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Comparing College Rankings to Help Students Find an Academic and Social Fit

June 20, 2019

College rankings can be helpful to students searching for a college fit and for colleges hoping to improve their prestige. Each source of college rankings is based on specific criteria which make them more suitable for certain purposes than others. This article summarizes some of the best-known college rankings and suggests how they are best used by students and their families.

 

Top Choice Academic Value

Summary

These rankings attempt to identify american colleges with smart students, happy students, and a surprisingly high acceptance rate. The rankings are based on all objective statistics including college graduation rates and admission rates.

Best uses

Assessing academic fit. Help for students who want to find the “best” colleges that they may have a better than expected chance of admission.

 

Sources

Ranking homepage and methodology https://www.topchoicecollegeconsulting.com/rankings-2019

 

US News

Summary

These rankings attempt to identify the “best” colleges in America, are based on more than a dozen factors ranging from class size, faculty salaries, and alumni giving. Includes subjective factors including peer institution and high school counselor assessments.

Best uses

Assessing academic fit. Help for students who want to understand the relative prestige of colleges that they are considering applying to.

 

Sources

Ranking homepage https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges

Methodology https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/articles/how-us-news-calculated-the-rankings

 

 

Forbes

Summary

These rankings attempt to identify the “best” colleges in America, and are based on more than six factors ranging from alumni salaries and student debt. Includes subjective factors including niche.com professor quality and student life.

Best uses

Assessing academic and financial fit. Help for students who want to understand the relative prestige of colleges and which higher paid alumni with lower debt loads.

 

Sources

Ranking homepage https://www.forbes.com/top-colleges

Methodology https://www.forbes.com/sites/cartercoudriet/2018/08/20/top-colleges-2018-the-methodology

 

niche.com

Summary

These rankings attempt to identify the culture at colleges in America, and give each college a scorecard (letter grade) in twelve categories including dorms, campus food, and safety. In addition, niche ranks colleges in social categories like best greek life and most most liberal colleges. The scorecards and rankings are based on statistical factors as well as student questionnaire responses.

Best uses

Assessing social fit. Help for students who want to understand which colleges have a reputation for prevalent greek life or which colleges have conservative-leaning students.

 

Sources

Ranking homepage https://www.niche.com/colleges/rankings/

Methodology https://www.niche.com/colleges/rankings/methodology/

 

 

 

 

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