What’s important in a revamped college ranking system? Part 1

A new college ranking system from Washington Monthly pulls in factors such as earnings and social mobility.

[Editor’s Note: For Part 2 of this story that delves further into the rankings of the future, check back next week]

New players in the college and university ranking game say factors like the enrollment of low-income students and ensuring they graduate, a focus on STEM, and service-minded values should have significant weight in today’s rankings.

Key points:

  • Changing the factors in college ranking systems can yield dramatic and surprising results.
  • Student earnings after college, along with loan repayments, are important and this information should be easily accessible.
  • Exclusivity alone should not determine a university’s ranking.

Every year, institutions are ranked according to any number of factors, which can vary depending on the organization doing the research. Because of the extreme fluctuations in rankings based on seemingly arbitrary standards, institutions are often, and rightly so, irked during rankings season.

But are there some ranking sytem standards and characteristics that are considered musts; are there measurements that should be included but aren’t; and are any publications or researchers getting rankings right?

(Next page: Washington Monthly enters the rankings race with three unique measurements)

Laura Ascione