• September 4, 2023

Rankings: reader beware

This posting is not about whether rankings are harmful or beneficial. Rather, it is about what to be aware of when reading a given ranking as the results of each one is based on its own combination of factors. Here are a few examples:

  1. Forbes does not rank the service academies. Like some other rankings, it does not separate large land-grant state universities from small undergraduate focused liberal arts colleges. Additionally, weight is given to how frequently a college’s alumni appear in Forbes own list of prominent individuals.
  2. U.S. News produces the most well-known ranking. It does separate smaller liberal arts colleges from larger universities. However, alumni giving (to be removed from this year onwards) carried weight, meaning colleges that provide quality education to students from lower income household would suffer. Starting this, the ranking will place stronger emphasis on the diversity of a college’s student body but it is not clear how the recent Supreme Court decision will affect future results.
  3. Niche.com takes student reviews into account. While it is important to know what the most important people on campus think, it is not difficult to see how objectively curating these reviews is more art than science.

Even when multiple rankings use the same factor (e.g. academic rigor), the interpretation can vary. Remember that regardless of publisher, rankings are opinions at their core.

  • April 6, 2023

An overlooked selection factor

There is a LOT of online chatter about ‘finding the right college’ and what factors to consider. One factor that we do not hear a lot about: core curriculum requirements.

  • April 1, 2023

What exactly is the Ivy League? And the Ivy Plus?

(Nothing to do with April Fool’s.)

The Ivy League is an athletic conference comprising of eight colleges in the northeast with seven of them founded before the United States. Their long history and well-placed alumni have turned the name of an athletic conference into a popular cultural term for elite colleges. These eight schools are Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania & Yale. In recent years, the emergence of elite colleges outside the group of eight gave rise to a new group: Ivy Plus, which is the Ivy League plus Duke, MIT, Stanford and University of Chicago.

  • March 26, 2023

College acceptance rates

CollegeClass of 2027 acceptance rateClass of 2026 acceptance rate
Brown University5.1%5%
Columbia University3.9%3.7%
Dartmouth College6.2%6.2%
Duke University6%6.2%
Harvard University3.4%3.2%
Johns Hopkins University6.3%6.5%
Northwestern University7%6.8%
Pomona College7%7%
Stanford UniversityTBA3.7%
Swarthmore College6.8%6.9%
University of Chicago5%5.4%
University of Pennsylvania4.1% (estimated)6.5%
Yale University4.4%4.4%
  • March 24, 2023

What is an elite college?

The definition of an elite college can be as unique as the individual considering the question. For purposes of this blog, it is: a private college where the overall acceptance rate is less than 8%.