College Rankings

College Rankings – How are They Calculated and Can You Trust Them?

A college rankings list provides insight to students on how well a college performs in the United States. It is a list where you can easily find every college published having a particular online ranking. Millions of students go through these lists every year to decide which college is best suited for them. Yet, only a few handfuls are aware of how publishers put together these ranking lists.

The college ranking list comes with designated letter grades or numerical scores showing where a particular college stands. They are easily read by any college student, parent, teacher, or such educated individuals. If you are interested in learning about the list compilation, here’s an article that will provide you with complete detail.

So how should one understand which college rankings list is the most reliable? How should one conclude what they calculate in a way that you can put your faith in them?

So without further ado, let’s learn everything we can about the college rankings list.

Common Factors Which Influence the College Rankings

A typical college ranking doesn’t formulate randomly. Several interesting factors behind these college rankings come into consideration before the list compilation.

These different ranking factors are as follows:


According to Princeton Review, a conducted research on how much effort a student puts in his education helps decide how effectively that college ranks on the college rankings list. The academic reputation of a school is an essential factor to address. It determines how educated the students from the University will be and how they will use their education to contribute to society. Therefore, here’s a factor that holds significant potential when it comes to rankings.

Retention Rate

One of the common ranking denominators for colleges on the list is the retention rate. It indicates how many students are returning to college after completing their sophomore years. This is important because it helps identify how many students are happy with the existing college education and other facilities. If they had a great experience the previous year, then there’s a high chance that they will come back the second year.

Faculty Salary

The salary paid to a teacher depends on how the college attracts the best professors.

The Student-Faculty Ratio

The ratio helps decide how many students will get the chance to interact with faculty members. The lesser the ratio, the better it will be for faculty members to pay attention to their students.

Class Size

According to US News, class sizes are also an essential factor to bring into consideration. Class size may vary between less than 20 students to a range of greater than 50 students. The class size defines how resourceful the class can be for a student. Students who get smaller classrooms get more attention in comparison to relatively large classrooms.

Acceptance Rate

The higher the acceptance rate, the better will be the grading of the college. This is because, in a college where there’s a high acceptance rate, it is evident that the students who participate will be the best & the brightest.

The Average Spending Per Student

As per the US News, the average amount spent on a student confirms how much a university or college is prepared to invest in their student bodies. There are multiple facets, such as sports, medical, dorms, cafeterias, etc. The more a college supports creating an appropriate culture for their students, the better the school or college’s ranking.

SAT/ACT Scores

The colleges entertaining higher SAT/ACT scores will more likely have students with better academic capabilities. Such colleges will be categorized as more selective when it comes to admissions.

Financial Aid

Certain lists favor the financial aid awarded by a specific financial institution to the college or the University. The better the college’s program of financial assistance, the higher will be its rank in the college rankings list.

What are the Pros & Cons of Following a College Rankings List

College Rankings List can Help You Discover New Colleges

One of the most valuable take-ups out of following a college rankings list is that it offers you the help of finding the most suitable academic institution. There are countless colleges in the United States which aren’t well recognized. When students go through a college rankings list, they come across a number of different schools where they feel inclined to research, apply, and maybe attend them.

College Rankings List can Provide You Data for Comparison

When searching for a school, there are plenty of things that you have in mind. And you are more than inclined to compare things like high school GPA, SAT scores, class size, etc. The list will provide you a complete insight on all of these factors allowing you to perform a thorough numerical comparison. So before you apply, you will have a full comparison with exact statistics to decide.

College Rankings List Can Help You Learn How Much to Qualify

While there are plenty of college rankings, the list only shows you how much high school GPA is required to apply for a particular college, the percentage of students, and other similar requirements. Knowing how much score you will need to pass for an exam at a specific college will help you better prepare yourself beforehand. It will help you get into the competition and strive better to score big.

The Only Con

As discussed by different professors residing in various educational systems of the United States, it is found that some factors in the college rankings list are subjective. For example, there are debatable factors like the faculty salary or the average spending per student. These factors don’t have a real direct impact on the educational experience of a student. Similarly, the faculty to student ratio may not directly impact the quality of education, and so would the class size. Depending on how technology has groomed, there’s no problem conducting lessons for teachers in giant classrooms.

Can I Trust a College Rankings List?

As our learnings suggest, a college rankings list is as good a list as long as it only addresses factors that directly impact academic experience. Don’t put your complete faith in a particular list but instead explore different options abundantly. A college ranking low on one list based on certain factors might rank high in another on other factors. Hence, find a list which either helps you organize your college listings based on different factors or choose one that favors academia.

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