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The annual college rankings from # @@ # @!! US News and World Report ( USNWR ) # @@ # @!! # @@ # @!! were released this week in the wake of an announcement about subtle brand new changes to the magazine’s methodology. With regard to better or worse, these ratings inspire a great deal of conversation about the quality level of American higher education, and influence huge choices made by students and their family members. We’re here to break down that methodology in order to help students as well as families determine what to tune out, and what to turn up.
In part one of this two-part series, we take on three of the 4 biggest factors in # @@ # @!! USNWR ’s college rankings. But before we get down to specifics, it ’s essential for you to begin to think broadly as to what matters to you in # @@ # @!! the college selection process . Do you value # @@ # @!! inputs # @@ # @!! like faculty quality, the admitted student profile, and endowment? Or do you create a higher emphasis on # @@ # @!! outputs # @@ # @!! like graduating rate, starting salary, and graduate school admissions? And what role if the education # @@ # snabel-a!! process # @@ # @!! play in your decision?
Most parents and college students will assess institutional quality via some combination of inputs, outputs, as well as process, as the goal of higher schooling is to create meaningful future opportunities through engaging and stimulating academic experiences. How you choose to weigh important factors is deeply personal for each student, and so it is highly unlikely that the weight # @@ # snabel-a!! you # @@ # @!! place on any given element will be in line with the weighting given by # @@ # @!! USNWR. # @@ # @!! Let’s take a look at how they do it:
Student Selectivity for Drop 2012 Entering Class: 12.5 %
For students who give opportunity to learn from their peers, it ’s good news that an eighth of a college’s score goes to the quality of its entering students. But peel back again the curtains on the category, as well as you’ll find that 65 percent of the grade is based on standardized test ratings ( ACT and HAFT ), while another 25 percent is based on the number of students who were in the top tenth of their high school class. ( I won’t even touch the actual 10 percent of the category based solely on an # @@ # snabel-a!! institution’s selectivity , as though admitting fewer people somehow makes an institution better. )
Nobody doubts the value of driven, talented, and competent peers. However where are the measures of thoughtfulness? Creativity? Patience and curiosity? Sympathy and care? When it comes # @@ # @!! time to affect college , students from around the country ask that colleges look beyond their scores and marks and try to figure out who they really are. Just how much weight should you give to a rating system that reduces student quality to scores and grades?
Faculty Resources for 2012-2013 Academic Year: 20 Percent
This category is broken into five sub-categories ranging from class size in order to student/faculty ratio. Faculty compensation pulls 35 percent of the weight within this category, an important consideration for anyone who believes that the best in any field always make the most money, but a factor that I’ve never heard a student discuss when he gets giddy about their school. Instead, students talk about the way in which faculty engage with them: dinners at a houses, long conversations during workplace hours, and a willingness to reach out and give extra help on a subject. Small classes and a low student/faculty ratio might create the conditions for these kinds of mentoring relationships, but they’re not all there is to it. Dig much deeper to find out what faculty truly are capable of.
Graduation and Preservation Rates: 22.5 Percent
Both of these measures are extremely important indicators of the potential return on your investment, but make sure to investigate the full range of a school’s outputs. What percentage of college students is employed after graduating, and in exactly what fields? How frequently do college students enter graduate or professional schools? How satisfied are young alumni with their college experience, and would they choose it again? You should understand what students # @@ # @!! do # @@ # @!! with their level, not merely what percentage of college students earn one. And keep in mind that there are dropouts even at schools with high graduation rates. Picking the right atmosphere for you can help ensure that you get the support you need to be successful.
Come back in tomorrow when we # @@ # @!! break down the remaining four categories , including the one which draws the most weight, and the the majority of scrutiny.
Ian Fisher # @@ # @!! is a member of University Coach’s team of # @@ # @!! college admissions professionals . Prior to joining College Private coach, Ian was a senior admissions officer at Reed College.
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