Education September 12, 2017: Princeton and Williams again top of US News’ 2018 Best Colleges amid accusations of elitism

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EDUCATION

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

U.S. News & World Report again has Princeton University and Williams College topping their list of Best Colleges for 2018. (Wikipedia Commons)

While international university rankings are reporting upheaval, there is one ranking that remains rock solid in its findings, U.S. News & World Report again has Princeton University and Williams College topping their list of Best Colleges. U.S. News, the standard-bearers in the national university and college rankings game released on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017, their first of two major college and university rankings for the season, their Best Colleges rankings for 2018 online. Princeton, Williams, and Berkley all saw repeat visits to the top of the rankings. Princeton is №1 of all Best National Universities for the seventh year, while Williams remains atop the Best National Liberal Arts Colleges for the past 15 years. This year’s ranking was rather indecisive with multiple schools vying for a single spot.

Public universities some changes in this year’s ranking. Berkley is no longer the only university in the University of California system helming the Top Public Schools among National Universities; UC Los Angeles, both tying for first place, joins it. Berkley still №1 as it has been for the last 20 years. There is, however, a new king in first place in the Top Public Schools among National Liberal Arts Colleges ranking. The United States Military Academy at West Point takes over from former honor taker the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis as the best public liberal arts college. As much as US News is celebrated for its king maker status it is becoming increasingly under fire for claims that their Best Colleges ranking fuels elitism and shuts out low-income students seeking degrees because they would hinder schools’ quest to rise in the rankings.

The Ivy League and elite universities dominate the Best National Universities. Princeton remains on top, followed by Harvard again in second, while the University of Chicago and Yale continue to tie for third place. Three elite schools now tie for fifth place, Columbia, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Stanford. MIT leaped two spots to end up in the top five. The University of Pennsylvania retains the eighth spot, but no longer shares it with Duke University. Duke drops one to fall into ninth place. Rounding out the top ten is the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), who moves back up two to retake the tenth place after leaving the top 10 briefly last year. John Hopkins University leaves the top 10, to tie for 11th place. The top thirty has a new school with the New York University joining the esteemed ranks rising six to 30. NYU raised their profile by having additional campuses in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai and marketing themselves as a “new type of global, private research university.”

There are also plenty of colleges tied in the Best National Liberal Arts Colleges ranking, listing the best primary undergraduate schools specializing in the arts and sciences. The top two remain unchanged, with Williams College on top and Amherst in second. Now the third place is a three-way tie with Bowdoin, Swarthmore and Wellesley vying for the one spot. Bowdoin is the greatest gainer in the bunch was Bowdoin moving up from sixth, while Swarthmore moving up one from tied for fourth. Middlebury College loses two positions moving down from tied for fourth to tie with sixth with Pomona College, which moves up one from seventh. Carleton College moves down one to tie for eighth with Claremont McKenna, who moves up from ninth. Two colleges now vie for tenth, Davidson College moves down one, and Washington and Lee University moves up one into the top 10.

In the lists of best public schools, University of California-Berkeley is longer the lone king atop of the Top Public Schools among National Universitiesranking. In its 20th year, Berkley now co-reigns with fellow University of California school, UC Los Angeles, both schools tie for 21st place in the Best National Universities list. UCLA standing rose because this past year it became the first university in the country to receive 100,000 applications for the 2021 freshman class. The University of Virginia maintains its third spot. The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor also stays in its spot at fourth, with the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill still rounding out the top five.

The ranking’s biggest shake up is the Top Public Schools among National Liberal Arts Colleges list, with the United States Military Academy grabbing up the top spot from the former king the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis. West Point ties for 12th on the national ranking. The United States Naval Academy now slips to second and is the 21st school on the national list. This is the first time since 2009–10 that West Point led Annapolis. The United States Air Force Academy remains in third. Another military college the Virginia Military Institute takes the fourth place alone this year. St. Mary’s College of Maryland rounds out the top five.

US News publishes their “Best Colleges” ranking lists in different categories including National Universities, National Liberal Arts Colleges, Top Public Universities and Liberal Arts Colleges, Regional Universities and Regional CollegesA-plus Schools for B StudentsBest Value Schools for universities and liberal arts colleges, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities. In total, more than 1,800 colleges and universities were profiled.

Brian Kelly, editor and chief content officer of U.S. News, commented on the value of the rankings to help with college choice decision making. Kelly explained, “Before taking out student loans or writing a tuition check, families should research graduation and retention rates. These are important indicators of how well a school supports its students both academically and financially.” Continuing Kelly remarked, “Colleges that saddle students with debt but do little to support them through graduation are contributing to a vicious cycle — without that valuable degree, students will have a difficult time landing well-paying jobs and repaying their loans, which puts them in a precarious financial situation early on in their careers.”

Although public universities and liberal arts colleges are given separate lists, the same is not done with private universities and liberal arts colleges. The US News’ ranking categories are based on Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. US News Best Colleges’ methodology involves looking at over 1,800 universities and colleges to create their four rankings; the results are determined by “15 measures of academic quality,” taken from the Common Data Set. The Best Colleges lists rely heavily on “student outcomes” predominantly “graduation and retention rates” which represent 30 percent of the deciding factor in the ranking. The main criterion includes “graduation and retention rates, undergraduate academic reputation, student selectivity, faculty resources, financial resources, alumni giving and graduation rate performance.”

This year US News tweaked their methodology adding new elements to give seniors and their parents more information for the college decision making. One factors into the ranking the other does not. For the National Universities under graduation rates US News now looks at the “proportion of degrees awarded in the science, technology, engineering and math fields.”

US News is also dipping into the return on investment (ROI) trend in college rankings and will now provide “salary data for alumni of individual schools, supplied by the online analyst PayScale.” The salary data, however, is still not part of the ranking methodology. Robert Morse, chief data strategist for U.S. News remarked on the new ROI addition, saying. “Using salary as a heavily weighted rankings factor ignores academic quality, which we believe is more important for prospective students and their parents when considering which school to attend.” Morse, however, pointed out, “Not everyone is interested in a high-salaried career. Secondly, the salary data — while important — is not comprehensive enough to do an analytic school-by-school comparison.”

The US News rankings guidebook and companion website include over 50 ranking lists. The methodology US News uses benefits private universities, and the rubrics are “based on school reputation surveys; student selectivity; faculty resources; alumni giving; graduation and retention rates; and total spending per student on education.” In contrast public universities “rely heavily on state funding, often have tighter budgets, far larger enrollment and a broader mandate for accessibility than private institutions.”

US News’ Best Colleges list has become more controversial in recent years because of its focus on the cliché Ivy League and elite universities. As the Washington Post pointed out, calling the ranking “an annual sorting exercise that draws scrutiny from students, parents, and alumni but scorn from critics who say it’s a pointless game of prestige.” A day before the 2018 edition’s release Politico went further in their investigative article “How U.S. News college rankings promote economic inequality on campus.” The article’s subtitle is even more politically loaded, saying, “Once ladders of social mobility, universities increasingly reinforce existing wealth, fueling a backlash that helped elect Donald Trump.”

The article argues that the US News rubrics have become ingrained in universities strategic plans that they “create incentives for schools to favor wealthier students over less wealthy applicants.” The top one percent are catering to the top one percent rather than giving an opportunity to the bottom 60 percent. Politico argues that admission decisions and financial priorities are determined by the schools’ ranking aspirations and that is threatening students from middle and low earning families.

Among the criteria most being altered include, “student performance, lower acceptance rates, performing well on surveys, and alumni giving. Despite all the claims of diversity in admissions, the Ivy League is nearly three-quarters filled with the “top quartile of income earners” and only less than five percent from the bottom quartile, with those in the lowest never even going on to complete their bachelor’s degrees if they are started. Private and public schools are continuing the trend just to up their prestige on rankings, primarily US News Best Colleges.

The stereotypical poor and white are the most affected, and as Politico noted fueled the 2016 election that saw Donald Trump rise to the presidency. Walter Benn Michaels, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago told Politico “Elite colleges are part of the apparatus that produces Trumpism and produces working class, white resentment.” While Richard Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation claimed, “It fits perfectly into Trump’s narrative … Basically, if you’re a low-income or working-class white student who works hard and you find out that what matters in admissions is who your daddy is, or what your race is, you’re completely left out.”

Politico’s research concluded US News is the worst of the rankings to continue the descent into economic equality in higher education. US News is one of the oldest and the most prestigious national ranking started in 1983, which the magazine called “the 800-pound gorilla of American higher education.” US News’ methodology factors in university spending on faculty salary and on students, which rises up tuition to the astronomical rates seniors are now facing as they embark on college. Universities are attempting to reap the most rewards by accepting students they know would succeed, the wealthy ones. F. King Alexander, president of Louisiana State University was the harshest in his opinion, saying, “I think U.S. News has done more damage to the higher education marketplace than any single enterprise that’s out there…. I call it ‘the greatest inefficiency ranking in America.’”

The Politico article accuses US News of stifling the increase in college degrees earned and preventing low-income students from acquiring them. Mitchell Stevens, a Stanford University sociologist called the U.S. News “the machinery that organizes and governs this competition.” Stevens called the ranking a peculiar form of governance” in higher education “because schools essentially use them to make sense of who they are relative to each other. And families use them basically as a guide to the higher education marketplace.” The rankings rubrics have become benchmarks for universities and state governments who yearn for a top ranking university in their midst at the public school level.

US News fiercely denies the negative effects their king maker status has on higher education. Robert Morse on the defensive told Politico, “We’re not setting the admissions standards at any schools. Our main mission for our rankings is to provide information for prospective students and their parents, and we’re measuring academic quality. That’s what we’ve been doing. We’ve been doing this for 30 years, and we believe we’ve been driving transparency in higher education data. Our methodology and the data we’ve chosen for the best colleges rankings is to measure which schools are the top in academic excellence.”

US News also denies their methodology affects universities policies, but administrators contradict that claim. Student selectivity has lead universities to accept students with higher scores on the SAT and ACT exams, where students from wealthier families do better because of access to preparation courses, materials, and tutors. The acceptance rate game also plays against low-income students, as acceptance rates have dropped; schools are becoming more selective as more students apply. Early admission and decisions programs are accepting more of the share of students but less low-income students apply for early decision.

A university financial and faculty resources matter a lot to US News, but also lock out low-income students as universities want to free up funding so they stay away from students that need financial and funding. Instead, to increase their rank, universities are spending more to hire faculty and ensure class sizes fall below the ideal 20 students per professor. Universities and colleges are also paying their faculty more. To acquire the necessary funding schools are increasing tuition and skirting financial needy students. Public universities are feeling the crunch the most and they are the ones raising tuition.

The all-important undergraduate academic reputation has college presidents, high school guidance counselors, college advisors rate universities, and colleges. A majority of high schools especially in low-income areas do not even have a counselor for their school, giving wealthy schools another advantage. Universities are also peddling to students that they know will keep up the alumni-giving rate, this is especially rampant among elite schools. The Ivy League particularly Harvard are preferring legacy admissions, with 40 percent of Harvard’s incoming class having a parent who graduated from the school. To ensure the money flows in low-income students are shut out.

Only two of US News’s metrics graduation and retention rates and graduation rate performance benefit low-income students, however, to ensure rates remain high schools turn to wealthier students who will graduate. Graduation rate performance is the most beneficial to low-income students because it “recognizes schools that are working to help the most disadvantaged students.” Morse argues the ranking’s rubrics are not creating biases but “creating a better academic environment” and “improvements across the board.”

Universities that play the game are rewarded and those who choose instead to help low-income students are punished in the rankings. President Barack Obama decried the rankings culture and attempted to counter US News’ influence by creating a rival ranking, The College Scorecard, which the Trump Administration is continuing. The ranking has its problems and needs to bolter its credibility, now the scorecard does not even threaten US News in the least. US News still dominates and does not care about the counter effects. In the end, despite the controversies that dog US News’ ranking and other rankings for fueling elitism or other reasons, as long as the rankings continue and equate prestige universities and colleges will continue playing the game perpetuating the problems.

Best National Universities

1 Princeton University (NJ) (1)
2 Harvard University (MA) (2)
3 University of Chicago (IL) (4)
3 Yale University (CT) (3)
5 Columbia University (NY) (5)
5 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (7)
5 Stanford University (CA) (5)
8 University of Pennsylvania (8)
9 Duke University (8)
10 California Institute of Technology (Caltech) (11)

Best National Liberal Arts Colleges

1 Williams College (MA) (1)
2 Amherst College (MA) (2)
3 Bowdoin College (ME) (6)
4 Swarthmore College (PA) (4)
3 Wellesley College (MA) (3)
6 Middlebury College (4)
6 Pomona College (7)
8 Carleton College (7)
8 Claremont McKenna College (9)
10 Davidson College (9)
10 Washington and Lee University (11)

Top Public Schools

National Universities

1 University of California-Berkeley (1)
1 University of California-Los Angeles (2)
3 University of Virginia (3)
4 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (4)
5 University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (4)

Liberal Arts Colleges

1 United States Military Academy (NY) (2)
2 United States Naval Academy (MD) (1)
3 United States Air Force Academy (CO) (3)
4 Virginia Military Institute (4)
5 St. Mary’s College of Maryland

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

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Education August 10, 2017: Harvard University tops Forbes America’s Top College 2017 for the first time

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EDUCATION

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

In their tenth annual ranking of America’s Top 100 Colleges 2018 Forbes finally crowned America’s most coveted and oldest university handing Harvard University their first top spot on the ranking. Wikipedia Commons

There is a new king on the top of Forbes Magazine national ranking of American colleges and universities. On August 2, 2017, Forbes released their tenth annual ranking of America’s Top 100 Colleges finally crowning America’s most coveted and oldest university, Harvard University in the top spot. This year’s top public school is the United States Naval Academy, while the University of California, Berkeley is the top public school non-military. The ranking heavily relies on return on investment with the subheading the 600+ schools worth the investment. The ranking looks at the top colleges but also includes separate lists for Top Public and Private Colleges as well as top colleges in the country’s four regions.

This year’s overall top three represents high school seniors’ university wish list with Harvard number one, followed by last year’s top college Stanford in second and Yale University in third. As Forbes pointed out, Harvard “is the gold standard of American higher education” and it finally “lives up to its reputation and tops the list as the best in the U.S.” Harvard does the best when it comes to the rubrics Forbes uses. Forbes indicates that 87% graduate” in four years and 97% in six years.” Harvard graduates have a “mid-career median salary of $123,000 and a median debt of some $7,500.”

The top ten radically changed from last year’s ranking with Ivy League and major prestigious research universities dominating. The nation’s most selective school Stanford drops from the top spot to second place. Yale moves three spots to the third position. Princeton University drops one place from third to fourth. Rounding out the top five is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which stagnates and remains at fifth. As for the rest the California Institute of Technology, Caltech moves up 33 spots to the top ten, placing in at sixth, as does the University of Pennsylvania into the top ten at seventh, and Duke University is also a new entry at eighth. Brown University is down one to nine while 2015 former top college Pomona moves down four from sixth to tenth.

Forbes also ranks separately, private and public colleges and the best amongst the country’s four regions, Northeast, South, Midwest, and West. The “gold standard” Harvard also tops the private colleges’ list, with “coveted” Stanford slipping to second place. As Forbes points out, Harvard and Stanford “are, undoubtedly, the two foremost universities in the country today and spar with each other for the finest students, professors and researchers.” Yale University is again third, followed by Princeton University in fourth, MIT in fifth and CalTech in sixth mirroring the top six in the overall top colleges ranking list. As for the rest of the top ten, the University of Pennsylvania is in seventh, followed by Duke University (8), Brown (9) and Pomona College in tenth.

The new top public school is the U.S. Naval Academy, beating the U.S. Military Academy, who has held the top spot since 2014, and now slips to second. The top non-military school is public university U.C. Berkeley at third. The public colleges top ten is divided almost evenly between military academies and flagship and research state schools. The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor move up to fourth place and surprisingly overtakes the University of Virginia, which slips to fifth. The U.S. Air Force Academy comes in at sixth falling three spots, the only military academy to do so. In seventh is the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, while eighth goes to the University of California-Los Angeles. In ninth is list newcomer the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, who last year was number 61. In tenth place is the “second oldest” college in the College of William and Mary.

The regional ranking with the highest median on “the overall FORBES Top Colleges list” is the Northeast where the Ivies reside. As Forbes highlights the region is “Home to many of the nation’s oldest and most renowned universities, the Northeast is an academic goldmine. The entire top ten is filled with Ivy League colleges and those Liberal Arts Colleges that belong to the little Ivies. Harvard is also perched atop the Northeast ranking, and with Stanford out of the mix, Yale moves up to second place, while Princeton moves up to third, followed by MIT in fourth and the University of Pennsylvania in fifth. Except for Williams College at the eighth spot, the rest of the top ten is filled with Ivies, Brown (6), Dartmouth College (7), Columbia University (9), and Cornell in tenth.

In the South, Duke University is again the top “Southern College,” after losing the title last year, by falling into second place. Four North Carolina schools in the top ten, but Virginia takes top honors with the most schools in the top 25. Duke is also the only southern school also appearing in the overall top ten. In second place is another private school, Rice University, “the Harvard of the South.” Another private school Vanderbilt University is in third. All three are in the overall top 30, with Rice at number 22 and Vanderbilt at 27. Private liberal arts college, Washington and Lee University is in fourth and Davidson College reaches the fifth spot. The University of Virginia comes in at sixth and is the top Southern public school and one of three in the top ten. As for the rest of the top ten, in seventh place is the College of William and Mary, in eighth is Wake Forest University. In the ninth spot is Emory University and in tenth place is the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

In the Midwest, the top college is the University of Chicago, who ranks at number 16 overall. It has been years since U of Chicago topped the Midwestern schools. Notre Dame University falls to second place after reigning the list in the past two years, Notre Dame is number 26 overall. The list represents a mix of top tier universities and liberal arts colleges, but the top ten only has two public schools represented. In third place is Northwestern University; followed by Washington University in St Louis in fourth and rounding out the top five is Carleton College. The highest-ranking public school is in sixth place with the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. In seventh place is Oberlin College, followed by Grinnell College (8) and Kenyon College (9). In tenth place is public school, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Stanford University dominates the Western schools, the country’s most selective university and most coveted tops the list by a long shot. The western rankings’ top three are all in the overall top ten, represent a mix of private, public top tier universities and private liberal arts, and STEM colleges. In second place is Caltech and Pomona College is third. In fourth place is Claremont McKenna College, and rounding out the top five is Harvey Mudd College. The top Western public school is the University of California, Berkeley at sixth place, followed by the topped ranked Western military college, the U.S. Air Force Academy in seventh. Scripps Colleges comes in the eighth spot, while University of Southern California (9) and the University of California, Los Angeles (10 complete the top ten.

In recent years, Liberal Arts Colleges dominated Forbes’s overall ranking, topping the list in 2014 with Williams College and in 2015 with Pomona College and keeping the top ten split with the Ivies up to last year. This year, only Pomona hangs on in the top ten, while the Ivies see the return to the spotlight along with the “highly selective private” universities. STEM and “research-oriented universities” are gaining in the ranking over Liberal Arts Colleges, notably with MIT and Caltech both entering the top ten. Military academies also do well in Forbes ranking with The U.S. Naval Academy surpassing usual top school the U.S. Military Academy for the last spot in the top 20. Forbes also notes bigger public universities are faring better than some of the smaller private schools. The Northeast “dominates” the top 25 with 17 colleges, while the West has five and the Midwest only has two colleges represented.

Forbes like US News weighs graduation and retention rates high in the listing’s methodology. Forbes grades each college on four categories “quality academics and student satisfaction, on-time graduation rates, low student debt and high earning potential and career success. These top ranking schools have the right combination of “age, location, endowment and low debt for students.” Like US News, Forbes is riding the wave of ranking the best value colleges, determining Return on Investment, ROI. Forbes worked with the Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP) to determine “What are students getting out of college.”

Caroline Howard, “Digital Managing Editor, Forbes Media” commented on Forbes’ goals with the America’s Top Colleges ranking. Howard explained, “Before you become a college student, you need to think like a graduate. Our goal is to showcase the colleges and universities that deliver the best return on your education investment dollars: low student debt, on-time graduation, quality academics, high earning potential and career success.”

Forbes’s America’s Top Colleges’ overall top ten:
1. Harvard University (4)
2. Stanford University (1)
3. Yale University (6)
4. Princeton University (3)
5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (5)
6. California Institute of Technology (39)
7. University of Pennsylvania
8. Duke University
9. Brown University (8)
10. Pomona College (7)

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Education June 15, 2017: Harvard again tops Times Higher Education’s World Reputation Rankings for seventh-year

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By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

The crown jewel of the Ivy League, Harvard University again is the world most prestigious university reputation wise. Photo: Harvard.edu 

When it comes to reputation, no university in the world can surpass Harvard, who is again the top university. On Thursday, June 14, 2017, The Times Higher Education released their seventh annual World Reputation Ranking with Harvard University remaining in the top spot for six years in a row. The top three are all American universities, with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the second place, and Stanford University in third. British universities round out the top five with the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford both tied for fourth place.

There was little movement in the top 10. There was one big change The University of Chicago moves up two into the top 10 and the ninth spot bumping out Ivy League Columbia University, which falls from ninth to 12th place. The only other change is the University of Oxford moves up to tie with fellow British school The University of Cambridge.

Otherwise, Harvard remains on top as Forbes points out, “Harvard can, as of this month, claim another distinction: the most reputable institution of higher learning on Earth-an honor it has enjoyed for the past six years.” For the six of the past seven years; MIT has been in second place. Eight of the top 10 were American universities, including Stanford University, Princeton University, Yale University, the University of California, Berkeley, the California Institute of Technology and new entry the University of Chicago.

The ranking is considered, “the definitive list of the world’s most prestigious universities.” Phil Baty, the rankings editor for THE, explains, “Reputation is the global currency of higher education. It may be subjective; it may not always be fair, but it matters deeply.” THE’s World Reputation Rankings “have become a major fixture in the higher education calendar — serving as a yearly global academic brand audit and attracting news headlines across the world.”

The ranking is international, with 19 countries represented in the top 100 universities. The United States has the most schools in the ranking but one less this year, with 42 institutions represented and Harvard the top ranking. American universities, however, are seeing a decline, with 20 schools falling in the ranking and only eight improving their positions. In the second place, the United Kingdom has the second most universities with 10, and the University of Cambridge and Oxford University tied at fourth, as the country’s the top school.

The THE is blaming Donald Trump being elected President of the United States and Brexit, for American and British schools losing prestige. THE rankings editor, Phil Baty pointed out about American institutions’ decline, “Claiming 42 places in the top 100 list (one fewer than last year), the US is the most-represented country in the table. But it will have to watch out for the rise of Asia as several of the continent’s higher education stars overtake well-established American powerhouses. Overall 20 of the U.S.’s 42 representatives have declined since last year and only eight have improved; the rest are stagnant.”

The other factor is the rise of Asian universities. The top Asian university is the University of Japan sitting at number 11, barely outside the top ten. There are also two other Asian schools in the top 20, China’s Tsinghua University and Peking University at the number 14 and 17 positions. Since 2011, Tsinghua moved up 21 spots, while Peking moved up 26 spots, both incredible leaps.

As THE indicates the University of Japan ranks higher than Ivy League Columbia University, and that Tsinghua University and Peking University are leading Imperial College London, the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell University, two Ivy League universities and a prestigious British school. THE writer Ellie Bothwell comments in the press release, “China’s Tsinghua University and Peking University both leapfrogged the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell University in the table this year while the University of Tokyo now has a stronger reputation than Columbia University. Meanwhile, Seoul National University is now considered more prestigious than the University of California, Davis.”

The three Asian universities fare better than any European institutions, where the top school ETH Zurich — Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich is only 22. European universities are also “losing ground” to Asian schools. China has six schools in the top 100 and Japan also has six ranking as does Germany, the European country with the most universities in the top 100. Both China and Japan had each one more school ranking in the top 100 than last year, while in 2015’s ranking, Japan and China had only two universities each in the top 100.

Canada has three universities in the top 100, with the University of Toronto, the country’s top school falls one to number 24. Meanwhile, the University of British Columbia is in second place in the country drops three spots to number 40. McGill University, which usually ranks as the top university in Canadian rankings, is only third in THE’s World Reputation Ranking of all Canadian schools, and also lost ground moving down three spots to tie for number 42 with the University of California, San Francisco, and LMU Munich.

The rankings are entirely based on the opinion of the institutions, as THE explains, “The rankings are entirely subjective — they are based purely on an annual opinion survey.” The methodology for determining the rankings consists of sending the survey to “more than 10,000 top scholars from around the world. Each academic was asked to name up to 15 universities that they believe are the best for research and teaching in their discipline. Votes for institutions based on research prowess were given twice the weight of those for teaching.”

THE’s Reputation Ranking mirrors THE’s World University Rankings in that most of the top 10 are the same but in vastly different spots. The biggest difference is that Yale University is included within the Reputation Ranking’s top 10, but misses it as 12th place in the World Ranking. While ETH Zurich — Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, which is number 9 in the world ranking is absent from the Reputation Ranking top 10 and does not even hit the top 20. The World Ranking is far more objective than the perception of reputation and relies on factors including “teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook.”

Top 10 World Reputation Rankings

2017 reputation rank — 2016 reputation rank — Institution Country — 2016–17 WUR position

1, 1 Harvard University, United States, 6
2, 2 Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States 5
3, 3 Stanford University, United States, 3
4, 4 University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, 4
4, 5 University of Oxford, United Kingdom, 1
6, 6 University of California, Berkeley, United States, 10
7, 7 Princeton University, United States, 7
8, 8 Yale University, United States, 12
9, 11 University of Chicago 10
10, 9 California Institute of Technology, United States, 2

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Education July 11, 2017: Princeton University again best ROI topping MONEY’s Best Colleges for Your Money 2017

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By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Princeton University is again MONEY’s top school in their annual Best Colleges for your Money for 2017, proving the Ivy League school also has a good Return on Investment for their graduates. Wikipedia Commons

If high school seniors and their parents are looking for the best return on investment in choosing a college MONEY Magazine just named Princeton University the best value for the buck among Americans colleges. Princeton was also MONEY’s top school last year. Time’s MONEY Magazine released on Monday, July 10, 2017, their annual Best Colleges for your Money for 2017. MONEY’s rankings differ from the majority of university rankings that are published each year in that factor in costs and ROI as some of the most important factors leading to a far more diverse top ten than any other ranking, filled with the Ivy League, private and public colleges and universities dubbed by MONEY as the “Paycheck League.” MONEY, PayScale and Kiplinger’s release annual rankings focusing on value and ROI all have diverse universities in the top spots. These rankings aim to give students a different perspective on the financial and investment aspects than the majority of rankings that focus just on academics and reputation.

This year’s top ten saw a major shake-up from 2016 with the exception of the top spot belonging to Princeton. Many of the schools have dropped out completely from the top 10, while others moved up or down drastically. This year’s number two the City University of New York, Bernard M. Baruch College catapulted to the top ten replacing the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, who moves down to third place. In fourth place is the University of California at Berkeley, who moved up one after tying for fifth place last year. Last year’s fourth place school Rice University moves out of the top ten to 12th place.

This year two schools vie for fifth place the University of California at Los Angeles and Stanford University. UCLA is a new arrival to the top ten moving up 15 from number 20, while the country’s most selective college Stanford University moves up five from the tenth spot. Last year Brigham Young University, Provo tied for fifth with Berkley, this year it drops from the top ten drastically to number 105. The University of California at Irvine moves up to take seventh place from number 16 last year. Last year’s number seven Amherst College moves down over 20 spots to number 28.

In the eighth position is QS World University Ranking leader Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) moving into the top ten from 11th place in 2016. Last year’s eighth-place the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art tumbled this year not only out of the top ten but out of the top 100 to number 124. At number nine is the University of California at Davis the third University of California system school featured in the top ten. UC Davis moves up from number 17. Last year’s ninth place school, the University of Virginia — Main Campus moved down to number 11. Harvard University, one of the most coveted of the Ivy League world and national leader sees one of its lowest rankings on MONEY’s list falling from third to tenth place.

MONEY ranking is the most well known, PayScale and Kiplinger’s also release rankings focusing on value and ROI all have a different mix of colleges at the top of their list than other rankings. Ann Rossbach, president of the Independent Educational Consultants Association explained why this type of ranking is important. Rossbach told MONEY, “Families are really looking for, return on investment. They want to know the real numbers.” The top school on MONEY’s list are coined “the Paycheck League” by the magazine, “Nowadays, bragging rights are going to colleges in what we’ll dub the “Paycheck League”-schools that the real numbers show to provide a boost in the job market.”

For their methodology MONEY examined 711 colleges, up six from 2016. The magazine looks at 27 indicators that compromise three major areas that “measure educational quality, affordability, and alumni success.” The 711 colleges had to meet certain criteria, have a minimum of 500 students, data to analyze, not be in “financial distress,” have to have a median graduation rate or “valued added” rate. Under quality of education, there were minimum requirements, including a “six-year graduation rate, value-added graduation rate, peer quality, instructor quality” and minimum “financial troubles.”

Under affordability MONEY examined “Net price of a degree, debt, Student loan repayment and default risk, Value-added student loan repayment measures and Affordability for low-income students.” Under outcomes or alumni success looking at “graduates’ earnings, Earnings adjusted by majors, college scorecard 10-year earnings, estimated market value of alumni’s average job skills, value-added earnings, job meaning and socio-economic mobility index.” Socio-economic mobility index is a new indicator the magazine added this year. MONEY “used statistical techniques to turn all the data points into a single score and ranked the schools based on those scores.”

Other ROI rankings include PayScale who released their annual ROI Report: Best Value Colleges on May 3. PayScale had the United States Merchant Marine Academy as the top school followed by Harvey Mudd College in second and then MIT in third. In fourth place were SUNY Maritime College and Colorado School of Mines in coming in fifth place. As part of their methodology, PayScale examines the costs to attend the college and then the return how much a graduate will make in the 20 years after graduation.

Kiplinger’s released their Best College Values 2017 in December 2016 where Swarthmore College topped the list. Coming in second was Davidson College, third Princeton, fourth Duke University and rounding out the top five was Washington and Lee University. As Kiplinger’s points out their methodology revolves around their “definition of best value: a blend of academic quality and affordability.” Kiplinger’s defines their academic requirements as a “competitive admission rate, a high four-year graduation rate, and a low student-faculty ratio.” Affordability consists of “schools with a reasonable price tag, generous financial aid for students who qualify, and low student debt at graduation.” They also look at “future earnings data” determining the average salary for a graduate ten years after completing their degree.”

MONEY’s top ten Best Colleges for Your Money 2017

1. Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey (1)
Annual price without aid: $65,300
Annual price with aid: $19,300
Early career earnings: $67,600
2. City University of New York, Bernard M. Baruch College, New York, New York
Annual price without aid: $31,400
Annual price with aid: $9,800
Early career earnings: $51,600
3. University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, Michigan (2)
Annual price without aid: $29,500
Annual price with aid: $17,000
Early career earnings: $61,200
4. University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, California (5 tied)
Annual price without aid: $37,200
Annual price with aid: $17,900
Early career earnings: $62,100
5. University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
Annual price without aid: $35,300
Annual price with aid: $14,900
Early career earnings: $53,300
5. Stanford University, Stanford, California (10)
Annual price without aid: $68,100
Annual price with aid: $20,800
Early career earnings: $70,300
7. University of California at Irvine, Irvine, California (16)
Annual price without aid: $33,900
Annual price with aid: $15,800
Early career earnings: $52,000
8. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts (11)
Annual price without aid: $67,800
Annual price with aid: $23,400
Early career earnings: $77,000
9. University of California at Davis, Davis, California (17)
Annual price without aid: $36,300
Annual price with aid: $18,200
Early career earnings: $53,000
10. Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts (3)
Annual price without aid: $68,600
Annual price with aid: $17,000
Early career earnings: $65,000

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Education July 9, 2017: Harvard and MIT the best universities for the highest earning majors

HEADLINE NEWS

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EDUCATION

New guides to picking the best major at the best university

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

The seventh annual QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017 had Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) dominate the rankings as the leading universities for a combined 27 subjects including some of the highest earning majors. Wikipedia Commons

The college admission process seems to be preoccupied with university rankings catering to high school seniors choosing the best university they can be admitted to, but choosing a major is equally important if not more for success after graduation. While rankings look at the best universities, recent lists also look at the best majors and the leading universities to matriculate. Michigan State University’s Collegiate Employment Research Institute (CERI) released in October 2016 their 2016–17 Recruiting Trends, which looks at the starting salaries for each major, helping students identify the best moneymakers. QS Quacquarelli Symonds released in March 2017 their World University Rankings by Subject 2017 listing the preeminent universities for particular majors. The seventh annual list had Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) dominate the rankings as the leading universities for a combined 27 majors.

The Michigan State University’s Collegiate Employment Research Institute annual recruiting trends lists the starting salaries of particular college degree majors from the associate level to the doctorate level emphasizing individual majors at the bachelor’s level. As Forbes explained, “Nearly 200 career service centers in the United States participated in the study and 4,350 employers provided information for the report, which includes data on full-time positions, internships, and co-op jobs.”

Forbes went further ranking these majors with the highest and lowest starting salaries. The vast majority of top earners are STEM, Science, Technology, Engineering and Medical degrees, particularly technology and engineering. Electrical engineering, software design, and chemical engineering are the top three degrees for highest starting salaries with graduates on average earning over $60,000 their first year on the job. Chemical Engineering was last year’s top earning degree.

Top ten highest starting salaries degrees:

1 Electrical Engineering: Average starting salary $62,428. Starting salary range $25,000 to #130,000
2 Software Design: Average starting salary $61,466. Starting salary range $25,000 to #134,000
3 Chemical Engineering: Average starting salary $61,125. Starting salary range $31,000 to #125,000
4 Computer Engineering: Average starting salary $61,092. Starting salary range $15,000 to #130,000
5 Mechanical Engineering: Average starting salary $59,610. Starting salary range $15,000 to #134,000
6 Computer Programming: Average starting salary $59,163. Starting salary range $15,000 to #130,000
7 Information Security Systems: Average starting salary $58,798. Starting salary range $19,000 to #123,000
8 Computer Science: Average starting salary $57,762. Starting salary range $15,000 to #130,000
9 Management Information Systems: Average starting salary $57,301. Starting salary range $15,000 to #122,000
10 Technical Engineering: Average starting salary $55,693. Starting salary range $15,000 to #132,000

While STEM majors dominate the highest earners, the Humanities, Social Sciences and Education have lowest earning starting salaries all earning less than $40,000 a year. Early Childhood Education has the lowest starting salary, followed by social work and then anthropology and sociology. Most of the humanities and social science majors listed as the bottom earners require graduate degrees for better positions and higher earnings.

Bottom ten lowest starting salaries degrees:
Pre-K & Kindergarten Education — $35,626
Social work — $37,115
Anthropology/Sociology — $37,672
Elementary education — $37,803
Special education — $38,002
Psychology — $38,079
English — $38,303
History — $38,361

In graduate and professional degrees, the same holds true STEM careers and graduate degrees reign supreme. Business including the coveted MBA and Law degrees are also high earners. Among the master’s degrees, the top three earners are computer science and engineering, as they are top earners at the undergraduate level. The Masters in Business Administration (MBA) comes in third, breaking up the undergraduate STEM monopoly. The top three all have starting salaries above $60,000 a year.

When it comes to doctorate and professional degrees STEM degrees and law dominate the top three, but this time a health science, pharmacy is the top earner. In second are computer science and engineering, while the law is third. The top three subject areas see starting salaries of $74,000 and above. The bottom end earners in the masters, doctoral and professional degrees are the social sciences and humanities subjects just as they were at the bachelor’s level. The only differences are the average starting salaries, at the masters level is just over 48,000, while at the doctoral level is over $58,000 a year, $20,000 more than just stopping at a degree at the bachelor’s level.

Master’s Degrees & MBAs

Computer science: $72,071 $15,000 — $145,000
Engineering: $69,729 $20,000 — $200,000
MBA: $62,700 $10,000 — $151,000
Physical & biological sciences: $59,204 $10,000 — $200,000
Accounting: $58,159 $10,000 — $144,000
LIR/HR: $58,125 $10,000 — $127,000
Health sciences: MS & MSW $53,283 $10,000 — $175,000
Social sciences: MA & MS $48,697 $10,000 — $150,000

PhD and Professional Degrees

Starting Salaries — PhD & Professional
Selected major Average Range
Pharmacy: $89,725 $20,000 — $146,000
Engineering & computer science: $77,811 $20,000 — $168,000
Law: $74,130 $20,000 — $200,000
Physical & biological sciences: $73,422 $20,000 — $141,000
Business: $67,578 $20,000 — $188,000
Social sciences & humanities: $58,897 $16,000 — $123,000

To complement the high-earning majors are the QS Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings by Subject 2017, which lets students know the best schools for their chosen major. QS World University Rankings’ annual list included the rankings for 46 subjects. Harvard was deemed the best university, landing on the top of the most subjects, and 15 majors. MIT came in a close second where they led the lists of 12 subjects. The results are a reversal to QS World University Rankings in 2017 and the latest for 2018, where MIT was the top ranking university for the last six years, whereas Harvard has remained in third place for the last two years. The University of Oxford is in third place topping the rankings of four subjects.

QS subject rankings not only lists the top majors, but also subject areas. MIT is the best school for high earning engineering and technology degrees followed by Stanford University in second and Cambridge in third. Harvard is the preeminent place for the Life Sciences & Medicine, Cambridge is second with Oxford third. MIT ranks as the leading school for the Natural Sciences, Cambridge is again second, while Harvard comes in at third. Harvard is again on the top as the leading university for the Social Sciences and Management. British schools again are the runner-ups with the London School of Economics (LSE) in second and Oxford third. For the Arts & Humanities, Oxford, the preeminent school for the classics is tops, followed by the University of Cambridge and Harvard in third.

The 46 subject rankings include “1127 universities from 74 countries” and are supposed to be “the most comprehensive global overview of higher education performance at discipline level.” This year QS added four additional subject rankings, “Anatomy & Physiology, Hospitality, Sports-related Subjects, and Theology, Divinity and Religious Studies.” There were only six subjects seeing new leaders this year notably as University World News indicates, “Mathematics, where MIT has taken over from the University of Cambridge, and history, where Harvard is the new leader.” Additionally, “development studies, the University of Sussex is now top, and archaeology, which is another of Oxford’s successes.”

The only school from continental Europe to top a subject list is ETH Zurich — Swiss Federal Institute of Technology for the Earth and marine sciences, who currently the only European school in the top ten at ten in the 2018 World University Rankings. In Australasia, the University of Sydney tops the Sports-related subjects. Canada does not have a university leading any of the subjects, but McGill University, the number 32 in the World University Ranking is third in Anatomy. However, the University of Toronto, QS’ top Canadian university at number 31 for the world ranking did the best in Canada ranking in “the top ten for six subjects.” Eastern European schools are also faring better in the rankings particularly those from Russia.

The rise of Asian schools in world rankings continues with their positions in the subject rankings. Only one Asian school, however, the University of Hong Kong tops a subject list with Dentistry. Singapore has the most top 20 placements of all Asian countries. With the rise of Asian schools, there is a decline of American and British schools in the rankings, although American schools still dominate the top spots.

Ben Sowter, head of research at the QS Intelligence Unit, who also compiled the ranking, commented on the shift. Sowter noted, “We observe nations in both Eastern Europe and Asia — most notably Russia and China — increasing their overall share. However, the upper echelons of the tables remain dominated by the US and UK, and this seems likely to continue for the foreseeable future.” Sowter, however, pointed out, “It seems certain that Asia’s leading institutions will continue to strongly displace the second tier of North American and European institutions.”

As with their World University Rankings QS relied on citations and surveys to compile their subject rankings, which is based on three major indicators “academic reputation, employer reputation and research impact.” For the ranking QS used their data from Scopus, “the world’s largest database of research abstracts and citations.” To determine the leading universities in certain subjects 43 million academic research papers with 144 million citations were analyzed. Additionally, to determine the reputation component QS used 305,000 “survey responses” from academics and 194,000 from employers.

QS World Rankings by Subject 2017

Accounting & Finance — Harvard
Agriculture & Forestry — Wageningen University
Anatomy & Physiology — Oxford
Anthropology — Harvard
Archaeology — Oxford
Architecture — MIT
Art & Design- Royal College of Art
Biological Sciences — Harvard
Business & Management Studies — Harvard
Chemistry — MIT
Communication & Media Studies — University of Southern California
Computer Science & Information Systems — MIT
Dentistry — University of Hong Kong
Development Studies — University of Sussex
Earth & Marine Sciences- ETH Zurich
Economics & Econometrics — MIT
Education — UCL Institute of Education
Engineering — Chemical — MIT
Engineering — Civil & Structural — MIT
Engineering — Electrical — MIT
Engineering — Mechanical — MIT
Engineering — Mining & Mineral — Colorado School of Mines
English Language & Literature — Oxford
Environmental Sciences — University of California, Berkeley
Geography — Oxford
History — Harvard
Hospitality — University of Nevada
Law — Harvard
Linguistics — MIT
Materials Science — MIT
Mathematics — MIT
Medicine — Harvard
Modern Languages — Harvard
Nursing — University of Pennsylvania
Performing Arts — Juilliard School
Pharmacy & Pharmacology — Harvard
Philosophy — University of Pittsburgh
Physics & Astronomy — MIT
Politics & International Studies — Harvard
Psychology — Harvard
Social Policy & Administration — Harvard
Sociology — Harvard
Sports-related Subjects — Loughborough University; University of Sydney
Statistics & Operational Research — Harvard
Theology — Harvard
Veterinary Science — University of California, Davis

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Education March 12, 2016: British universities dominate Oxford tops THE’s best universities in Europe 2016

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EDUCATION

British universities dominate Oxford tops THE’s best universities in Europe 2016

By Bonnie K. Goodman

March 12, 2016 6:41 PM MST

 The University of Oxford tops this year's ranking from Times Higher Education (THE) of the Best Universities in Europe; 46 British universities are making the cut, the most of any other country, March 10, 2016
The University of Oxford tops this year’s ranking from Times Higher Education (THE) of the Best Universities in Europe; 46 British universities are making the cut, the most of any other country, March 10, 2016
University of Oxford (www.ox.ac.uk)

Education January 9, 2016: Cambridge tops first Wikipedia Ranking of World Universities, Harvard only third

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Cambridge tops first Wikipedia Ranking of World Universities, Harvard only third

By Bonnie K. Goodman

January 9, 2016 3:36 PM MST

The first Wikipedia Ranking of World Universities was released with the University of Cambridge on top, while the first US school on the list is Harvard coming in only at third, Dec. 15, 2016
The first Wikipedia Ranking of World Universities was released with the University of Cambridge on top, while the first US school on the list is Harvard coming in only at third, Dec. 15, 2016
Wikipedia

Education December 6, 2015: College rankings 2016: McGill remains on top of Maclean’s University Rankings

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College Rankings 2016: McGill remains on top of Maclean’s University Rankings

By Bonnie K. Goodman

December 6, 2015, 10:22 AM MST

 McGill University topped Canada's Maclean's University Rankings in the Medical Doctoral category for the 11th straight year, Oct. 29, 2015
McGill University topped Canada’s Maclean’s University Rankings in the Medical Doctoral category for the 11th straight year, Oct. 29, 2015
Wikimedia Commons

Education December 6, 2015: College rankings guide 2016: Harvard again ARWU World Rankings’ best university

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College rankings guide 2016: Harvard again ARWU World Rankings’ best university

By Bonnie K. Goodman

December 6, 2015, 9:26 AM MST

The Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) named Harvard University the best university in the world for the 13th straight year, Aug. 12, 2015
The Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) named Harvard University the best university in the world for the 13th straight year, Aug. 12, 2015
Harvard.edu

Education December 6, 2015: College rankings guide 2016: Harvard still CWUR World Rankings’ top university

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College rankings guide 2016: Harvard still CWUR World Rankings’ top university

By Bonnie K. Goodman

December 6, 2015, 8:51 AM MST

The Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) named Harvard University the best university in the world for the fourth year, July 16, 2015
The Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) named Harvard University the best university in the world for the fourth year, July 16, 2015
Harvard.edu

Education December 5, 2015: College rankings guide 2016: MIT remains on top of QS World University Rankings

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EDUCATION

College rankings guide 2016: MIT remains on top of QS World University Rankings

By Bonnie K. Goodman

December 5, 2015, 6:11 PM MST

 

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has been QS World University Rankings' Top University for the past four years, Sept. 15, 2015
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has been QS World University Rankings’ Top University for the past four years, Sept. 15, 2015
Wikimedia Commons

Education December 5, 2015: College ranking 2016: Caltech still tops Times Higher Education’s World Ranking

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College ranking 2016: Caltech still tops Times Higher Education’s World Ranking

By Bonnie K. Goodman

December 5, 2015, 5:42 PM MST

Times Higher Education again put Caltech, the California Institute of Technology at the top of their World University Rankings for the fourth year, Oct. 1, 2015
Times Higher Education again put Caltech, the California Institute of Technology at the top of their World University Rankings for the fourth year, Oct. 1, 2015
Wikimedia Commons

Education December 5, 2015: College rankings 2016: Harvard again tops US News’ Best Global Universities

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EDUCATION

By Bonnie K. Goodman

December 5, 2015, 5:03 PM MST

 Harvard University remains on top of US News's Best Global Universities Rankings; the university topped three global listings, but failed to make the grade in the national rankings, Oct. 6, 2015
Harvard University remains on top of US News’s Best Global Universities Rankings; the university topped three global listings but failed to make the grade in the national rankings, Oct. 6, 2015
Harvard.edu

Education December 5, 2015: College rankings 2016: Princeton and Williams still top US News’ Best Colleges

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College Rankings 2016: Princeton and Williams still top US News’ Best Colleges

By Bonnie K. Goodman

December 5, 2015, 4:35 PM MST

Princeton University again topped US News and World Report's Best National Universities part of their 2015 Best Colleges, Sept. 9, 2015
Princeton University again topped US News and World Report’s Best National Universities part of their 2015 Best Colleges, Sept. 9, 2015
Wikimedia Commons

Education December 5, 2015: College rankings guide 2016: Forbes names Pomona America’s top college

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College rankings guide 2016: Forbes names Pomona America’s top college

By Bonnie K. Goodman

December 5, 2015, 4:06 PM MST

Forbes was the only university ranking list that placed a liberal arts college, Pomona College in their top spot, July 29, 2015
Forbes was the only university ranking list that placed a liberal arts college, Pomona College in their top spot, July 29, 2015
Wikimedia Commons

Education December 5, 2015: College rankings 2016: Princeton Review names U of Illinois U-C top party school

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College Rankings 2016: Princeton Review names U of Illinois U-C top party school

By Bonnie K. Goodman

December 5, 2015, 3:33 PM MST

This year the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign had the dubious honor of being named by Princeton Review as the best party school, Aug. 3, 2015
This year the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign had the dubious honor of being named by Princeton Review as the best party school, Aug. 3, 2015
Wikimedia Commons

Universities November 21, 2014: US News ranks the colleges that that accepts the most early admission applicants

US News ranks the colleges that that accepts the most early admission applicants

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, November 21, 2014, 4:18 PM MST

The University of Tulsa in Oklahoma accepts practically all the students that apply for their early admission program; US News ranked the top schools who accept the most students that apply early
The University of Tulsa in Oklahoma accepts practically all the students that apply for their early admission program; US News ranked the top schools who accept the most students that apply early
utulsa.edu

 

Universities November 16, 2014: College rankings guide 2014-15: McGill again tops Maclean’s University Rankings

College rankings guide 2014-15: McGill again tops Maclean’s University Rankings

 

November 16, 2014, 2:29 PM MST

McGill University topped Canada’s Maclean’s University Rankings for the 10th straight year

mymontrealautumn.wordpress.com

In Canada, the most prestigious ranking of universities is Maclean’s Magazine University Ranking, and their 2015 listing and guidebook was released on Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014, where for the 10th straight year McGill University topped the list in the Medical Doctoral category. Simon Fraser University moved up to number one in the Comprehensive category, Mount Allison University for the seventh year topped the Primarily Undergraduate category, while the University of Waterloo moved up again to the number one spot in the reputation survey. Maclean’s explains the reason for their three main lists saying they “place universities into three categories to recognize the differences in levels of research funding, the diversity of offerings and the breadth and depth of graduate and professional programs.”

The most significant of Maclean’s’ ranking lists is their Medical Doctoral category, focusing on the major research universities. McGill again topped the list this year and has retained the number one spot for the past two years. There was movement in the top three, with the University of Toronto going up the ranking from the third spot to the second, while the University of British Columbia (UBC) moved down back to number three. The rest of the top 10 saw very little movement, with most of the universities keeping their same positions as last year. The ranking is in reverse on most international lists, with the University of Toronto considered Canada’s top university followed either by the University of British Columbia or McGill, but the international rankings all agree those are the top three Canadian universities.

Here in Canada McGill’s reputation as the Harvard of the North, rightfully keeps its spot as the nation’s best. McGill’s Principal Suzanne Fortier apparently pleased with Maclean’s ranking results told the McGill Reporter; “The value of the Maclean’s rankings, like other rankings, is in the story they tell over time. This is a story of continued commitment to excellence. I am proud of the McGill community for sustaining its top performance for a decade running.”

Recently McGill has faced budget challenges, with the Quebec government’s funding cuts the past couple of years and not enough private endowments Canada’s once top university across all rankings has taken a hit and drop in international rankings and prestige as a result. Even on Maclean’s list, where McGill was able to hold to their “decade” long reign as Canada’s best, they are 12th when it comes to “operating budget.”

Principal Fortier recently spoke of the funding problems and international rankings to the Globe and Mail, explaining, “We have not seen any additional investments in quite a number of years now and also we have to live within quite a lot of constraints… We don’t have agility, we don’t have a lot of flexibility, because, certainly in the case of McGill, all of our money is controlled by the government.” According to McGill’s statistics, the university is still a top draw for international students, in the fall of 2013 “25.2 per cent of the incoming student body” were international students.

The Comprehensive category is described as universities “with significant research, undergraduate, and graduate programs as well as professional schools,” but are not as research focused, and do not have Medical instruction. Simon Fraser and the University of Victoria continue their power struggle for the top spot in the category as they have been doing since 2007, this year Simon Fraser won the honors. The University of Waterloo retains the third spot to round out the top three. The list also saw Brock and Wilfrid Laurier graduating up this category from the Primarily Undergraduate category. Concordia University in Montreal also saw improvement in their ranking, and they are now sitting at the precipice of the top 10 at number 11.

The Primarily Undergraduate category that features universities that focus on their undergraduate program saw Mount Allison again holds on as the top university that category. Mount Allison has a monopoly on the category, maintaining their supremacy since 2007. The University of Northern British Columbia moved up to second place from tying for third last year, while Lethbridge University now solely retains the number three spot. Acadia University dropped the most in the top 10 from number two to four, while Laurentian University was the greatest gainer moving from 14 to the number 10 spot.

Macleans’ reputation survey is the most controversial lists in their annual rankings, because it is subjective, taking their results from a survey completed by “education and business leaders.” Maclean’s publishes four reputation rankings, Best Overall, Highest Quality, Most Innovative, and Leaders of Tomorrow, with 49 universities represented in all four lists. This year the University of Waterloo tops the “Best Overall” list. Maclean’s noted that “For almost two decades, Waterloo has dominated the national list,” while the Waterloo Region Record pointed out Waterloo topped the list “for the 19th time in 24 years.”

As for the rest of reputation list’s top three, UBC comes in second followed by Toronto at third. Meanwhile top ranking McGill is only fourth in the Best Overall. In Highest Quality, there is a reversal, McGill is number one, followed by Toronto and UBC, and Waterloo is forth. In the Most Innovative, Waterloo again tops the list, with Toronto and UBC second and third again, with McMaster forth and McGill just in the fifth position. The Leaders of Tomorrow reputation list had a ranking in the top four that mirrored the Best Overall list, with Waterloo at number one, followed by UBC, Toronto, and McGill again in fourth place.

In other rankings, the reputation survey is similar to Times Higher Education‘s World University Rankings World Reputation Rankings, and the QS World University Rankings that heavily relies on reputation to determine its main rankings. As with most subjective rankings like the Princeton Review Best “379 Colleges,” university administrators “criticize” the results, but students find it helpful in their application decision making. Maclean’s quoted a high school senior who commented; “A school’s reputation tells me about the path of the school and its graduates. If a university’s graduates have a high chance of getting the job they want because they went to that particular school, I feel like the same thing will happen to me if I go there.”

Maclean’s three major rankings Medical Doctoral, Comprehensive, and Primarily Undergraduate use the same methodology to determine the lists’ rankings. There are six performance indicators; students and classes account for 20 percent of the grade, Faculty also 20 percent, Resources account for 12 percent, Student Support at 13 percent, Library at 15 percent, and Reputation weigh heavily at 20 percent.

Here is Maclean’s top ten in their Doctoral-Medical category and includes the university’s 2014 positions:

  • 1 McGill University (1)
  • 2 University of Toronto (3)
  • 3 University of British Columbia (3)
  • 4 Queen’s University (4)
  • 5 University of Alberta (5)
  • 6 McMaster University (6)
  • 7 Dalhousie University (7)
  • 8 University of Ottawa (8)
  • 8 University of Western Ontario (9)
  • 10 Université Laval (13)
  • 10 Université de Montreal (11)

RELATED LINKS

College Rankings Guide 2014-15:

Bonnie K. Goodman is a proud alumnus of McGill University having received both her BA in History & Art History & Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill. She is the Editor of the Academic Buzz Network, a series of political, academic & education blogs which includes History Musings: History, News & Politics. She has done graduate work in Jewish history at Concordia University as part of the MA in Judaic Studies program. Her specializations are academic & universities news, particularly history & library news.

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