of characterizing a school community where the colleges put on lots of plays and musicals (lots of student-run ones in addition to organized official university ones- try getting an resume boost off of putting on a comedy skit), a HUGE number of students play intermural and club sports (and I have never heard of anyone getting an internship because of playing water polo..), and tons of other activites. PR uses an exageration in its comments to make its point. I'm not saying that a student didn't say that on a survey - but that it's a negative way to make the point that it IS a focused and ambitious student body on campus. I wish PR would rewrite some of their reviews, because I think they turn kids off to schools that might be a very good fit for them. Like I said, my DD read the review and said "Yuck" - luckily the review was not indicative of the culture of the school, and she is loving it.

By Voronwe (Voronwe) on Saturday, August 28, 2004 - 09:19 am: Edit

The differences are very, very apparent for those who care..... "

That would be few


Is there a point to this sarcasm that I am missing, or is it just supposed to be funny? I have been away from the board for quite awhile both for summer and for dealing with my daughter who has cancer, and remember your posts as interesting and intelligent, so I do not know if this is a personal attack, an attack against LACS, against Maine schools, or what (sorry to be so thick-headed!)

By Achat (Achat) on Saturday, August 28, 2004 - 09:32 am: Edit

Voronwe, very sorry to hear about your daughter! Hope she feels better soon and is on her way to complete recovery. I was wondering why you were not here for quite awhile.

By Bookworm (Bookworm) on Saturday, August 28, 2004 - 09:39 am: Edit

My sympathy and best wishes, also

By Dstark (Dstark) on Saturday, August 28, 2004 - 11:08 am: Edit

Voronwe, hoping the best for your daughter, you and the rest of your family.

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Saturday, August 28, 2004 - 11:18 am: Edit

The conservative oriented guide to colleges is really very good in many ways. I don't recall the name but it is quite thick and a new ed just came out.
AND

I have a problem with a college guide published by a right-wing political action lobby group. This same organization, and its sister organizations, raises money and funds right-wing campus speakers and right-wing campus newspapers. Their student quotes come from students attending their right wing student lobbying "leadership" conferences.

Well actually I have found good information from conservative sources but you just have to keep in mind the context.

I would have just as much objection to a college guide published by moveon.org. Same difference.

Now theres an idea!

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Saturday, August 28, 2004 - 11:45 am: Edit

My objection to the ISI guide (and to other publications from political lobby organizatins) is that they don't fully disclose the political nature of their agendas. ISI masquerades as an academic research group. However, if you look at their funding, their management, and sister organizations operated by the same people, it is clearly a political lobby group, and a fairly inflamatory one at that.

So, even though I personally agree with some elements of their political views, I can't recommend a college guidebook that is politiccally motivated.

I have read their reports on several colleges and find them to be largely accurate, but not as complete as the Fiske Guide entries. Then, they throw in their mandatory digs at silly English department course titles, lack of "proper" curriculum requirements (any curriculum that doesn't require Economics classes is improper in their book), and oppression of Republicans on campus. Like those are big surprises to anyone who has looked at the elite college scene.

By Voronwe (Voronwe) on Saturday, August 28, 2004 - 11:51 am: Edit

Thank you so much, Bookworm, Dstark, and Achat!

By Marite (Marite) on Saturday, August 28, 2004 - 12:06 pm: Edit

Voronwe:
Best wishes from me, too! I know how hard it is on everyone.
Regarding Colby, Bates and Bowdoin, while the differences may not be as great as with some other LACs, location makes quite a difference. Colby's isolation led my S to strike it off his list though he had spent several enjoyable summers nearby and had even performed a couple of times in its field house. My S liked Bates but was turned off by Lewiston.
Academically, they are all excellent. Bates has the special project which I do not believe Bowdoin or Colby has. That feature is a major draw. My S got the sense that Bowdoin tried to attract students interested in music more than Bates.

By Patsfan (Patsfan) on Saturday, August 28, 2004 - 12:54 pm: Edit

I cannot understand how obsessed people are with the college rankings. If one looks at the USN rankings this year vs those of last year, the same schools are in the Top 25 albeit with a somewhat different ordering. Discounting the perennial top eight, the point differential between #9 and #16 is only 3. Big deal, also very subjective.

There are many fine colleges that are not in the top 25 in either the National University or the Liberal Arts survey yet provide outstanding educations. As a matter of fact, the top 25 national universities represent a total of approximately 48,000 students from the class of 2007. Of that number, Ivy league schools had about 13,000. It's too bad that all the other students are missing out on a good education.


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