Comparing College Rankings Report

Every year, 1513 four year degree granting institutions of higher learning in America are ranked by U.S. News and World Report. These rankings are then published and viewed by millions of high school students in the college search process. The rankings are split into the following categories, or scales:

•    National Universities
•    National Liberal Arts Colleges
•    Regional Universities
•    Regional Colleges

The Regional Colleges and Regional Universities scales are each split into North, South, Midwest, and West.

For National Liberal Arts Colleges and Regional Colleges, the rankings stand alone as they aren’t comparable to any other category. However, National Universities and Regional Universities are generally very similar types of schools. They are on different scales because of their Carnegie classifications, which are determined by the amount of research that is being done at the institution. Another factor that determines a universities category is whether the highest degree granted is a doctorate or masters. For most incoming undergraduate students, these differences don’t really matter.

After close analyzation, I found that the National and Regional University rankings can be compared. To compare them, take the ranking of a Regional University and add 37. That will give you the approximate ranking of any Regional University on the National University scale.

For example, Loyola University Maryland is #3 on the Regional University (North) scale. After adding 37, I arrived at the conclusion that Loyola would score a #40 on the National University scale. This method of comparing rankings is powerful because it gives a greater perspective on how a university fares when compared with America’s top schools, most of whom are on the National scale. Also, because there are more schools on the National scale than each individual Regional scale, the National scale is a better indicator of the quality of a university.

Finally, a school is not better or worse depending on what scale it’s on. This method of comparison is meant to show that universities should be compared together, regardless of what scale they are listed on.

*Feature Image: Flickr Shreyans Bhansali

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