Forbes' Top Colleges: Rating the Rankings
October 04, 2021
Each fall, a variety of publications release thier lists of the best schools, the most ubiquitous of which comes from U.S. News & World Report. So why is Harvard University #1 according to U.S. News, while Forbes thinks it's Williams College and Washington Monthly claims U.C. San Diego is the best in the land?
School size and type aside, publications use different measures of quality when assigning rankings. Furthermore, two publications may use the same measure (for example, retention rates) but value them in different ways (e.g. 15% at U.S. News but 6% at Forbes) when assigning ratings.
The most common measures used for school rankings in 2011 were test scores, retention/graduation rates and the student/faculty ratio. And the similarities pretty much end there. Publications use all kinds of measures and many of them don't overlap. So who does what? We decided to take a look behind the rankings....
Today's School Rankings: Forbes
Who It's For: Students who are concerned with their post-graduate career success and making a profitable long-term investment in their education.
What They Look At:
Student evaluations of faculty from RateMyProfessors.com
Freshman- Sophomore retention rates
Number of alumni listed in Who's Who in America
Salary of alumni from payscale.com
Alumni in Forbes/CCAP Corporate Officers List
Student Loan debt load
Student loan default rates
Number of students receiving nationally competitive awards
Forbes gives a great deal of attention and weight to the satisfaction and accomplishments of current students, while still factoring in financial issues like careers and loan default rates.
Considering that the rather amorphous category of "post-graduate success" counts for a full 1/3 of a school's ranking, it's disappointing that their measurement of success so strongly favors corporate executives. In their analysis, the financial gains of alumni are more important factors than the intellectual or cultural contributions of the institution itself.
Their Top 5 Colleges
United States Military Academy
Choosing a college is about much more than rankings. Find out which schools are a good match for you with our College Wizard!
Get the scoop behind other rankings:
U.S. News & World Report's Best Colleges
Kiplinger's Best Value Colleges
Times Higher Education](http://www.noodle.org/noodlings/college/times-higher-education-rating-rankings)