Which college rankings are best to follow?   This is a difficult question to answer.  Every ranking has its pros and cons.

1. Times Higher Education World University Rankings 

The Times Higher Education’s global university rankings  evaluate the schools “by their teaching, research, knowledge transfer, international outlook, reputation and more.”  It is one of the most widely viewed publications.    However, the major criticism is “undermining non-English-instructing institutions and being commercialized.”  (Wikipedia)

See which U.S. schools make the list.

2. QS World University Rankings 

According to QS, “six performance indicators are used: academic reputation, employer reputation, faculty/student ratio, research citations per paper, a proportion of international faculty and proportion of international students.”   The rankings are also criticized as too subjective and commercialized.  “QS World University Rankings” is also one of the most widely read publications for academic rankings.

See which U.S. schools make the list.

3. Forbes America’s Best Colleges  

The college rankings focus on your ROI (Return On Investment) from a college education.  It makes sense to refer to the rankings for your college selection.  Factors used to determine the rankings include students’ satisfaction and alumni’s employment and professional achievement.   One great point why we like the rankings is because Forbes’ Magazine removes schools which have a history of using fraudulent or misleading data to boost their rankings.  We highly recommend Forbes’s college rankings even though some critics say its ranking methodology has nothing to do with evaluating a school’s teaching quality.  “We ignore the abstract (reputation) and wasteful (spending-per-student) to focus on one measurement: outcome. From career success to student debt, this rank counts what matters,” according to Forbes.

See the full list of America’s Best Colleges

4. Niche.com  

We advise you to take a look at the rankings by niche.com because the result is from college students’ reviews, not from some measured metrics like GPA, SAT scores, number of faculty research and many other controlled factors.

How is a college ranked by niche.com?  A college is judged by its students from a wide range of variables academic and non-academic alike.   Non-academic variables include athletics, campus food, campus housing, campus quality, diversity, drug safety, health & safety, local area, party scene, and even off-campus life.   We highly recommend this one.

See the top 100 colleges in the U.S. by Niche.com.

5. U.S. News & World Report 

The rankings focus on metrics such as high school class rank and SAT scores; “location and the feel of campus life; the range of academic offerings, activities, and sports; and cost and the availability of financial aid.”  The data used in the rankings are based on an annual survey sent out to U.S. colleges and universities.  If the data provided by a school is misleading, the school’s ranking could be incorrect.  In other words, the rankings could be manipulated easily.   In fact, several renowned schools have presented inaccurate data to boost their rankings.   Please note that many top U.S. higher education institutions have boycotted the survey from U.S. News & World Report since the 1990s.

See the list of top national universities in the U.S.

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