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New Rankings of Educational Quality in Higher Education:

Rich Vedder at the Center for College Affordability & Productivity has a new effort to measure the educational quality at institutions of higher learning. He admits it is imperfect, but it certainly is more relevant than the sorts of stuff measured by US News:

But just below the top there are some surprises. Duke, MIT and the University of Pennsylvania make the top 10 list at U.S. News but not at CCAP. Duke students don't rate their professors high enough. At the University of Pennsylvania not enough grads made it into Who's Who. Brown and Northwestern, both ranked 14 by U.S. News, and Dartmouth College, ranked 11 by U.S. News, all make it onto our top 10. The University of Alabama, which got great reviews from students, came in a number 7 on our national public university ranking; it's at position 42 on U.S. News' list.

The biggest surprises come in our list of liberal arts colleges. Wabash doesn't make the top 50 on U.S. News' list but ranks tenth with CCAP because of the awards its students won and its showing in Who's Who. Several other schools not high on the U.S. News list, including Whitman, Washington & Lee, Barnard and the U.S. Military Academy (a.k.a. West Point), are in our top 10. A number of excellent smaller liberal arts colleges do poorly on the U.S. News list but fare very well on the CCAP list, including Reed (twelfth) and Knox (sixteenth). Like other consumers, students want satisfaction and results, which is what CCAP measures.

The rankings for national universities is here.

FantasiaWHT:

the University of Pennsylvania not enough grads made it into Who's Who


The fact that this analysis uses Who's Who robs it of any credibility whatsoever.
5.7.2008 6:00pm
Oren:
Yay for my alma matter, Reed, which, IIRC, simply withdrew from the US News list.
5.7.2008 6:02pm
Mark Field (mail):
Some pretty counter-intuitive rankings here. I can assure the authors that no CA high school student puts the UCs in the order the authors do.
5.7.2008 6:05pm
M (mail):
Isn't "Who's Who" just short of a scam? My impression has always been that it was largely a vanity project designed to take money from those who like to look more important than they are and that therefore any use of it for something like this would be worthless. I'd be interested to hear an argument as to why it might be worth-while, though.
5.7.2008 6:07pm
Hoosier:
Swell. My horrendously over-rated, over-priced alma mater moves UP in this ranking. Notre Dame should rank around CWRU, Boston U., and Brandeis in any ranking that wants to claim accuracy.

Also, I know some Wolverines who cannot be happy with this ranking.
5.7.2008 6:07pm
jake:
Who's Who doesn't belong in any serious standard of educational quality.
5.7.2008 6:09pm
M (mail):
Clicking on the link I now see it's from the AEI. Any group that would employ John Lott for so long can't really have any credibility, especially not on anything related to education. (That's not even to mention their other anti-science schilling and the like. A pretty dubious project, I'd guess.)
5.7.2008 6:10pm
AnneS:
Who's Who? What? Does CCAP perchance have a financial interest in that scam?
5.7.2008 6:10pm
Curt Fischer:

I can assure the authors that no CA high school student puts the UCs in the order the authors do.


Can you elaborate? Here is the order in which the various UCs appear on the list:

University of California-Berkeley
University of California-Los Angeles
University of California-Santa Barbara
University of California-Irvine
University of California-Riverside
University of California-Davis
University of California-Santa Cruz
University of California-San Diego

My subjective, out-of-state, relatively unfounded opinion is that UCSD and Davis are probably generally perceived to be "better" than Riverside and Santa Cruz. But other than that nothing seems too extremely wacky to me. My perspective is probably biased by my knowledge of each school's research reputation in my field. I don't really know what the situation is like for undergrads.
5.7.2008 6:11pm
AnneS:
SOrry, but should have added - Ratemyprofessors.com? Come on, did these guys flunk basic statistics and survey design? A half-educated college sophomore from the University of Pennsylvania could pick this ranking of the "meal" apart.
5.7.2008 6:13pm
rarango (mail):
Nice to see my alma mater can beat USNA at something. We sure havent had much luck on the fields of friendly strife.
5.7.2008 6:20pm
Philosopher:
I'd like to congratulate the creators of this ranking system for finally creating a system that makes U.S. News look great by comparison.

Any ranking system of national universities that ranks the University of Alabama before the Unversity of Chicago, Columbia, and Duke is a complete joke. I can't believe you linked to it for anything other than laughs.
5.7.2008 6:23pm
VincentPaul (mail):
Philosopher, Please look at page 2 for the ranking of all national universities. U of Chicago is # 4.
5.7.2008 6:39pm
The Ace:
It is like a bunch of people sat around and thought of the most unreliable measures of ranking schools and combined them into one glorious list. RatemyProfessors and Who's Who? Wow.

Next up: Law school rankings based upon what law schools get the fewest racist and sexist comments thrown their way on AutoAdmit. If your school is classified as a "TTT" look out.
5.7.2008 6:39pm
R Gould-Saltman (mail):
Who's Who and Ratemyprofessor.com? No goat-disemboweling, for control?

Just for laughs, I checked Ratemy for ratings for my father, and one of my undergrad mentors, each of whom has taught at the same institution for at least thirty years. Each had less than twenty ratings entries on Ratemy, (Pop had a total of six) out of a pool of, at this point, several thousand students each has taught.

The only thing that remains unanswered is whether Vedder factored the "professorial hotness" category from "Ratemyprofessor" in his tabulation.
5.7.2008 6:44pm
Anderson (mail):
Duke students don't rate their professors high enough.

I quit reading at that point.
5.7.2008 6:51pm
Wahoowa:
The data pool for this is patently ridiculous, as nearly everyone has pointed out. But I'd like to make sure everyone notices that Virginia is the highest-ranked public on this list. At least they got that right.
5.7.2008 6:53pm
common sense (www):
I think, from an academic matter, USMA has always been viewed more highly than USNA, at least based on things like Rhodes Scholars. Or so I tell myself during football season. I certainly hope our new policy on allowing football players to play professionally instead of entering the Army helps. And don't get me started on USAFA...
5.7.2008 7:18pm
MarkField (mail):

My subjective, out-of-state, relatively unfounded opinion is that UCSD and Davis are probably generally perceived to be "better" than Riverside and Santa Cruz. But other than that nothing seems too extremely wacky to me. My perspective is probably biased by my knowledge of each school's research reputation in my field. I don't really know what the situation is like for undergrads.


The generally accepted order here in CA (I had two daughters recently go to UC) would be Berkely, UCLA, San Diego. It's the extreme downgrade of San Diego which triggered my comment. Reasonable people can argue about the others, though Santa Barbara is very likely correct at 4th.
5.7.2008 8:48pm
DiverDan (mail):
Go Knox!! It always loses out in the US News rankings because of its lack of endowment, but it is an excellent place to actually get an education.
5.7.2008 9:11pm
Edward A. Hoffman (mail):
Philosopher wrote:
Any ranking system of national universities that ranks the University of Alabama before the Unversity of Chicago, Columbia, and Duke is a complete joke. I can't believe you linked to it for anything other than laughs.
You must have read this incorrectly. The CCAP list ranks Alabama 7th among public universities. It ranks 42nd overall. U.S. News ranks it 42nd among publics and 91st overall.

CCAP ranks Chicago 4th, Columbia 6th (its sister school, Barnard, ranks 8th among liberal arts colleges) and Duke 15th. Even if it really had ranked Alabama 7th, Chicago and Columbia still would have done better.
5.7.2008 9:45pm
Hoosier:
>>>It always loses out in the US News rankings because of its lack of endowment

[I'm using all my self-restraint to avoid posting the joke . . .]
5.7.2008 9:54pm
cvt:

The generally accepted order here in CA (I had two daughters recently go to UC) would be Berkeley, UCLA, San Diego. It's the extreme downgrade of San Diego which triggered my comment.

That's correct. By reputation at least, UC San Diego should be third.
5.7.2008 10:09pm
Stephen M (Ethesis) (mail) (www):

just short of a scam?


Short?
5.7.2008 10:28pm
Paul B:
Re: the UC ratings. From an undergraduate perspective, I believe that SD is considered equal to Berkeley and LA by many, especially by the suburban kids who are intimidated by what the city of Berkeley looks like.

Santa Barbara traditionally has had the reputation of being a party school (hey, it's right on the beach!) but has become far more competitive in recent years. Irvine is usually ignored by white students due to its reputation as an Asian school, even by UC standards (Berkeley, LA, and SD all have more Asian than white students). Santa Cruz is still perceived as being a hippie stoner school while Riverside is seen as the bottom of the heap with a large Hispanic component.
5.7.2008 11:27pm
mouse (mail):
Santa Cruz is perceived as being a hippie stoner school because it is.

San Diego has the 2nd best engineering school, and the 2nd best science school of the UCs. Many of its engineering disciplines are on par with Berkeley. It has a far better rep among ugrads than UCLA does these days.

If Mr. Vedder really wanted to show us why his rankings matter, he'd have shown us his metrics. But he doesn't; his article doesn't, and he's not interested in telling us.

He goes out of his way to mention MIT, Duke, and Penn for their discrepancies relative to the USN&WR--but he doesn't even bother to explain why MIT falls short. It ain't because the kids don't do well afterwards. The MIT report on innovation shows MITers as a GDP trump nearly all nations on the planet. Many commenters have already pointed out the ridiculouslness of Who's Who; but Rhodes scholars? Why does that mean anything, either?
5.8.2008 12:07am
ewannama (mail):
common sense - West Point for history, USNA for engineering, but that's what I tell myself after losing four consecutive years against Army.

I also tell myself that there is a bias against Rocky Mountain states. My state law school doesn't even make the rankings...
5.8.2008 12:23am
MarkField (mail):
Paul B.'s description of the UCs is an exact match for what my kids and their friends thought/think.
5.8.2008 12:55am
Laura S.:
Sorry to UCSD attendees and their families, but it is not the equal of Berkeley, not even close.
5.8.2008 1:32am
Aultimer:

The Ace:

It is like a bunch of people sat around and thought of the most unreliable measures of ranking schools and combined them into one glorious list.

No, that's the USNWR rankings based on super-secret self-reported info and clubby reputation scores. At least these measures are public and equally subject to bias and gaming.

It is really that expensive or hard to send surveys to graduates to collect placement and post-hoc satisfaction scores?
5.8.2008 10:15am
cvt:
MIT deserves to be in the top ten. I wouldn't base rankings on Rhodes Scholarships either, but it's my impression that MIT gets more than its share of those. This year, one of the 32 US Rhodes scholarships went to a MIT student.
5.8.2008 11:55am
Javert:

Duke students don't rate their professors high enough.

Need to adjust upward to adjust for the 88 bottom dwellers.
5.8.2008 12:42pm
Hoosier:
But has any undergrad at MIT had sex. Ever?
5.8.2008 4:43pm
Oren:
Hoosier, see here.
5.8.2008 10:00pm