Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Nocera on rankings

I have been out of the country for a week and a half.  In catching up, I ran across a link on the NYU Stern website to this great article by NYT columnist Joe Nocera on the latest US News college rankings.  Schools like Harvard and Princeton come out on top because they are highly selective in admissions, have small classes, and spend lots of money thanks to huge endowments.  If a school like NC State wants to move up, it needs to make itself look more like Harvard and Princeton.  Money quote:
U.S. News likes to claim that it uses rigorous methodology, but, honestly, it’s just a list put together by magazine editors.
Or what used to be a magazine; US News stopped publishing two years ago.

Parents and students might want to ask themselves whether this is really useful information to guide their decision making.  Do you want to be in a small class listening to a very highly paid professor (or more likely, his graduate assistant) or do you want to be employed at graduation at a good salary with great prospects for the future?  The US News rankings of undergraduate programs give zero weight to employment outcomes, so you might need to check the WSJ rankings which come from employers. 
Interestingly, colleges can come up with salary and employment data for the graduates of their professional schools (including MBA), so why cannot they get this data for undergraduates as well?

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