More College Rankings

If you’re a high school student, or the parent of a high school student, trying to figure out what colleges might be the best for you or your child to consider, the wonderful world of college rankings may appear to be a good place to start your search for candidates. To see just how daunting  — and confusing — searching the rankings can be, just go to your favorite search engine and enter “college rankings.” You’ll be amazed at how many types of rankings are out there.

Of course, the (arguably, perhaps) best know rankings are those published every late summer by U.S. News. Love ’em or hate ’em, they are the ones that high schoolers drool over and parents scratch their heads over. Some colleges even commit technical crimes (numerical manipulation) in order to climb a rung or two on the old U.S. News rankings ladder.

After surveying the myriad versions of other people’s opinions about which are the “best” colleges, one would think that all avenues of ranking criteria have been exhausted. Not so fast there!

Suddenly, here comes LinkedIn’s university rankings “based on career outcomes.” What does that mean? Well, in LinkedIn’s own words, it means that you’ll get to see “which schools are launching graduates into desirable jobs,” according to LinkedIn’s methodology. To my knowledge, this is a unique approach to ranking the effectiveness of higher education’s main purpose: to prepare us to find success (and hopefully happiness) in the workplace.


So, let’s take a look at what you can expect when you enter this latest competitor in the college rankings race.

The first thing I want to know about a certain set of rankings is how the ranking experts approached their task. LinkedIn explains:

More than ever, students go to college because they want to get jobs — good jobs. To that end, students and parents want to know which schools give them the best chance at getting a desirable job after graduation. This is where we can help.

By analyzing employment patterns of over 300 million LinkedIn members from around the world, we figured out what the desirable jobs are within several professions and which graduates get those desirable jobs. As a result, we are able to rank schools based on the career outcomes of their graduates.

I had no idea that LinkedIn had 300 million members. That’s impressive.

In their explanation, they use the term “desirable jobs,” and then go on to define what the mean by that:

We define a desirable job to be a job at a desirable company for the relevant profession. For example, we define desirable finance jobs as finance jobs at companies desirable for finance professionals.

They then go define what a desirable company is. Their process of foundational defining can appear to be an exercise in circular logic, but the rankings results are interesting and provide a welcome refreshing from the usual suspects found in other rankings. Browsers may choose from schools in the United States, Canada, and the UK.

Here’s a sampling from LinkedIn’s presentation:

Since one popular area sought after by today’s high-performing college applicants is investment banking, let’s check out the rankings for finance. The top five schools ranked by LinkedIn for placing their graduates into desirable finance jobs are:

1. University of Pennsylvania

2. Yale University

3. Georgetown University

4. Princeton University

5. Columbia University

I detect a pattern among these top five: 80% are from the Ivy League. Needless to say, this selection emphasizes the obvious, although the inclusion of Georgetown in the top five may be a surprise to some prospective banking students.

How about the top five for desirable jobs in software development?

1. Carnegie Mellon University

2. California Institute of Technology

3. Cornell University

4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

5. Princeton University

Hardly any surprises there. Princeton hangs tough in another top five.

Looking to become a marketer? Here you go:

1. University of Pennsylvania

2. University of Michigan

3. Harvard University

4. New York University

5. Cornell University

Once again, the Ivies exert their influence. Next up: Best schools for aspiring Media Professionals.

1. New York University

2. Hofstra University

3. Duke University

4. Howard University

5. Northwestern University

I was expecting to see Syracuse University in the top five, but it came in at No. 6. No Ivies in the this top five.

You can explore the rest for yourself. LinkedIn’s blog closes out its explanation of rationale with this:

As the professional world evolves, we are continually looking to provide university rankings for an increasingly broad spectrum of career paths. Stay tuned!

Click here to start exploring LinkedIn’s University Outcome Rankings.


Check College Confidential for all my other college-related articles.