College Ranking Formula

College Rankings Formula, University Rankings Formula, Ivy League Rankings Formula

Should the college ranking formula be tweaked?

The “Freakonomics” guys, pals of Bev’s son, have brought to our attention a paper authored by economists Christopher N. Avery, Mark E. Glickman, Caroline M. Hoxby, and Andrew Metrick that concerns the college ranking formula. In the abstract, as brought to our attention by, the authors propose ranking colleges not by the current variables employed by “US News & World Report” but rather by student revealed preferences. In light of the recent admissions scandals at Claremont McKenna College and George Washington University, it might be a good idea to adjust the algorithm — or at least provide safeguards to prevent deans of admission from fudging data. Maybe a school would get booted from the “US News & World Report” rankings for several years — like a ban from the NCAA to compete in post-season play.

Anyhow, here’s the abstract of the paper: “When a student chooses a college among those that have admitted him, that college ‘wins’ his ‘tournament.’ Our method efficiently integrates the information from thousands of such tournaments. We implement the method using data from a national sample of high-achieving students. We demonstrate that this ranking method has strong theoretical properties, eliminating incentives for colleges to adopt strategic, inefficient admissions policies to improve their rankings. We also show empirically that our ranking is (1) not vulnerable to strategic manipulation; (2) similar regardless of whether we control for variables, such as net cost, that vary among a college’s admits; (3) similar regardless of whether we account for students selecting where to apply, including Early Decision. We exemplify multiple rankings for different types of students who have preferences that vary systematically.”

Do you think these changes should be implemented by “US News & World Report”? What’s your opinion on the important “US News & World Report” rankings? Let us know your thoughts on the matter by posting below!


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1 Comment

  • George Cornelius says:

    US News should drop consideration of acceptance or admission rates. It encourages bad behavior on the part of institutions (inflating the pool of applicants) and, consequently, yields artificially low rates that aren’t a fair reflection of true desirability or competitiveness and misleads applicants. Yield is a better indicator, although it, too, is subject to manipulation. Perhaps better yet is the revealed preference approach proposed by Avery, Glickman, Hoxby and Metrick. Personally, I’d give more weight to four-year graduation rates.

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