Researching colleges and trying to figure out where you want to go for your undergraduate degree? You’re probably comparing options via ranking systems. Here are the five most common types of college ranking systems and how they differ.
AIER College Destinations Indez
Created by The American Institute for Economic Research, these rankings determine the college experience, which includes the town or city where each college is located. Rankings compare colleges based on culture, economic health of the area, economic opportunities, and student life.
America’s Top Colleges from Forbes
Forbes, a business magazine, determines their rankings based on return on investment. Rankings are based on a variety of categories, including student debt, graduate success, academic success, graduation rate, and student satisfaction.
The annual publication bases their rankings on surveys of over 130,000 students. There are dozens of categories, ranging from Most Beautiful Campus and Best College Dorms to Happiest Students and Best Campus Food. There’s also a guide to green colleges, which is ideal for students who are passionate about sustainability.
U.S. News and World Report
Most college brochures mention their ranking with the U.S. News and World Report. The “Best Colleges” rankings take into account 16 different academic excellence indicators, including financial resources, graduation rate, student retention, and student selectivity. Also taken into account are the results from surveys that are filled out by administrators at universities. In these surveys, administrators are asked to rate peer institutions.
College rankings from Washington Monthly base their evaluation on how much the college has contributed to the public good. Three primary categories are taken into consideration: research, service, and social mobility. Research is the amount of money that a college spends on research, as well as the number of Ph.D. degrees given in certain niches. Service refers to the number of hours that students have participated in support services for fellow students. Social mobility takes into account information about the college’s net price, as well as the number of students who are receiving Pell grants.
While a ranking system will help you determine the reputation of a college, it shouldn’t be your one and only factor when choosing a program.