• 5 Realms of University Rankings

    May 1st, 2009

    By Ashley Brooks

    College rankings have increasingly become a part of the decision of which school to attend.  Many books have been published based on the ranking system, and parents strive to get their child into the highest academically ranked school, whether that be Ivy League or public.  However, rankings exist in order to assist students in deciding which school would be most suited to their needs, whether they need a school that has an extensive extracurricular program or impressive academic program, or even the opposite end of the spectrum.


    The ranking of academics falls into a slew of sub categories, ranging from professor’s teaching methods, to students’ grade point averages, even to the amount of class discussion.  So keeping all this in mind, what makes a school have a higher academic rating?  Smaller private schools are found to have a higher percentage of classroom discussions, as the student to professor ratio is much smaller than public schools, which focus mostly on lectures.  Another academic ranking tool is based on the quality of the school’s library, which mostly goes once again towards private schools with heavy endowments.  In the end, on an academia scale, private schools jump ahead of public schools on many of the academic categories.


    Demographic rankings are a higher indicator of the appeal of the school to a vast spectrum of people, as well as the location.  Demographics can be calculated by the day to day interactions among students of different races, or the diversity of the student body as a whole.  This ranking system is more difficult to ascertain, as many schools work to become more diverse through many “minority” scholarships that are based on small percentiles.  However, public state schools are found to attract more foreigners and diverse student populations because of their extensive undergraduate and graduate programs.  


    Extracurricular endeavors are based mostly on the school’s outside activities, such as intramural sports.  In this specific case, mostly public schools are a part of the higher percentage of extracurricular activities do to larger programs overall.  Additionally, sports are a larger part of life in public schools, especially state schools which have outstanding programs, and therefore make it to playoff games.


    The social rankings have more to do with the town the college is situated within.  For some schools, this means a smaller, country-type of town where the university is the main pull of the social scene.  However, for larger public schools, the university is located within a thriving metropolis and the chances for more culture and entertainment are vastly greater.  Nearly every school which is ranked as a “great college town” is located within many of the top largest cities in the country. 


    Should students be interested in the reputation of a school as a “party” school, there are also rankings for this, although most of the top schools tend to be public schools, contrary to the academic and demographic standings of private schools. 

    In addition to informing students over the highest ranked schools, many ranking systems additionally tell them what’s at the opposite end of the spectrum: the school with the lowest ranked academic standing, the school which never has any parties, etc.  When debating on a university to attend, or even a graduate school to apply to, ranking systems have become a new method to ease your search and find the school with the perfect fit.


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