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March 25, 2009 - Image 12

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4B The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wednesday, March 25. 2009 -The Michigan Daily 51B

RANKINGTHE R/
THE KEY TO INTERPRETING COLLEGE RANKINGS IS UNDERSTANDING THE METHODOLOGY BEHIND THEM. WHICH OF

'NKINGS
THESE WILDLY DIFFERING SYSTEMS ARE WORTHWHILE?

BY STEPHEN OSTROWSKI
DAILY STAFF WRITER
THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN calls itself
home of the leaders and best, And while the catch-
phrase might smack of arrogance, there is plenty
of support that this school does lead the pack and
is one of the best - application rates, research
grants, alumni base apd college rankings.
The U.S. News and World Report lists the Uni-
versity as the 26th-best institution of higher educa-
tion in the country, wedged comfortably between
the University of California at Los Angeles and the
University of Southern California, respectively.
Forbes Magazine, meanwhile, listed the Univer-
sity at161st, right between Lake Forest College and
Wisconsin Lutheran College.
In the world of college rankings, neck-breaking
double takes abound. But it's the nature of the
business that discrepancies exist - why would
Forbes begin ranking schools if its list was going to
match up almost exactly with U.S. News, the lead-
ing rankings publication? The flip side to that, of
course, is how could a dozen different publications
differentiate their rankingsysternsenough to make
printing them worthwhile? The trick is widely vary-
ing methodologies so that the same qualities that
got a university in one publication's top 20 barely
warrant a ranking above 200 to another publica-
tion.
College rankings might not be what they appear
to be, but they can't be written off altogether. At
least prospective students don't think so. Accord-
ing to Michigan Cooperative Institutional Research
data, 41.6 percent of students entering the Uni-
versity in Fall 2008 said that rankings were "very
impnrtant" in decidincEwhere tn attend. nmnared

U.S. News 1. HARVARD
and World 2. PRINCETON
3.YALE
Report 26. UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
Undoubtedly the recognized authority on college rankings, the U.S. News list
can be likened to the hyper-masculine, turbo-Neanderthal fourth-grader that dom-
inates the blacktop and crushes the meek competition. But name recognition does
not necessarily translate into respect.
The.Education Conservancy, an education reform organization, has an open letter
on its website signed by several university presidents that criticizes the U.S. News
rankings as "misleading" and says that its system tends to "overlook the importance
of a student in making education happen and overweight the importance of a uni-
versity's prestige in that process."
As detailed on its website (college.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com), U.S. news
obtains its rankings by averaging together differently weighted components. First
is peer assessment, weighed at 25 percent, for which university administrators rate
schools' academic programs on a 1-5 scale. Second is retention rate, weighed at 20
percent, which measures how many students graduate in six years or less and how
many freshmen return the next year. Another 20 percent is faculty resources, con-
sisting of class size, faculty pay, the highest college degrees obtained by professors,
student-faculty ratio and percentage of fulltime faculty.
Then, there is student selectivity (measured by standardized test scores),
accounting for 15 percent. The next 10 percent is financial resources or "average
spending per student on instruction, research, student services, and related educa-
tion expenditures."
See U.S. NEWS AND REPORT, Page 85


LW
0
V

16. BROWN UNIVERSITY
17. RICE UNIVERSITY
18. EMORY UNIVERSITY
18. UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME
18. VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY
21. UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA - BERKELEY
22 CARNEGIE MELLON UNIVERSITY
23. GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY
23. UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA
25. UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA - LOS ANGELES
26. UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN - ANN ARBOR
27. UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
28. TUFTS UNIVERSITY
28. WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY
30. UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA - CHAPEL HILL
31. BRANDEIS UNIVERSITY
32. COLLEGE OF WILLIAM AND MARY
33. NEW YORK UNIVERSITY
34. BOSTON COLLEGE
35. GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
35. LEHIGH UNIVERSITY
SOURCE: U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT

Forbes 1. PRINCETON
CAUFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
Magazine 3. HARVARD
161. UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
Playing apparent foil to the U.S. News is Forbes Magazine, whose rankings are
based on "the quality of education (universities) provide and how much their stu-
dents achieve."
. Rankings are determined in conjunction with the Center for College Afford-
ability and Productivity and include five components. First, weighed at 25 percent,
is the number of alumni in the yearly "Marquis Who's Who in America" list, a
directory of influential people in the nation. A description of the rankings system's
methodology on Forbescom said this measurement was selected over the peer
assessment method used by U.S. News and student opinion prioritized heavily in
Princeton'Review. The Forbes list focuses on alumni achievement more directly
than any other rankings.
Accounting for another 25 percent is student evaluation of professors, compiled
from entries on RateMyProfessor.com. Anyone who's posted a too-harsh review
on the website out of temporary anger might see how this measurement could be
imperfect. But Forbes attests that the method is sound, as the website serves as
a sort of consumer review forum free from the control of university administra-
tors.
Rounding out the list's components are four-year graduation rate (16.66percent),
average student debt (16.66 percent), and number of awards won by students and
faculty. Among the awards considered are the Rhodes Scholarship and-Fulbright
grants for students and the Nobel Prize and Guggenheim Fellowship for faculty.
See FORBES MAGAZINE, Page 8B
151. OTTERBEIN COLLEGE
152. JOHN CARROLL UNIVERSITY
153. HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES
154. FURMAN UNIVERSITY
155. UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS, URBANA-CHAMPAIGN
156. UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND
157. MARYVILLE COLLEGE
158. LEBANON VALLEY COLLEGE
159 GOSHEN COLLEGE
160. LAKE FOREST COLLEGE
161. UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN - ANN ARBOR
162. WISCONSIN LUTHERAN COLLEGE
163 OKLAHOMA BAPTIST UNIVERSITY
164. CENTENARY COLLEGE OF LOUISIANA
165. WHITWORTH COLLEGE
166. HOPE COLLEGE
167. UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
168. MARIETTA COLLEGE
169. UNITED STATES COAST GUARD ACADEMY
170. LEWIS AND CLARK COLLEGE
171. THOMAS AQUINAS COLLEGE
SOURCE: FORBES MAGAZINE

Washington tMIT
Monthly College -.CLBREE
3. PENN STATE
Rankings 18. UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
Harvard is ranked 28th. Enough said?
On its website,The Washington Monthly prefaces its rankings with the follow-
ing: "Welcome to The Washington Monthly College Rankings. Unlike other college
guides, such as the U.S. News and World Report, this guide asks not what colleges
can do for you, but what colleges are doing for their country." Kennedy allusions
aside, The Washington Monthly aims to create rankings of colleges based on one
question: "Are they doing well by doing good?"
To actually measure universities' devotion to the adage "do good by doing good,"
The Washington Monthly determines its rankings by three components. The first
is a school's capability to perform as an "engine of social mobility"based on the pro-
jected graduation rate of Pell students (grants received by lower-income students).
Factored in next is research in the humanities and sciences, determined by
money spent on projects, the number of PhDs awarded in Science and Engineering
and the number of alums who go on to obtain PhDs.
Finally, The Washington Monthly weighs service to the community, measured
by percentage of students in ROTC, alums in the Peace Corps and grants given to
community service projeets. Michigan is one of six institutions to send over 2,000
volhnteers to the Peace Corps, according to the Peace Corps website.
Any rankings system that casts Harvard outside the top 10 is pretty anomalous
- but keeping in mind President Kennedy's designation of the Peace Corps on the
steps of -the Michigan Union, any rankings system that gives priority to student
service seems pretty noble as well.
8. CORNELL UNIVERSITY
9. SOUTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY
10. UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, DAVIS
11. UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN, MADISON
12. YALE UNIVERSITY
13. UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME
14. UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO
15. UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON
16. UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS, URBANA-CHAMPAIGN
17. UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS, AUSTIN
18. UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN - ANN ARBOR
19. COLLEGE OF WILAM AND MARY
20. UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA
21. UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER
22. UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, RIVERSIDE
23. DUKE UNIVERSITY
24. ALABAMA A&M UNIVERSITY
25. CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY
26. RICE UNIVERSITY,
27. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY, COLUMBUS
28. HARVARD UNIVERSITY
SOURCE: WASHINGTON MONTHLY

Global 1. HARVARD
Language OFMIATY OF MICIGAN
Monitor
Perhaps the most novel rankings system belongs to the Global Language
Monitor, a linguistics organization ranking schools based on, according to lan-
guagemonitor.com, a school's "appearance on the Internet, throughout the blo-
gosphere, as well as global print and electronic media."
This system seeks to measure prominence of a school's "brand name" by
counting how many times its name is mentioned online as well as in print and
electronic media. GLM attains this information with its "Trendtopper analysis"
system; which the company has used to track trends in word usage over the last
five years.
GLM President Paul J.J. Payack said on the website that the students who go
farthest are those who carry the best name recognition.
"Prospective students, alumni, employers, and the world at large believe that
students who are graduated from such institutions will carry on the all the hall-
marks of that particular school," Payack said. "Our TrendTopper analysis is a
way of seeing the schools through the eyes of the world at large."
That is good news for Michigan students: GLM has the University ranked
third, behind only Harvard and Columbia.
GLM's ranking system is certainly an innovative idea, given the increasingly
digital, Twitter addicted world. But should-GLM's rankings grow in.clout, uni-
versities might try to inflate their rank with obnoxious viral videos. It'll be a sad
day when a university tries to garner attention via "I'm On a Boat"-type YouTube
stardom.
1. HARVARD UNIVERSITY
2. COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY
3. UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN - ANN ARBOR
4. UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY
5. STANFORD UNIVERSITY
6. UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO
7. UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN
8. YALE UNIVERSITY
9. PRINCETON UNIVERSITY
10. CORNELL UNIVERSITY
11. UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA
12. JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY
13. DUKE UNIVERSITY
14, BOSTON UNIVERSITY
15. NEW YORK UNIVERSITY
16. UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON
17. GEORGIA TECH
18. UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA BARBARA
19. MIT
20. UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
21. BOSTON UNIVERSITY
SOURCE: THE GLOBAL LANGUAGt MONITOR

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