GEORGETOWN, Ky., Jan. 20, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Every day, students consult college and university rankings to find the best schools to attend. And they do so because their money, education, and future depend on making an informed college choice.
But what if those rankings are based on "facts" that aren’t so factual, or worse, just the subjective opinion of someone who filled out a survey?
Doubts about school rankings are only gaining momentum. In the past year, scrutiny of college rankings has skyrocketed, including these notable events and stories:
- Malcolm Gladwell investigated and criticized the U.S. News & World Report college and university rankings in his Revisionist History podcast ("Lord of the Rankings" and "Project Dillard").
- The dean of Temple University’s Fox School of Business was convicted of fraud for submitting fake data to inflate the school’s U.S. News & World Report ranking.
- Bloomberg Businessweek‘s business school rankings were questioned by a Yale School of Management dean, Anjani Jain, when his analysis of the stated methodology used to generate the list produced different results than those published, suggesting hidden factors at work.
AcademicInfluence.com explores the controversy over college and university rankings in a series of hard-hitting interviews, as well as a timeline of associated news stories and op-eds detailing the inherent weaknesses of college rankings at well-known ranking sites:
- Distortions of Business School Rankings | Interview with Anjani Jain
- Are Colleges Controlled by Rankings? | Interview with Jeffrey Stake
- The "Ranking Game" of Universities | Interview with Jeffrey Stake
- College Rankings Held Hostage: The Undeserved Monopoly of U.S. NewsRankings
Anjani Jain, noted above, is Yale University deputy dean for academic programs and also professor in the practice of management. He details his analysis of the Bloomberg Businessweek ranking methodology used, how he discovered discrepancies that could not explain the results, and what this means for understanding college rankings.
Jeffrey Stake, Robert A. Lucas Chair and Professor of Law at Indiana University Bloomington’s Maurer School of Law, has worked to expose the distorted nature of law school rankings. In his two interviews, he discusses student misperceptions about ranking results, the impact rankings have on colleges, and the ranking game he created that allows students to play with criteria weightings to achieve different—and seemingly arbitrary—results.
"AcademicInfluence.com exists because our team saw weaknesses and vulnerabilities in the way most rankings sites operate. Too much reliance on obsolete data, too much dependence on the subjective whims of survey respondents, too many openings for gaming the numbers—these problems can taint rankings. Sadly, students make life-changing decisions based on those tainted results," says Dr. Jed Macosko, academic director of AcademicInfluence.com and Wake Forest University professor of physics. "It’s why our team of academics and data scientists at AcademicInfluence.com pioneered and developed machine-learning software that diminishes the role of old, gameable, subjective data and uses a more robust measure: a school’s actual real-world influence."
Why do the rankings at AcademicInfluence.com outperform those of other ranking sites? The reason is the proprietary InfluenceRanking™ Engine—innovative machine-learning technology that measures a school’s influence through its students, faculty, staff, and alumni. By analyzing massive data sources such as Wikipedia, Crossref, and Semantic Scholar and tracking their connections, the InfluenceRanking Engine creates a map of academic influence that provides students with a better ranking for a better education. See the AcademicInfluence.com About page for further details on the unique capabilities and advantages of this ranking technology.
"Confidence in our rankings—that’s what we give students," says Macosko. "They can rest assured that our results show the true measure of a school’s impact. And don’t we all want to be associated with people and institutions that are making the greatest difference in the world?"
AcademicInfluence.com is the preeminent, technology-driven, academic rankings site dedicated to students, researchers, and inquirers from high school through college and beyond. AcademicInfluence.com is a part of the EducationAccess group, a family of sites dedicated to lifelong learning and personal growth.
Jed Macosko, Ph.D.