Very Odd College Rankings

The Washington Monthly Magazine has produced an idiosyncratic list of rankings of undergraduate colleges. I haven’t looked at the methodology, but the rankings for Florida are quite suspect from the point of view of a person trying to decide where to send their kids. That has nothing to do with law schools, but bear with me.

The University of Florida is ranked 37th. The Florida Institute of Technology is ranked 121st. FSU is 132nd. Nova is 157th. The University of South Florida is 158th. FIU is 169th. And UM is 170th.

I’m not offended by the idea that the undergraduate college at UF might beat UM on a value-for-money scale: especially if one is weighing the cost of in-state tuition, UF might well be a better deal for your educational dollar despite the gigantic class size and the location in Gainesville. And I’m sure that every college in the state has departments that shine. But overall I simply find it inconceivable that the college at UM, which has made such enormous strides in the past 10-20 years and which today boasts by far the strongest faculty in its history, could possibly be ranked so much lower than UF, not to mention behind those other schools.

OK, UM isn’t quite at the rear of the state sweepstakes, as UCF got ranked at 193, and FAU at 240, but still.

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3 Responses to Very Odd College Rankings

  1. dammitboris says:

    go gators!

  2. Ereshkigal says:

    The rankings are set through a limited set of factors that make little sense in light of what they try to measure.

    For instance, the methodology page describes a community service component calculated as:

    We determined the Community Service score by measuring each school’s performance in three different areas: the percentage of its students enrolled in the Army and Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps; the percentage of its alumni who are currently serving in the Peace Corps; and the percentage of its federal work-study grants devoted to community service projects.

    A school without ROTC programs goes to the plate with a short bat. A school whose alumni serve the community through different, non-Peace Corps channels gets a big strike zone. A school that directs students into community service projects without regard to a student’s work-study status has to swing from outside the batter’s box.

    Perhaps the rankings would have been more useful if they had been generated by someone with real academic experience.

  3. wcw says:

    I know full well that my alma mater is not the 2d best undergraduate school in the country, and I am certain my brother would say the same of his #6, but it is awfully entertaining to see the good UCs, Penn State, A&M and SC State (!!) creaming the likes of Harvard, Priceton and Yale.

    More seriously, these rankings would appear to measure something other than “where to send your kids.”

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