Authority's rankings use objective data to quantify nearly every college in the United States.
Our Authoritative Definition of Why the Best Colleges in America are The Best.
Making the right college choice is essential for future success. By accounting for all quantifiable aspects of the college experience, Authority's Best Colleges ranking will guide the way to the best choice. Our core metrics are:
- Admissions 18%
- Academics 35%
- Student Experience 25%
- Value 22%
We refer to these four categories as getting-in, getting-educated, getting-involved, and getting-on-with-life. The college experience begins with admissions, transitions to a combination of classroom learning and life experience, and results in a cost-benefit analysis between accrued debt and collective learning.
Best Colleges Ranking Methodology
Deciding which college to attend marks an important step in a young student's life. Deciding which college to attend and sorting through all the information out there can be overwhelming and confusing. Authority equips students with the tools and knowledge to make informed college decisions.
Authority's rankings use objective data to quantify nearly every college in the United States. The Best Colleges ranking represents the overall quality of a college and is front and center on every college's page. The best colleges will likely provide an excellent experience for all students, while lower scoring schools may be lacking in one or more categories. These rankings use data pertaining to Admissions, Academics, Value, and Student Experience to rate colleges. A college's ranking serves as an overall representation of what the college has to offer.
"Deciding which college to attend marks an important step in a young student's life. Deciding which college to attend and sorting."
Starting with admissions, the largest contributor to the admissions category is acceptance rate.
A college with a lower acceptance rate results in a higher college score. A lower acceptance rate implies that the college has higher educational standards for entrance and can in turn provide higher levels of education for those who attend.
A college's acceptance rate accounts for 8.60% of its overall rating. Acceptance rate is mentioned first to remind students that attending a school with a lower rank is not inherently a bad thing.
The quality of academics between the school ranked number 1 and the school ranked number 100 is not necessarily that significant, especially depending on the major selected.
"Starting with admissions, the largest contributor to the admissions category is acceptance rate."
Speaking of academics, the largest factor relating to academics is student to faculty ratio with a weight of 8.97%.
A lower student to faculty ratio is correlated with greater student success and instructional quality.
Specific instructional quality is a very difficult thing to quantify, unlike high school there are no comprehensive standardized tests in post-secondary education.
As such, a composite involving student to faculty ratio and data such as professor metrics and research investment round out the academic assessment of a college.
"A lower student to faculty ratio is correlated with greater student success and instructional quality."
Student experience is another category which took significant research and testing to get right - strangely, different people enjoy different things.The biggest objective indicator of student experience is student retention.
Weighted at 7.93%, retention rate can explain if the college works well for students.
Retention rate demonstrates how effectively a college supports a student and how faithfully a school lives up to the experience a student was sold on having.
"The biggest objective indicator of student experience is student retention."
But how much is a student willing to pay for that lazy river through campus?
That is where Value comes in.
Many college students depart from their education with debt, debt that is betting on a future of gainful employment only accessible after years of education and training.
As such, Earnings and Loan Statistics together account for 12.49% of a college's composite ranking.
Graduation Rate on the other hand is an essential and unique component of a college's quality.
Graduation rate is the highest weighted individual metric as the end goal of college is to graduate.
Graduation rate is an all around demonstration of college quality with Value, Student Experience, Admissions, and Academics all determining if a student completes their degree.
Graduation Rate accounts for 10.54% of the total college rating.
For more detail on our data and mathematical methods can be found on our General Methodology page.
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