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Your Take: College Rankings

Bill Gates made a little bit of news [3] last week when he said that the metric rating system for U.S. colleges was “perverse.” The gist of his argument was that rating systems gave more credit to schools that attracted the best students rather than for improving them the most. His words: “The control metric shouldn’t be that kids aren’t so qualified. It should be whether colleges are doing their job to teach them. I bet there are community colleges and other colleges that do a good job in that area, but US News & World Report rankings pushes you away from that.”

Personally, I never cared much for college rankings. They’re nice to have around but the top rankings are always to the same schools. US News is the most well known and you see the same colleges at the top… most are Ivy League schools with enormous endowments. This year’s [4] ranking is no different. Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Columbia, and University of Chicago make the top five. MIT, Stanford, Duke, UPenn, and CalTech make up the next five. Last year had Harvard and Princeton tied for first, then Yale, Columbia, CalTech and MIT and Stanford tied for 5th, Duke, University of Chicago, and then UPenn. Shuffle around the deck chairs, same exact schools moving around.

My alma mater, Carnegie Mellon, comes in at #23. The value in these rankings isn’t the ranking but all the data [5] that they provide. For example, you can see that 12% of males were in a fraternity while 13% of women. It’s also 58% men to 42% women. I can assure you that the Computer Science department does not have similar ratios… though I hear it’s getting more balanced, that’s a good thing! 🙂

What do you think about college rankings?

(Photo: duruk [6])