Building a Better College Ranking System. Wait, Babson Beats Harvard?

Money magazine released a new list of best colleges focused on what is on the minds of many parents and students: money. Babson ranked No. 1.

Comments: 214

  1. I hope more studenta apply to Babson College, that way my kids will have a better chance of getting into Harvard and Princeton.

  2. Only if some of those students don't apply to Harvard and Princeton. If they don't, that could up the Harvard acceptance rate from 8.1% to 8.2%, but then this will cause more kids to apply, which will bring the acceptance rate back down, maybe into the 5% range, at which point we can all agree it's really hard to get in.

  3. So they can live the dream of pseudoelitism.

  4. It's already there, and much lower when you take out legacies, athletes and urm's.

  5. This college ratings game is so much nonsense. Colorado School of Mines is a great school for those interest in engineering and geology. It's also a state university, ie it's not going to empty your pockets. But you better want to major in those areas. The University of Colorado is well known as a hard partying school, but it also has an excellent engineering program and I'd put money on the fact that its engineering grads do comparably well with the engineering grads at Mines. Ditto for being a state university with relatively reasonable tuition.

    If you want your children to do well, teach them that college is an opportunity, not a guarantee. Refuse to pay if they use it as an extended party instead of studying. Almost any decent school has the capability to provide a good education if you make use of what it has to offer and show some initiative.

  6. That point may well be true for those two schools, but those pushing for ratings believe (quite reasonably) that there must be some schools who are offering a better bargain than others. Better outcomes for the same price or equivalent outcomes for less money. The rankings are all about showing, as objectively as possible, where those cases are. Until that information is available, students and parents will continue to rely on historical reputation and cost as proxy measures of quality/value and there will be no competition to drive tuition lower. This lack of information is a big part of the rapidly rising tuition costs.

  7. However, if you want data to make sense you have to compare apples and apples and comparing Harvard and Babson is comparing apples and oranges. They are not the same kind of places. That was my point: comparing the financial value of MInes to CU only makes sense if you compare engineering grads of Mines to engineering grads of CU. Just a comparison uses numbers doesn't make it valid. The samples need to be comparable.

  8. I haven't seen how Money presents it, but that's not really a huge obstacle. I doubt anyone will show up at Babson planning to major in anthropology. Rankings don't remove the need to research the schools further (e.g., what types of programs they have) but that doesn't make them useless. It seems silly to try to strangle these new ratings in the cradle (the Money ratings or the upcoming government ratings) for not being immediately perfect. I would certainly suggest using more than one source to evaluate schools, but more available information is a generally good thing. A data set (e.g., a ranking list) doesn't have to tell you *everything* in order to tell you *something*.

    lt was Kevin Carey who played up the Harvard vs. Babson comparison from the Money ranking because it is striking - most of the schools on the list are much more comparable than those two.

  9. The "controls" for demographics and adjustments based on majors seems to be where a lot of the action is. What I hope is that they control for the fact that wealthier people, with more connections and more leeway to do things that are costly in the near term but can propel a career (e.g., unpaid internships), tend to attend "elite" colleges. So, irrespective of the education one receives from a Princeton or a Harvard, students who attend those schools typically have serious advantages in the marketplace.

  10. Amusing in its absurdity. One could make a list using any measure of criteria:
    Schools located in large cities.
    Schools located in large cities with a high propensity for alumni to reside after graduating
    Private schools where liberal arts degrees out-earn those with science degrees
    Public schools where income inequality between students is greatest or smallest

    The obsession with ranking leads the uninformed to draw conclusions based upon measures that too often have little bearing on a student's true interests and needs. And to weight post-graduation income as part of a cause and effect relationship of one's institution is a non-starter. I am doubtful the Bapson alumnus had necessarily the same academic rigor as the Chicago or Princeton or UVA alumnus had and with the same caliber of students. In the end, 18 year-olds should choose based on visits, consulting with parents and such. These rankings serve to sell magazines and not aid in the larger issue of universally high college costs.

  11. Just because some rankings are bad and there are some unresolved questions (controlling for demographics and using income) doesn't mean the whole enterprise is worthless. Good rankings are possible - in fact, it sounds like Money has done a pretty good job already.

    Choosing based on visits favors schools that have pretty campuses with a lot of amenities. What else can one really see in a visit? In other words, it rewards schools that spend a lot of money on things that don't help education. That's something that a reasonable, forward thinking person would probably weight negatively in making their decision rather than relying on as the primary source of information. Also, the vast majority of parents - even those who went to college themselves - don't know any more than their children about which colleges to go to. Even the mediocre rankings like US News would probably work better than those methods.

  12. Amusingly absurd to think that most 17 year-olds have the family support structure to make multiple trips to campuses and provide valued advice. That may be true for the top performers at Chicago, Princeton and Berkeley, but it is not true for many future college students.

    Why criticize an attempt to provide additional information to aid in decision making? My guess is that finances didn't enter into your college decisions.

  13. University of Chicago: Ranked 101.

    100 schools provide a better return on one's investment than Chicago.

    What must sting for Chicago is that this kind of ranking, based entirely on return on investment, is exactly the kind of metric favored by free market economists of the Chicago School of Economics.

    Those who live by the sword...

  14. It has been my experience that a young person who goes anywhere, including community college, and works had, gets good grades, and engages with other students and faculty, will succeed. It is not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.

  15. Go beavers!

  16. The Morehouse ranking (and many others) illustrate the problem with a "value-ranking" for colleges in general. It is very important to protect students from for-profit institutions that abuse the student-loan system, however. Perhaps the government could just rank schools "Pass/Borderline/Fail" so as to warn students away from truly valueless (in more than one sense) institutions.

  17. I am disappointed that my son's school, Olin College of Engineering. appears nowhere on the list, though it has consistently ranked at the top on these metrics since it graduated its first class almost a decade ago. I can't find an explicit reason why Money cut Olin from the list of schools they were considering, I guess it falls in their catch all of "schools for which data was not available" based on its youth. I just mention this to illustrate the point: lists are fun, and may get you thinking about some schools in a new way, but not really very meaningful. And not helpful to a parent or student choosing a school. A kid's gotta click with a school, and none of these metrics are going to help you establish that.

  18. As a (long ago) former Bus. Admin. major, at an Ivy, back when business majors tended to be scorned as intellectually inferior "Babbitts", I am delighted by the attention now being given to Babson. Of course what is true now, regarding future earnings, was as true back then -- with those who went on directly to graduate MBA programs, medical or law school being the exception. Their vocational education was an expensive and delayed add on.
    What the gurus might measure as well as income, in later life, is net worth. Some might say that it isn't just what you earn, but what you manage to keep and grow that counts most. That allows comfortable retirement and further (more updated) cultural enrichment in the latter years.Education is and should be a lifetime process. First one must learn to be self-supporting!

  19. This absurd attempt at ranking college assumes that money (and Money, the magazine) equates with the good life and hence is the only thing that makes attending a specific college worthwhile. Many of the brightest graduates seek not the highest paying careers but those that offer the most personal fulfillment. Try to measure that for a change.

  20. Well - actually - no it does not.
    It assumes that some students attend university with the explicit goal of maximizing their income.
    I am reasonably confident that this group comprises a significant proportion of college attendees.
    If that is not your goal - feel free to ignore the rankings

  21. OK, I will ignore their rankings. Thanks for the advice.

  22. There are no guarantees in life -- don't go to college just to get a job. It is supposed to be to educate yourself as well, which means a skill to get through life making some what informed decisions. Unfortunately today, college is becoming a luxury rather than the next stage of learning, after school. Universities are also being run by a highly profit-driven business model than one that promotes higher thinking.

    A degree from a good college never hurt anyone -- you have a better chance of at least being called for an interview if you graduated from an ivy school. But, in the end, it is your own hard work and zest for what you do, than helps you succeed. More should be done to help high-schoolers figure out what it is that they would enjoy as a career, and what they have an aptitude for. Then they should look for schools where that field is taught well -- it may Harvard, but may be also a small school in the next town. Generalized rankings of colleges do not help much.

  23. Return on Investment is an easy one to do, because it uses digital input. A lot tougher to measure "Happiest Graduates" or "Most Successful".

  24. Salaries often vary regionally because of cost of living, but does Payscale standardize their salaries by region or cost of living? If not, east coast and California schools may rank highly simply because their alums stay in the same region. Someone earning $40,000 in Des Moines may be much better off because of their Iowa State degree than had they earned the same amount after graduating from Babson and living in Boston.

  25. There is no "best" college or university. There are only institutions that are the best for any one student, based on individual needs and preferences. Information about what each school offers, what it actually costs, and what a graduate can expect is useful. Rankings are not.

  26. It would be hard to think of a less appropriate basis for ranking universities than the basis used by "Money."

    But, then, what would one expect from a publication that calls itself "Money" and that targets shallow minds obsessed with money.

  27. BYU is a good school and certainly the $12,000 seems a reasonable price but if you are not LDS you might find it difficult. The honor code is invasive and pervasive.

    A young lady I know will be entering Harvey Mudd soon. She got into MIT and Stanford as well but felt more in tune with the students at HM. That's probably just as important as the name recognition in the long run.

  28. Money takes into account a lot of other ranking organizations do not: how much it costs to attend a school and what you get out of it. Lets be honest, the top 5% at Harvard? Just as talented as the top 5% at any reputable state school. The bottom 5% is the difference.

    I was looking at doing part-time at Chicago U's MBA program, until I looked at tuition: 6000 a class. I realized, at that point, it's time to pull back check other programs - if you're not rich or having work foot an insanely expensive program, you're out of luck.

    Money is not calling these schools out for such an egregious gorging of students, but rewarding schools who keep their costs low and their value high. If Babson proves to be better than Harvard, then so be it. From my experience, the kids that had it sink-or-swim at lower-ranked schools outperform empty-suit Ivies.

  29. Harvard has a wonderfully generous need-based aid policy, where even students from upper middle class policies receive some form of grant based aid. Harvard (and many other top-tier private colleges offering similar grant packages) can therefore be a better value for the students selected for admission than those students' local state school.

  30. I don't know how the data was processed, but I wonder if there has been any correction for biases in the data that might arise because of family/social connections that go along with attending one of the super-prestigious colleges on the list. If you're already in the top .1%, going to work for Daddy or one of your eating club buddies is no big deal. If you went through school on a Pell Grant, those gigs probably don't come nearly as easily---even if you're more talented than lots of the rich kids.

  31. What the research suggests is that students from prosperous backgrounds don't gain economically by attending an elite institution, but that kids from disadvantaged backgrounds do.

  32. This is all absolutely ludicrous, offensive even. The idea that Morehouse College should be low ranked because students at Morehouse may come from relatively poor homes is a perversion of what respect for a college should be about.

  33. I agree but on the other hand, how many students enroll at Moorehouse but dont complete the degree because the money ran out? Eventually that affects the whole school and its long-term desirability.

  34. The ranking system appears to put Morehouse low not because students are low-income but because they default on their loans. That is, the school does not offer enough financial aid for the demographic mix of students it has.

  35. Liz,
    The article states that many of Morehouse students come from low income families borrow heavily and struggle to repay. Too bad the article didn't include more information about the college and how many graduates it puts into the workforce and their salaries. Morehouse exists for a reason. I have to agree with Nancy.

  36. The "net price" makes no sense.

    Tuition at Stanford or Harvard for four years would be $180-190,000. This does not include room and board, books and incidentals. If a student comes from a well-off family, he or she will have to pay the full amount. If the family earns under $100,000, tuition will be free; if under $60,000, tuition and room and board will be free. It would be far more accurate to list the full cost along with the percentage of students receiving grants and the average grant size.

    On the other hand, UCLA and UC Berkeley are listed at $126,000 for tuition, which is crazy given that tuition is currently about $14,000 per year - which would total about $60,000 for four years.

    Where did they get these numbers?

  37. Don't know the answer, but perhaps they factored in costs to out of state students - I imagine that there are a lot of students who pay out of state tuition at Cal Berkeley, just as there are at U. Michigan.

  38. "Its in-state tuition and fees are $12,864 (2013-14); out-of-state tuition and fees are $35,742 (2013-14)."

    So what they did is to assume that ALL students pay out-of-state tuition. This is so sloppy, we can just forget about the whole ranking.

  39. Doesn't sound like the rankings take into account Harvard, Princeton and other Ivies commitment to grants over loans for students from families earning less than the top 1%.The strength of the grants program more than offsets a high stated tuition, Graduating without crushing debt is the best advantage any school can offer.

  40. False, even with grants the highly ranked Ivies are more expensive than public universities. Particularly, since the same standards for grants and scholarships are available in public schools thus making many public universities cost a lot less or close to zero for qualifying students. President Obama was paying his loans almost to the time he became president!

  41. ED - Where do you get your misinformation? Princeton, for example, requires your parents to submit a financial statement. They then come up with a figure based on thousands of previous students for how much the family can pay. You are then given the rest as a grant--no loans.

    Tell me a public university that does that.

  42. All universities do exactly that, having studied at a Jesuit institution, I can assure you that Princeton doesn't have a grant policy that accommodates your financial need better than the overwhelming majority of public institutions. For example the University of NC, full in state tuition is 4000, dollars at Princeton that wouldn't pay for lunch. Even with that level of tuition grants and scholarships are widely available. Although NC is extraordinarily inexpensive, even the most expensive of flagship state universities cost a fraction of an ivy league school with essentially a catalogue worth of grants and scholarships. Again the only ivy aspect of an Ivy education is the rash left from debt.

  43. Much of the data is self-reported by the institutions and "massaged" one way or another. So take any "USA college rating list" with a grain of salt. The source data can be dubious and there's little oversight.

    If you can afford to go to the Ivies? Go. If you cannot, then go to your state school since your state residency will reduce the costs considerably.

    It is not always that simple I know, but it often is, because college often comes down to money and affordability.

  44. As someone just observed, the top schools are better deals financially than state schools because they offer needs-blind, zero debt financial aid to poor and middle class students. So affordability is not an issue for those who are fortunate enough to be admitted to them.

  45. Not always...I applied to 8 different top schools (a mix of ivy/non ivy) and my financial aid packages ranged from 2k to 25k.

  46. 100% agree. Or, if you know EXACTLY what career you want (and miraculously some 18 year olds do) go to the best school in that field since you're most likely to get good grades/network into a guaranteed career. I would not be where I am without my ivy league education, but all of my state school friends that knew what they wanted turned out more than fine.

  47. I see from the photo that Babsen also ranks right up there in the "campuses with the largest free-standing globes" category - should show up #1 in the National Geographic rankings.

  48. You win the internets for today.

  49. The worst part of the college rankings and average earnings metrics are that kids go to these school expecting to hit those numbers - without putting in the effort and thinking they are owed the jobs/salaries. The sense of entitlement stagnates their own long-term earnings potential.

  50. Money magazine's ranking system is one whose time has arrived. In today's world, it matters more for college to be affordable and lead to a good job with minimal indebtedness. Therefore, instead of referring to Babson College as number one in America, how about naming it best in value?

  51. Depends, I guess, on whether 'return on investment' counts as a 'value'. I've never seen it on any list of desirable human values.

  52. Wouldn't it be nifty if some respected news organization (NYT?) or (USN&WR) came up with some type of value comparison between a Babson or a Morehouse and one of the highly advertised for profit "schools" that purport to teach "creativity for life" by showing one of their highly indebted students leaning how to silkscreen?

  53. there is no valid method to rank colleges / universities---too many variable, lack of verifiable employment & salary data, puffery / false date provided by university officials, and lack of meaningful evaluations by employers. It's all just opinion and guesswork and looks good in magazines and websites.

  54. More information is usually a good thing. Prospective students can use all they can get to make a college choice and data like Money magazine is just one source.

  55. Liberty University is a great 'college' to study the supernatural and the power of Christian prayer.

    However, the study of liberal arts and liberal thoughts are strongly discouraged and unwelcome.

  56. Oh, great, define the quality of a college by how much money its graduates make. Forget Joyce, forget Fermi, forget Schopenhauer --we don't need none of that high-falutin' thinkin stuff when naval architecture will do. It is what Einstein called the ideal of a pigsty.

    Oink, oink, oink.

  57. For the record Babson has plenty of geniuses roaming its grounds. Also, around 30% of my lecturers had PhD's from Harvard when I attended, including its last President.

  58. Just keep in mind that over the last several decades universities have been continuously steered away from education and toward vocational training. I've been in the business for 40 years and have witnessed it personally.

  59. if that was the case than graduates would not have difficulty finding jobs. graduates do not seem to be employable with their watered down liberal arts degree.

  60. These rating systems all impose criteria that don't make sense for everyone and the US News World one is shot through with easily gamed data.

    The prestige of a school makes more of a difference for lower income students, perhaps because these places also tend to give a lift for their choices in graduate education (which i haven't seen investigated).

    Despite having an undergrad education at regionally respected but not nationally high profile state school, I've never felt at a disadvantage with grad school classmates or colleagues who went to very selective places. This surprised me a little--the people who seem quite remarkable who attended Yale, U of Chicago, etc. seem to have found a place that was good for them rather than reflecting those schools. I've known plenty of people with elite educations who are incurious and, occasionally, dumb as rocks. I might have preferred the atmosphere of a smaller school, although they can be stifling socially because of their size.

    An undergrad degree from a selective schools seem to help with getting into a more selective grad school, but even that has limits as a value. My PhD came from a good2nd tier dept that had a more rigorous and uptodate curriculum than the "better" school where I did a postdoc--that sort of thing isn't picked up in ratings of graduate programs.

    The data crunching probably isn't necessary to demonstrate what a sinkhole most for-profit programs are, but hopefully it will help close down more of them.

  61. I fear anything about education at any level that comes from the Obama administration which has demonstrated over and over again profound ignorance of any form of education (as opposed to mere training) all the way from pre-K to PhD. The first educational reform the administration should undertake is to replace the Secretary of Education and his top staff.

  62. Two thoughts:
    1. It seems a little disingenuous to include BYU on that list. LDS church members title 10% of their income, which means that you are pretty much making tiny installment payments on your kids' education for 18+ years.

    2. Money reports that it uses early- and mid-career earnings as reported to the website PayScale as a factor in the "outcomes" component of the ranking. I wandered over to my alma mater's PayScale page and the data displayed is ridiculous. Only a handful of people have reported salaries to the site (relative to the number of alums out there), and more than 60% are considered "early career." Even though my alma mater (incidentally in Money's top 10) seems to do ok by these metrics, I'm incredibly uncomfortable with data based on such heavy self-selection bias.

    Also, the "salary-by-degree" section lists degrees that aren't offered at the university. Hm. I guess fact-checking is not a priority for PayScale.

  63. None of these rankings are meaningful until they account for how many students are taught by adjunct professors and TAs.

    Some students could graduate without interacting with an established expert, especially one who has time to invest in the quality of an institution.

    The temp-labor model of higher education is killing the quality of education in our country.

  64. re: taught by professors and experts... That is why I chose Dartmouth over Harvard. (I do think there's grease under hood of some of these studies worth looking at.)

  65. The silliness of what a best college is continues unabated. College is more than ever a financial proposition. Without a doubt the best school is the university that provides the best education for the least amount of cash. For all students that means the state flagship university. A simple example, my daughter is presently a top college candidate with a core interest in engineering. She not only qualifies academically for any top ranked engineering school in the country, she also an underrepresented minority and sex in that particular field of study. She recently attended a summer engineering program at one of the "top 5" engineering programs in the country and was awarded a 20k/yr scholarship to attend the university. One small issue, even with that scholarship the university would still cost 30K a year! Our state's flagship university, which happens to be in the "top 10" would cost less than that without any scholarships at all! Are those 3 or four ranking points worth 120K? NO! Personally, I did my undergraduate and postgraduate in a barely ranked state university while maintaining top rank class standings, by all measures, professional and economic, I have done extraordinarily well, beating or matching pretty much all my Ivy league educated peers. Trust me the guys with B's and C's in Harvard are not more successful than the top students at public institutions. Don't worry about the "Cadillac" university, your level of achievement while there is way more relevant.

  66. Can you get a "C" at Harvard?

  67. Dude, send your daughter to a great school like MIT. She will have a wonderful, exciting time and yes, employers will notice, although after one establishes a work record it no longer matters much where you went.

  68. I don't particularly think of college as an opportunity to have a great time, its a time for work so you can continue to the next step in the educational ladder given that in today's world a bachelors degree is essentially worthless. My wife an I attended college after my stint in the armed forces, broke, with a child and on food stamps. With great effort and the help of a supportive family we pulled it through. Whether my kid has fun in college is probably last in my priorities, I hope that they work hard and are at least grateful that I can pay for their way. She'll get to a great school like Ann Arbor, Urbana Champlain or Madison. All of which are of the same or better caliber than MIT regardless of fantasy rankings of some magazine!

  69. The handful of magazines out there that still remain in existence should each do their own college ranking list, by some different set of standards. (Now that Money has made a list based on income, maybe the next list should be intellectual growth? The encouragement of public service?) The more of these lists we get, the more we can water-down the problematic stereotyping (of both colleges and people) that these college ranking lists perpetuate. Although I agree that Stanford is probably one of the most likely schools to give financial aid to their students, as it happens, when I went there in the 1990s my dad had to fork over a hefty amount of his savings for my undergraduate education there. All generalizations are wrong, people!

  70. Having worked for a major publication that was always ranking cities I have absolutely no faith in any rankings of any kind.

  71. I love those city rankings -- the ones that conclude that it's better to live in Peoria than New York City. Always good for a laugh.

  72. You mean they just make it up? No way! /s

  73. This may an indication that the "Education Business" should be evaluated as a business and not as education. Did the promises pan out? Did you get your money's worth? What did you expect and what did you get? Why?

  74. Pontificating about parents & kids needing to understand that college is an opportunity and not a right is futile at this point. Americans know this is the way collegiate education now works in this country, and they are adjusting accordingly. The real crisis facing America is the generation of young people (now in their 20s) who came of age BEFORE the Crash in '08, the kids who were raised when 'times were good' and were brainwashed by delusioned parents, teachers & college counselors into believing that going to college and getting into 'THAT' school were pivotal steps on the road to fulfilling the 'American Dream', and that consolidated student loans are 'just another utility bill', after all, even if you take them out at 7% interest. These kids were built up only to have the ground cut out from under them. Writing a whole generation off as 'lazy party animals' is socially irresponsible, a peculiarly American way of washing one's hands of a regrettable past. These young people may very well be the new 'Lost Generation'.

  75. This is great as far as it goes. Not everyone has a head for business or robotics or the patience to go into healthcare or whatever the current top money making profession seems to be. In an uncertain world, with the prospect of a work life lasting many decades and involving not only serial jobs but serial professions, students should be looking to prepare themselves not just for their first jobs but for all their jobs. Rigorous analysis, clear expression, flexible thinking, a strong work ethic, and the ability to research anything are only a few of the hard to measure life skills higher education should be about.

  76. Enough of this!

    The way to choose a college, is to know one's goals. If they are goals pertaining to employment, the question to ask is of the employers "what institutions do you consider favorably in hiring and what degree/certificate are you looking for?"

    Many, may students will find excellent careers and other results going to the school or university that acts as a feeder school to the profession or job in question. Oftentimes, one that is also reasonably close to home.

    Investigating employer-first (two or more representative ones in the field) filters out both the diploma-mill and otherwise questionable schools, and the unnecessarily highly-ranked ones.

    I really wish this were the message, especially to those who are the first in their family to apply to college, rather than these rankings.

  77. Basing a ratings system on future earnings (read: how rich grads are) is the nadir of the baleful college rankings systems. Take an example: I choose to become an inner-city high school teacher; I see it's a critical need in our country right now. If enough of my fellow grads go into fields that are vital for society's functioning but that pay poorly, that will hurt my school's ranking, according to Money. (How apropos a title for this ranking.)

    I'd argue that schools that inspire students to go into fields important for the country but with modest remuneration are often the schools that offer the most rigorous educations. But this ranking system penalizes such rigor and self-examination. This latest iteration of college beauty pageantry is symptomatic of where our discussion of higher education is right now.

  78. It seems like you didn't read carefully. The article specifically says that earnings estimates are normalized by the mix of majors (though perhaps not of actual professional choices) to address exactly the concern you raise. And they even use high-school teaching as their example. "Then it calculates separate scores that adjust for each college’s student demographics and mix of academic majors. A college that graduates an unusually large number of public-school teachers, for example, would see its earnings adjusted upward, so it would not be penalized for focusing on public service."

  79. Career teachers in NYC schools can top out at over $100,000 -- hardly chicken feed.

  80. Takes just 30 years and 3 Master's degrees to earn $100,000. Roughly 12 longer than engineer.

  81. Holy Cow. Why are we rating education as a value proposition, using return on investment as the measurement? Is education not valuable as an end in itself?

  82. Garbage in, garbage out. Money based their income stats on Payscale. Payscale calculates income based on whatever people report to them on-line. Their data is skewed sample and, for many schools, based on a very limited number of submissions. Definitely not data that can be relied upon as representative of reality.

  83. All of these rankings create a farce. The prestigious schools seems to be working towards a single digit acceptance rate to add to their glow. High school students and their parents are straining (emotionally and financially) to plump applications and SAT scores to achieve acceptance at the highly selective schools. Yes, a Stanford experience enables students to rub shoulders with a large number of talented and bright fellow-students and opens doors to opportunities after graduation. Those who gain entrance have done well in high school and are lucky. But much of the benefit of college comes from randomness-the class that excites, the professor who stimulates and nurtures, the out-of-class conversations and projects. A great education is available at almost any college to those with curiosity, motivation and focus. And doing well at a mid-tier college enables the graduate to continue a lifetime of learning or move into a higher tier graduate/professional program. More and more, one's success is determined not from a degree but from skill-set, personal qualities and abilities to work collaboratively and learn from one's failures.
    I doubt there is much difference between the top 10% who graduate from an ivy school versus a state university aside from their parents' income. I speak as a 60+ man who has two degrees from elite private schools, no sour grapes here.

  84. A huge advantage that comes from the Ivies is the connections that are made while there. I would argue my training at an Ivy essentially got me my current job.

  85. Yeah, have to agree with Len, it sounds nice but it isn't true.

  86. Everybody—I mean EVERYBODY— should read William Deresiewicz's article in The New Republic to have their head rearranged on the necessity of avoiding the Ivy League universities. Perpetuation of the status quo needs to go. Students need to embrace a real education, not one that will get them the corner office.

    Read William Deresiewicz's article in The New Republic.

  87. Deresiewicz graduated from Columbia and taught at Yale. I'd rather read someone who had a real education.

  88. Someone needs to start ranking the rankings. The only way a ranking is validated is if it holds up over time. This is slapdash, the information outdated, majors lumped together. (Woe to the private university that offers both engineering AND arts degrees.) Who did this? Summer interns?

  89. When my son was accepted ED to Babson one friend commented that who ever thought my son would go to a college that no one had ever heard of. We had heard of it as a top school for entrepreneurial studies. After our three other children had gone to well ranked colleges without much of a plan we decided to change up our behavior. We spent some time talking with our son about what he liked in High School and what did he never want to see again. We had some help from a friend who had been a guidance counselor. She suggested looking at some of the business schools. He loved Babson, every day and every class. He has had a job since before he graduated. My advice to others has been talk to your child.. there is something they enjoy doing.. look at schools that speak to their strengths.. The chance of them coming out with the ability to turn that degree into a job is much greater. A liberal arts education may not be affordable anymore..

  90. Glad you clarified that ED stands for entreperneirial studies.

  91. ED presumably stands for Early Decision.

  92. I thought the reason for going to college was to learn to be a better thinker. But no. Apparently, it's just a mathematical ratio of how much you pay to attend vs. how much you get paid, later. If you don't earn The Big Salary, your education and your subsequent life are without meaning. So I clearly wasted my 4 years, reading, researching, writing, thinking. BTW, our last 2 Presidents have degrees from Harvard and Yale, yet neither one can comprehend the few words contained in the Constitution's 4th Amendment. Any good reason either of those schools should still be ranked in the top 100? Or is knowledge gained no longer a measuring stick of a good college?

  93. There are many, many reasons to attend college, only one of which is to learn and to expand one's thought processes. I believe that if you removed the possibility of obtaining a better-paying job upon graduation from college than if you had gone directly into the workforce upon graduating from high school, the number of applicants to just about every college and university would plummet.

  94. And so we see the folly in "rankings". Yes, they do have their value for informational purposes but they would be toxic if used as the basis for allocation of financial aid and other funding purposes. There are simply too many caveats. Let's face it, the best way is to adequately and properly fund the students based on means and merit and let them pick the school of choice. Let the markets work. We can do some things to make sure that schools are open and honest about their cost and quality. Overall the basic problem in higher ed is the defunding of the financial aid programs (i.e. replacement with loans) and the proliferation of administrative costs. Ranking based funding and/or performance based funding only make these problems worse.

  95. In reviewing the academic credentials of the 500 CEO's of the S&P 500, the follow were their majors:

    22% Engineering
    16% Economics
    13% Business Admin
    9% Accounting
    6% Liberal Arts

    * Spencer Stewart study

  96. Right, and it is also true that most people don't become CEO's or want to.

    I worked as an engineer and I consider myself blessed to have had a job that I looked forward to every day. But that's because I loved the field. Not everyone is comfortable with higher mathematics or fascinated by NAND gates, or loves sitting down to design a clever circuit.

    Research says that those who work at something because of intrinsic motivation do better than those who work at it because of extrinsic motivation like financial gain. Engineering is a solid career, but there are other learned professions, and from what I've seen, success and happiness are more likely to go to those who choose a career for which they have a personal affinity than a career for which they don't.

    And BTW, while I have run a business, I didn't enjoy it, and while it was profitable, decided to close it down. I much preferred designing things to dealing with lawyers and accounts. Again, one has to do what one is suited to by temperament.

  97. In many (most?) liberal arts colleges, economics is one of the featured majors! Indeed at many, it's now one of the most popular ones. (Same thing is true, although to a lesser extent of engineering; some people major in engineering as part of a B.S at a liberal arts college.) So liberal arts and economics are NOT mutually exclusive.

    I'm tempted to make a comment about potentially misleading use of "statistics"...

  98. With all due respect, Chris, the firm whose study you cite is Spencer Stuart (not Stewart). Even in an age of spell checkers, a liberal arts education may be worth something that can't be quantified.

  99. This is so misleading. A school like Babson prepares & graduates all their students directly for the workforce. A school like nearby Brandeis with higher admissions requirements directly graduates many who go on to graduate, law & medical school. These numbers are not included in the comparisons. (Brandeis happens to have one of the highest admissions rates to medical school). Ultimately, It is comparing apples & oranges.

  100. Agreed. $$$ and job placement cannot match the enriched experience a great university provides. My experience at UPenn was so much richer than the impoverished student experience of the school where I teach now. The beauty of an Ivy school, plus the travel, social, athletic experiences - priceless - and my life is richer than my salary because of it.

  101. The focus on rankings along any valid set of parameters should be on the schools at the bottom, not on Ivies, or even state schools. Is any value in providing student loans (government supported loans, Pell Grants, GI Bill funding, etc.) to attend those schools at the bottom of the rankings, or is it a waste of resources?

  102. What's a waste of resources is this list. It is incredibly skewed to favor the selective colleges, especially the best-endowed privates, and those that attract the most well-to-do students.

    The "net price" of a degree component totally ignores the federal, state, and private grants and scholarships that are not from the individual schools. This automatically puts most public colleges and universities at a disadvantage because most don't have much endowment funds to give as school scholarships despite the fact that many of their students are lower income students who qualify for federal and state grants and scholarships which significantly lower their actual "net price of the degree" to the many students who receive that type of aid.

    Furthermore, including a magical formula to estimate the chances of loan default based on student demographics raises the "net price" of schools that serve low-income populations.

    Finally, using Payscale.com when general salary data for specific types of jobs is available from the US Department of Labor is questionable, particularly
    when there have been serious criticisms of using the service on various lists because of its limited sample sizes and the fact that it's self-reported data.

  103. 25% to 30% of public employees, roughly 5 to 6 million jobs, do not partcipate in Social Security as, as a consequence, their earnings are not maintained by the Social Security Administration. In particular, think teachers, police and firefighters.

    Since many public sector jobs provide middle-income pay, any use of Social Security pay information misses a significant portion of middle income jobs. Not surprisingly, this is the database the Obama admiistration Department of Education is using to evaluate for-profit colleges -- potentially rendering the evaluations useless.

  104. I guess we're stuck with rankings, but most people recognize that there is no "best" college, just as there is no best city, or artist or athlete. Each student is different and a college not at the top of the list may be great for that students desires and abilities. Unfortunately, high school seniors now must run the gauntlet of applying for highly ranked schools that may not even be a good fit for them. Follow your star kids, not the herd!

  105. "there is no "best" college, just as there is no best city, or artist or athlete."

    Justin Bieber?

  106. Most comments are rather surprising.
    These rankings aren't trying to be sold as "better" or "more significant" than others. They just offer a different look on college education based on DATA.
    It is stated very clearly what kind of data the ranking is based on, and the results certainly help providing a broader view on college education.
    Such a different and objective viewpoint should only be welcomed.

    Besides this very basic remark, the high fees that many colleges charge are not guaranteed to be spent on improving the quality of education.
    In fact it is never clear enough how money is spent (are bigger football games making you a better thinker?), and why expensive textbooks are made mandatory for students.

    Last, but not least, it is at best hypocritical to dismiss the importance of the costs and prospective salaries for students. Everyone goes to college nowadays, and we can't all be Socrates or Fermi. It's the 21st century.

  107. There should be more value in learning than simply getting a high paying job at the end of college. What about learning with the goal of expanding one's knowledge, fostering creativity, and learning to think and analyze critically? These skills may be more important in life than landing a six-figure job with one's freshly-printed bachelor's degree.

  108. Why is the government ranking colleges? There are so many private groups that already provide this information.

  109. Google cardinal versus ordinal utility and you will realise that ALL rankings are meaningless. When you add disparate characteristics, whatever the weights you choose, you are adding apples and oranges. It would make much more sense to rank colleges in individual subjects (using peer rankings) overall rankings make no sense

  110. Those who say that it is silly to rank colleges and that such rankings are meaningless probably didn't go to a good school. I graduated from M.I.T. Forty years ago, best investment I ever made. Not only did that university boast Nobel laureates on their faculty, those laureates taught and many of them taught freshmen. For example my first term at M.I.T. I had Salvador Luria for biology and Robert Solow for economics. Over my undergraduate career I took courses from no fewer than five Nobel prize winners. If you don't think this makes a difference then you are kidding yourselves. I went on to other universities as a teaching assistant/graduate student and none of them held a candle to the faculty at M.I.T. And, likewise, the highly competitive student body also heightened the learning experience. Students should never sell themselves short; go to the best school you can get into, and then be prepared to work your butt off.

  111. Just because someone is a Nobel laureate does not mean they are an effective teacher of undergraduates, or anyone else.

    That said, your last sentence misses the point of the article completely. How does one decide which is the "best school" to go to? To take one example, I went to the #5 ranked school according to US News and World Report ( higher even than MIT ) but in hindsight, it was not the right school for me since it lacked the breadth of programs found at larger schools, and I would've benefited from the opportunity to explore more.

    On the other hand, my sister went to a lower-ranked Ivy, and it was likely the perfect choice for her.

    You cannot boil the quality of a school, or its fit for a given student, down to a simple integer ranking. It is way more complicated than that.

  112. I can agree that the "best" school for a given student is not the same for all. You wouldn't go to M.I.T. to study theater but in the sciences it can't be beat. The key message is that trying to go to school "on the cheap" is probably a big mistake.

  113. I agree with Steve, but with the caveat that it only applies to the elite schools. No one can argue that MIT (where my sister matriculated) can be beat for the hard sciences, nor Wharton (where I graduated) for Finance. However, there are only about ten truly elite schools, and the rest are lumped into the large bucket of average. Within the average bucket, relative price matters a lot as quality is generally indistinguishable.

  114. OMG the Payscale survey is so flawed, because it excludes everyone - I mean everyone - who has a graduate degree. A huge percentage of graduates from the Ivies, Stanford, and the top state schools like Berkeley and so forth go on to get graduate degrees. To exclude lawyers, doctors, PhDs, MBAs, and all the STEM post-grads who went to Yale or Duke or UVA undergrad makes the payscale survey a joke.

    And let's face it - if you are applying to Wharton to get your MBA or John Hopkins medical school, your Princeton undergrad is going to help you a lot more than your Babson degree, all else equal.

  115. Actually, not true. Many graduate programs focus on the top 1% of undergraduates. The #1 student at University of New Hampshire will do way better than the middle ranking student at Harvard when it comes to post-graduate opportunity. Don't confuse social value that we attach to a degree with the process used by post-graduate admissions officers. They are not the same.

  116. I somewhat agree but it's pretty iffy. MIT or Standford graduates do not have to go to masters programs if they have a computer science or engineering degree. In fact MIT engineers make ~70k on average after graduation, many could be making within 6 figures a couple of years after graduation. It's a similar story with other engineering programs. Also it's more of a statement on the students attending those colleges than the colleges themselves if more choose to go for a second degree. But I do agree overall that if we are talking about money then this should still be factored in, but I think the results will be around the same with Ivies near the top anyway.

  117. Strange how it took so long for educated people to look at the evidence for the benefits of a college education, rather than buy the most expensive brand name they could find.

  118. No particular ranking makes sense to everyone. It's all the more unfortunate that the federal government wants to compile a ranking using taxpayer's money to direct how to spend tax dollars. A federal ranking, like any other ranking, cannot be fair to the students, the faculty, the college administrators, and above all, it won't serve the taxpayers well. The American higher education system, especially the top private schools, are the world's envy not for the least because the schools were not run by the federal government.

  119. Colleges that send their graduates to high cost/high wage cities will look very good with this method. As a rough example, a college graduate waiting tables in Manhattan will make more than the same skill set in Kansas City.

  120. It's not about which is the "best" school! If I were trying to pick a college, I'd ask "which one is best for ME"?" Translation:

    For people with my SAT (+/-) and demographic and who studied what I plan to study, which school has the highest graduation rate and return rate (grad income income less cost)? That asks, e.g., which is the best school for future white male teachers with average SATs? Or black female engineers in the top 10%?

    I've read research that says that outcomes are best if you go to a school at which you can be among the best, rather than where the average is really high, leaving you in the bottom group.

  121. College has always been a risk/reward decision, but all too recently became a "must do" decision, to the detriment of many. Will you really make more/be happier if you attended Harvard. Perhaps by taking a position at Daddy's firm or living off the trust fund, but generally no.
    I'm an engineer, I love it, and it pays well, but not everyone is suited to it.
    I'd really rather be an artist, but decided that working for myself had it limitations, like an empty fridge.
    At least the Money ranking allows for the conversation with your teen about what the plan is, as all too often , there isn't one. Its not about where you go, or what you study, but what you choose to do with that education, (and that debt) when you move on to the working world.

  122. Herky jerky choices hike ratings - for Money magazine.

  123. if you are going to spend $50k a year so your kid can major in "feel good" studies with no job prospects at graduation, is that not a total waste of time and money? in retrospect, i think it is.

  124. I majored in a humanities discipline and don't regret it one bit. In fact, I would do it all over again, even though I know I'm never going to be wealthy. This may be hard to believe, but not everyone is motivated by money.

  125. To: all concerned
    From: Editors, Money Magazine

    An oversight has been brought to our attention. The number 1 spot should actually go to

    Inheritance U.
    Cost to attend: $0
    Earnings: Potentially in the millions, even before graduating.
    Notable Alumni: Paris Hilton, Donald Trump Jr., Ariana Rockefeller, Brett Icahn, et al.

    We regret the error, and any inconvenience caused by relying on the earlier rankings.

  126. I'm sure Babson is a fine institution, but still ranking it tops is a bit incredible. Many universities don't even offer a business degree, as Babson only offers. How many universities even have the caliber of dropouts that Harvard has?

  127. College choice by spreadsheet. Let me count the ways to say... NOT A GOOD IDEA. College is so much more then how much money do I get when I am all grown-up. No wonder America's golden age has disappeared. Why not just send the kid to "WalMart School".

  128. "I'd rather be governed by the first 500 names in the Boston phone book than by the Harvard faculty." -- Wm. F. Buckley, Jr.

  129. Buckley went to Yale, was a Skull and Bones man, and a mere foil for Gore Vidal to toy with. Quote with care Charles; you are who you be with.

  130. To my view, the education system needs drastic changes. Even graduates of the best universities come out knowing little of the world, with their minds full of propaganda.

    Having spent a lot of years in school and having earned a doctorate, if I had the chance to do it all over again, I doubt that I would have gone to college and entered the giant corporate rat trap.

    Life offers so much more than working all day for a living, but most people can't see it. Only a few hundred years ago, nobody worked the kind of hours everybody works today. And why? For a smart phone, a fancy car, a big house?

    I know many people care desperately about material things, but in the end they mean little, if you don't have your health, vitality, and independence. Working every day for decades crushes all of them.

  131. I have a grandchild who has lived in Scotland for most of her life. She can attend any Scottish college free. St. Andrews is the third ranked university in the U.K. We really should have good inexpensive schools here..but alas our money goes into the war machine.

  132. Hopefully... most of the schools currently ripping people off will either be out of business or radically reformed so that the US actually has a chance in the future. While it's "nice" to see other schools be appreciated for their efforts, instead of the default Ivy mentality, the reality is a US degree is for most people an absurdly overpriced and abusive system which does not serve the best interests of anyone, except the administrators/administrations. European, Canadian and Asian degrees are just as impressive and those graduates are being recruited here in increasing numbers for higher positions.

  133. More bang for the buck, etc., etc. What you get out of college is in direct correlation to what you put into it, with the exception of those who attend for a label, connections and social ladder climbing. Labels like Harvard or Princeton or Yale or (you fill in the top school) grad on a resume pays off. If it is education you are after that is another story,

    I graduated from Queens College (CUNY) in 1956. At the time a greater percentage of QC grads went on for doctorates, professional degrees and other post grad degrees than any other college but one. It was tough to get into QC and you could flunk out if you did not put in the work. The cost of my college education. There was a $5 registration fee, a $15 dollar charge for a chest x-ray on entering and your text books, which you bought used and sold back to the student run book exchange. A 4 year college education was basically free. Everyone commuted to campus by bus or car or bike. The public made an investment in me. I went on to grad school for an MA, La School for a Juris Doctor and an LLM advanced degree in trademark and copyright. I eventually employed a number of lawyers and a support staff. Were it not for this gift of a free college education It would have been the family business for me where I worked after school hours.

    Best gang for the buck? Free college education is a state college for all with a 3.5+ GPA.

  134. I'm sure you know that the CUNY of today bears little resemblance to the CUNY of the 50s. As far as free college education with a 3.5 GPA , it's a good idea in theory. Unfortunately at many high schools grade inflation is rampant and a 3.5 GPA is meaningless. Many of those students might not be able to write a coherent paragraph or make 500 on each section of the SAT. Some states such as Georgis (hope scholarship) and Florida (bright futures) do offer some variant of your plan, but I believe there is also a SAT or ACT score requirement as well.

  135. Rankings are good, the more the better. Each such list provides an important and different perspective on the colleges and universities it ranks. But these articles (and the comments) miss an important point. The vast majority of Americans do not attend Ivy League schools. The nation's once-great public research universities, particularly those in states governed by penny-pinching governors and legislatures, are suffering a decades long decline due to decreased public funding. This is not a positive trend.

  136. Surprising that Babson's home page extolls it's US News ranking as #1"Entrepreneur" college - whatever THAT means. Since Babson doesn't mind rankings, let us crunch: Strong SAT's, great completion rate offset by a horrific 4% black enrollment, 40% adjuct staff teaching 55% of the classes, and, suspiciously, no mention of graduate school attendance. I say Babson earned its "unranked" US News college ranking. As for the governments ranking metrics, caveat emptor.

  137. Well as a Babson graduate let me reply. First off, we are the top entrepreneurship college because our first year we take a class where we actually start a business our freshman. From dealing with marketing to inventory to Chinese manufacturers we get an almost real world look into how a business is run. We also have probably the largest percentage of any college of students and alumni who have started successful businesses, there are many classes targeted to aspiring entrepreneurs. I'm also glad you brought up the adjunct point. That is actually a very good thing! Many tenured professors have been teaching the same thing for 30 years whereas adjuncts (especially at Babson) are executives, entrepreneurs, bankers and economists who have practiced in the real world and bring their experience to the classroom. That is why students are so well prepared to succeed after college. If we have a low graduate school attendance rate (which I don't think is the case) that would be because our undergrad degree is essentially an MBA (in fact I learned more than friends who have received MBAs) so most of us don't need to pursue that route. As for a 4% black enrollment, well that isn't a great percentage but only a little over 5% of the population of New England (where Babson is located) is black. Also Babson even has a program that is largely comprised of black and Hispanic inner city students who receive substantial aid. So maybe learn a little bit more about the school before you comment.

  138. there is more to college than money! How did Babson's football team do?

  139. When you don't have a roof on your head, money to pay loans, job to feed yourself -- football teams stay in oblivion. Do I care? Absolutely not! And this is exactly the problem with the American students compare to global students. While they concentrate on their studies and internships first, American students effusively spend on sports-related activities first. European and Asian top notch universities have sports programs too, but not this crazy, where the coaches are considered Gods and the players demigods. With millions in salary for them, the schools have no pay left for professors. Hence, better ones always move to better schools, and the tier 2 universities never get past their zones, or good students never go there.

    Before you know, more than 50% of these millions of students are in debt. And later in life when the companies need to hire, they will hire the best candidates, usually from the Europe and Asia, while American students keep complaining their jobs have been taken.

    Well Sherlock, get your act straight, do the math and get down to business. While you were spending 50% of your time on sports, others were spending 80% of their time on their future, studies, internships and a stable job.

    What would I do with a passed out kid from Alabama or Oklahoma who doesn't know how to write or communicate? Life is not about football, just so you know!

  140. KK, I think he was being ironic.

  141. Undefeated!

  142. The sad thing about college and the ratings is the emphasis on money.

    What about life satisfaction? Why is that not included in the ratings?

    I read that of the Harvard class of 1920 or around there, only about a third ended up being what we would call happy. Two-thirds were failures or alcoholics or whatever.

    How much does college affect your happiness, which, after all, is in the Declaration of Independence ("life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness"), so it must be important? A kindergarten teacher making $35 or $50 a year or whatever might be very happy indeed (unless she lives in the NYC area, in which case she's happy only if she's married to a hedge fund manager.)

    It's a big decision, what to spend your $60K/yr on (less scholarships and loans). So bring on the ratings, the more the merrier. (Actually too many is bad, makes the decision harder.)

  143. Well thank heaven my alma mater put a stop to its earlier policy of admitting students from low-income families! Those people would really gum up their ranking in this system.

  144. I love it when the STEM people gloat: they are the first to pump gas when their esoteric skill set hits the bottom of the business cycle, the first to get 'aged' out when youngsters come in with contemporary training, the first to 'top out' in pay though they do start higher, and the least flexible in the job market. People have such short memories - no pun intended to you computer people coding for companies with negative P/E ratios.

  145. My wife'S a Penn gal, 1976. My daughter's a Cal grad, 2008. My other daughter is a mother of 4, at 30, who married her boyfriend during her first year at Cal Poly. He's now an engineer for Safeway.
    Guess who fared best?

  146. It's the profession and the subjects you take, not the school you attend. Those days are gone when you could get a job with Theology degree even from Harvard. If someone has a technical degree even from unranked school (top 100 list), he or she can get a job compared to someone who attended Ivy school with sociology major.

    On other hand, the whole ranking equation changes for someone with a postgraduate or a PhD degree - and the US ranking systems seldom consider that.

  147. Admission to graduate school is a whole different animal. I remember it was tough to get accepted into UC Berkeley, but two of my closest friends almost had breakdowns when they went through the application process for graduate school. They were grilled, asked questions in their field, and about their personal lives. They made it in, but remember it as an extremely unpleasant process. Another friend went through an even worse process before acceptance into grad school at Harvard. Admission into Boalt Law at Berkeley was no picnic either. I think the academics refer to this nightmare as a "weeding out" process.

  148. The Times World University Rankings are a more credible source because they are more focused on the breadth and quality of the degree programs and less on "selectivity" or how many students they exclude. Some of the top US public universities have more admissions alternatives to meet their public mission as state funded schools but also have many top ranked degree programs, research funding, more international students and intense competition in the hot programs.

    The world rankings are more focused than US News and Barrons on outcomes rather than inputs like SAT scores.

    From personal experience, very small schools miss what a university offers, breadth of study and student body and intellectual ferment.

  149. This article confirms what people have been stating for many years with their preferences on how they spend their time and money. The current culture, like all previous ones, except the one right after WWII, values de facto: 1) Money, which allows you, for practical purposes, to buy anything and anyone, and 2) Military power,which may be used to protect your property, but also, to take anything from others. For a while, after scientists created the weapon that was used symbolically to end WWII, and to threaten global annihilation if used in a future war, the scientist and their knowledge became cultural heroes. However, as that was slowly forgotten humans started valuing money and power over education and knowledge, again, and that became most evident when the presidency of this country was handed to GeorgeW Bush. After that there have been less and less simulations about what really matters, and today to be consistent and to stop deceiving our young and ourselves, we should remove Socrates, Copernicus, Newton, Darwin, Einstein, and others who have been overrun by greed-driven corporations and persons, who are our current gods.

  150. A reply to my own post:
    My comment above is confusing.
    What I should have said is simply that the College that will be the best for you depends on what you value most. A lot of people go to a College to get a reputation since doing actual valuable work is much harder, but few are worth the title/certificate they bought. Others go to get an education that will help them learn the most about their fields. And others will just go if they are certain it is going to give them a substantial economic advantage.

  151. A huge problem with the Payscale data is they exclude anyone who goes on to earn an advanced degreee. This favors those schools whose graduates stop at a bachelor's over those whose graduates go on to get a postgraduate degree. Does this make any sense?

  152. I don't think the list would change much. Sure the Ivies would move up a little and things will shift around but it should remain about the same. These rankings aren't supposed to be taken very literally. They're supposed to give you some picture and one should take all the rankings/polls, of which there are many, into aggregate. More or less you get a decent picture. I suggest people focus on the best education for the least money and then work their butts off to succeed.

  153. Kudos to Babson! As one who grew up nearby and enjoyed the affordability/benefit of law school tuition 40+ yrs. ago, I appreciate the cost/benefit, sadly infrequently reported! How can we encourage other fine institutions to follow this approach?

  154. The problem with salary information published by colleges: not everyone who graduates discloses their status. If a few dozen graduates of a particular college choose not to report their salary because they are underemployed (or unemployed) then the data published by that school is skewed and their numbers look better.

  155. At this peculiar juncture in our history, the ambitious kids skip Babson and open a marijuana shoppe in the Intermountain West.

  156. When my son was applying to college 2 yrs ago, I bought various financial aid books. The best piece of advice was this: apply to schools where you're in the top quarter. You'll get the most money. Unless you're going to one of the top 20 schools, or are going to major in engineering, it doesn't matter that much.

    The bottom half of the class pays for the top half, because they get the least financial aid.

    It's not easy advice to follow if your kid wants so much to go to the school that gives him or her the least or no financial aid. Fortunately my kid picked the school that gave him the 2nd most (aside from his safety). A lucky win for the parents.

  157. I agree the rankings have flaws. It is valuable to know the schools generous with grants, or which have lower tuition, etc. Still these rankings don't speak to all students. Babson is a great school for business, yet the #1 ranking fails for arts majors. Webb Institute (#2) is a very specialized, well respected college which isn't at the top of anyone's list unless studying naval architecture/engineering. Brigham Young isn't an ideal fit for LGBT students, Morehouse might be a great fit despite the low ranking, unless you're a woman. Money Magazine might try to help students with advice to finance whichever school is the choice of students needing financial assistance.

  158. Who do your children, friends, and you want to be like? Darwin, Newton, Einstein or Basketball and Football millionaires, and Kardashians ?
    Of course that ranking system in which money is number one is the one closest to reality.

  159. From someone who attended several schools in three different states before getting my engineering degree and who has taught at the college level, here's my take:

    Unless you live in a state with a terrible state-supported academic schools (notice I don't care about athletics or the Greek system or any of that ilk), pick a four-year state institution in your home state that confers degrees in your area of interest and go there. Really simple. Save your money and and spend it on graduate school.

    Babson may be great, but not if you want to be a linguist or statistician.

    And it's nice that Christian institutes rank so highly in Money's list, but if you're not Christian or don't want to be any more immersed in that culture than we Americans already are, those schools are not a great choice.

  160. This is so true. Both sons are in engineering and all that matters is fortitude and internships and staying focused. The club med can occur later...

  161. Babson could be number one based on the fact that its campus is incredibly beautiful -- certainly way above and beyond anything here in the Midwest.

  162. Anyone who gets accepted into the Electrical Engineering program at San Jose State U. is a lucky person indeed, I know that much.

  163. This is a risible guideline. Virtually all Ivy schools along with Stanford, Amherst, Williams etc. guarantee that they will meet your financial need if they admit you, and there are NO loans -- all cash. And the average scholarship (again, NO loans) at these schools is in the $45,000 - $52,000 range, so the net cost for the 60+% of students on scholarship is about $12,000-15,000.
    These ratings are all silly, and this one is sillier than most.

  164. Even in the ivy and ivy-type schools you're talking about "meeting student need" often includes loans.

  165. Yes they will meet your need. Oh by the way they define what your need is. i.e. you don't need that home equity or a 401K or any money left over after taxes and tuition.

  166. Education is very important.

    BTW: what does "risible" mean?

  167. Do they normalize for gender? Since women's colleges have no men they therefore will, on average, log substantially less pay than the men and women who go to Babson (or others) due to known gender disparities in pay.

  168. All the criteria listed are valid for any ranking system and I see no problem with many formulas. Replacing Princeton with Babson, in the public mind, is not on the horizon. In the final analysis the selectivity rankings and size of endowments will matter most. Sorry, Babson, wherever you are.

  169. Ouch! That was a party balloon popper. You are right of course; but be easy on the students. They are still kids. On second thought, welcome to the real world, eh?

  170. Education is more than a section of a job application. It is an appreciation of thought and an enhanced ability to understand our world. To evaluate it simply by what it can earn you will devaluate our future. Consider if Van Gogh had been evaluated on his earning potential during his life time, how much value would have been lost in ours.

  171. It is obvious from the cost of attendance there is a lot more at stake than "appreciation of thought and an enhanced ability to understand our world".

  172. I think appreciation of thought and an enhanced ability to understand the world is the higher value here. Our world needs thoughtful solutions which cross academic areas, and we also need art, religion and philosophy. A great University experience will hone your ability to think as well as enhance your vocabulary. It is a sign of success when a student starts as a freshman and then is seduced by the study of some subject he learns about at school. This is why we need to reduce the cost of education, so people stop thinking about it as a ledger on a balance sheet.

  173. I like to see rankings based on the debt load of college graduates. The schools from which students graduate with crazy debt need to be called out. First generation college students and their parents are particularly vulnerable--the financial aid "package" says they can borrow X, and they do.

    The marketing of Chicago's Columbia college gives the impression that their entertainment and arts (including Radio and TV, Interior Design) majors represent viable careers. Many grads of these program are working hard staffing coffee shops, restaurants, and nannying children to pay their ridiculous debt. Their exposure to the career they thought they were working toward? An unpaid internship.

  174. Interesting about what isn't ranked--faculty satisfaction, grade inflation, overall Presidential pay, number of administrators, percentage of adjuncts, percentage of liberal arts degrees. These are vital elements in determining a quality education, but they have few obvious constituencies.

  175. If Presidential pay were included, Ohio State would zoom to the top, even excluding the $100,000 liquor bill each year.

    Done by inflated coaching staffs' salaries and lowest graduation rates, several SEC schools are ahead of the pack.

    Criteria is everything.

  176. Note. In a wide variety of surveys Babson faculty have been ranked in the top ranks.

  177. I was shocked at the cost of college when my son started applying. Luckily, he received a $12,000 a year academic scholarship to go to a small private Catholic University. I went to college in the '70's and the GI bill covered most of it. We did not qualify for financial aid, well, we could get loans, but decided against that for as long as possible, so we write a nice monthly check to the University to cover his tuition, pay for his books and labs and he works to cover his own costs of living (we supplement that pretty often). He is entering his senior year, he is in athletics and on the dean's list, will probably come out with a double major, so I kind of feel okay about it, but still... I can't see him earning anything right out of college that justifies that cost, no matter the ranking.

    I, and my wife, went to community college for our freshman and sophomore years and transferred to a State University to complete our undergrad programs. It was dirt cheap, comparatively speaking. My college education cost about $350 a semester plus $25 a credit hour, my son's tuition is $32,000 a year (thank you for that $12K).

    It does not matter where you get your undergraduate degree, any college will do. What matters is where you get your graduate degree in your chosen profession. And, you need to look at what a particular college is supporting (in $$$) in their graduate programs and research programs.

    If you really want to get a head start in earning power get a trade first. I did.

  178. Absolutely the best advice. If you have a trade to fall back on, you can always put food on the table!

  179. Most rankings are quite useless at times, and no single quantitative method or measure is ever going to let you know which school is the best fit for YOU. Years ago, I was accepted into some typical highly-ranked conventional schools as an inner city student in Boston, but chose to attend Babson due to it's size and academics - not to mention a nice campus. While it has it's flaws, I thoroughly enjoyed my time there as a student, learned a lot, and it helped me land several good job offers.

    Today, I received a Master's from Columbia and am currently a PhD student at Columbia. In comparing my Ivy league education with my Babson education, the unfortunate truth is that I believe my Babson education forced me to work and think harder than my Columbia education has. Having experienced both, I certainly can't say whole-heartedly that Columbia > Babson. So while these rankings to me are actually right on the money, it may not be to you or anyone else, and that is okay.

  180. And another disappointing statement on our capitalist society. What about education for education's sake? What about people who use their education not to earn money but to better society and help others with little financial reward? I guess I would expect Money to come up with a list that ranks everything using currency as the metric. I'll remain grateful for my Liberal Arts education teaching me new ways to think and look at the world including dismissing the idea that we can assign value to the most valuable things in life with a price tag.

  181. You make a good point, but it would be a better point if education were cheap. With free online classes there are a lot of ways to gain knowledge inexpensively. There aren't many ways to get a degree inexpensively

  182. The unfortunate new reality is that college doesn't necessarily provide the typical student with the elements of a career, and it does this while inviting that student to defer work experience during critical years.

    Money's ranking may be strongly biassed toward the subset of students with a career-orientation, but it also appears to be measuring something current and meaningful for that population.

  183. The real problem is that no measures are yet looking at true college success - recruiting historically-excluded yet promising students, helping them graduate in high numbers, then seeing them have a big influence in social measures. This is what has made U.S. colleges outstanding around the globe, but we have almost completely lost the ability to do this competently. Instead, we just look at money-in vs money-out, which any minimumally-competent administrator can manage.

  184. I went to Webb because I wanted to be a naval architect. And I've been giving back to the endowment for 30 yrs since, as 75% of us do. Young folks should follow their dreams with respect for those who can support them.

  185. I'm so glad I found out about Webb through this ranking. Never even heard of it before. I'm going to encourage my son, who loves to build warship models and study up on naval architecture, to apply there. What sort of jobs do graduates typically get?

  186. By the time I graduated I had co-oped in 3 corners of the country - not counting summers! My Ivy kids had some of that exposure. Check out paths of Webb class of '14 at http://www.webb.edu/. Many good schools have a similar model.

  187. Babson is a school that focuses on entrepreneurship. It is a business school. It is not shocking to me that young people who decide, at 18, that their goal in life is to make a lot of money -- and who come from a background that gives them the means to attend Babson -- end up making a lot of money. Whether they end up making a difference is another question.

  188. The "return on investment" from the point of view of the government is "taxes paid", not earnings.

  189. Lots of mistakes in their cost calculations. And their methodology. And no international institutions.

  190. Canadian universities would kill all US universities in such a ranking.

  191. 1955, age 5: "What did you do in the war, daddy?"
    2015: age 5: "You had a job, grandpa? With benefits? What was it like?"

  192. My self-made friend at a Carpinteria software company used to laugh out loud at a New Yorker drawing that showed two scarecrows in a field. One scarecrow had turned to the other and replied, "Mine? Art history."

  193. It's true. I worked for a major software firm and came across people of all different backgrounds. In addition almost everyone I worked with there went to a flagship State U, most were very well paid at the company, some went on to start up their own companies.

  194. Hi,

    The best educator I ever heard of Marva Collin graduated from Clark College in Atlanta. Mrs. Collins educated the kids who were uneducable. Watch her 1995 60 minutes interview.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4qqnBazyeA
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmW_Qu3yhjA

    The "Giant Killer" Attorney Willie Gary who has amassed a billion dollars in personal injury settlements and just recently defeated the tobacco companies graduated from the little known Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina and North Carolina Central University in Durham law school.

    Ann Wigmore a health practitioner whose Hippocrates Health Institute has healed thousands of ill patients including those that Harvard couldn't help had no college degree.

    According to the publication The Harvard Business Review 70% of the world's most profitable corporations are headed by CEOs who do not possess an MBA.

    Despite the perceived and actual advantages of a prestigious undergraduate degree success in any endeavor requires what Napoleon Hill, Dale Carnegie Norman Vincent Peal etc. talked about the "science of personal achievement".

    All of that can be found outside of the school system.

  195. Very interesting ranking indeed. I've never even heard of Webb Institute, but now I'll be sure to keep it in mind when my son is ready for college.

    The one problem I always have with measuring salary after graduation is the mix of majors. I'm not sure why Money magazine feels the need to adjust for majors. If the majority of students major in science and engineering therefore the median is higher, what's wrong with just reporting that? It reflects a truer median.

    What does the Net price include? Just tuition or also Room & Board? The net price for public universities look like it uses tuition for out-of-state students.

    Someday I would like an in-depth study of income and its relation to SAT scores. Do people with higher SAT scores also earn more, regardless of where they went to school and what they major in? It will be the ultimate study to settle the argument of how closely SAT correlates to IQ. I am one who thinks it highly correlates with IQ, and resent those who say people who score well on the SAT are just "good at taking tests". We need such a study to settle the argument once and for all.

  196. It is quite incredible that a magazine like Money would base any part of their "ranking" on a site like Payscale, for its data is based solely on self selecting participants. If you read their methodology, there is no mention about controls, random samples, etc. So, to factor these results into the Money mix at all is rather suspect. But, as the story says, it is something different and did get attention. It's just not very useful.

  197. The state of WA has a fantastic program for highly motivated high school students known as "Running Start". Under this program, students in 11th & 12th grade can take up to 6 courses a year from a local community college(in lieu of AP/IB classes), the tuition is fully paid for by the state.

    Many gifted students and homeschool students take full advantage of this program and by the time they graduate from high school at 18, already have enough credits as a college sophomore. Many were then able to enter the University of WA as a junior straight out of high school. It's a great way to cut cost. The tuition for in-state students at the Univ. of WA is $12,000 per year. It also has a fantastic honors program. The Computer Science dept. is ranked No. 7 in the country, and the medical schools is ranked #10, even higher for internal medicine.

    Not surprisingly, UW is so competitive it is now practically a reach school for in-state students. Many of our high school grads who do not have top grades are forced to go out-of-state. The most popular destinations for WA high school students are state schools in AZ, OR, CO, CA, and BYU.

    International students now make up over 20% of undergrads at UW. These are slots that should go instead to native born citizens whose parents pay taxes, esp. the Computer Science dept. which has limited slots. A parent once offered to pay out-of-state tuition for her in-state child, and the UW still wouldn't take him/her. That's just wrong.

  198. prestige is everything in this world #Princeton4life

  199. And Money magazine got exactly what they wanted: New York Times coverage of their otherwise lost-in-the-pack useless rankings of colleges. Does anyone really believe a degree from Babson will have the same life and career impact as a degree from Harvard or Yale? Btw, neither do the editors at Money. But their PR department had this great idea to get attention...

  200. " Does anyone really believe a degree from Babson will have the same life and career impact as a degree from Harvard or Yale? "

    Yes. The many thousands of Babson alumni all over the world who have helped Babson to be ranked number one in entrepreneurship for about 20 years.

    And who have made it one of the most attractive schools for women from many cultures.

    With careers in both for profit and social sectors in more than 50 nations.

  201. The more ranking systems and published reports out there, the better for prospective students and their parents - more information about post secondary schools, some well known, many less well known. The information is readily available, now it's up to prospective students to seek that information, and figure out which schools will provide the best fit for the student personality-wise, financially and academically.

    No ranking system is perfect, and no ranking system, in my opinion, is better than the others. These are merely a good starting point when researching post secondary schools, but not the final word.

  202. When you abandon the liberal arts and turn higher education into a commodity, you can't then be surprised that we have an oligarchical society and a government exploited by the monied class for their own interests at the expense of everyone else. Should it be surprising that many business majors who have only been trained in making money without being exposed to the humanities, history, philosophy, or ethics would go on to make the kinds of selfish decisions that almost collapsed the global economy a few years ago?

  203. When will buyers of the colleges' diplomas be able to select a college to attend based upon whether a faculty can teach?

    There is no test of faculty's teaching ability comparable with the SAT scores many colleges demand of applicants for admission. This is backwards.

    Let's say 'Consumer Reports' were to give up its efforts to measure the effectiveness of so many of the products that it reviews, give up maintenance costs as a criterion, give up measurements based upon specially crafted instruments - well, just give up its whole protocol for saying why it ranks one product above another, and replace it only with information about the buyers of those products: replace it with the median age of the buyer, of that person's annual income, zip code, education level and the like correlated to the purchase of a particular product, etc. That would be what we have in the college rankings.

    Student test scores say less about the teachers' abilities and more about the competition amongst students to perform on a test, particularly the presumption that a timed test picks up solid information of value.

    Why not define what makes an acceptable teacher, and test for whether a person claiming to be a teacher actually teaches well or poorly, without interference from any student's biochemical prejudices that distort exam results?

    This is an article almost completely not about ranking colleges and almost completely about how to prevail over US News & World Report.

  204. There is the Princeton Review. Check out their ranking of Babson faculty. Very high.

  205. "At its best, higher education does more than train people for jobs. " - Very true. Universities should be more than Dilbert factories. Contributions of alumni to society should be considered. We haven't seen a president from Babson College or Webb Institute.

  206. True, we haven't seen a president from Babson College or Webb Institute. More points for them!

  207. No matter where it's obtained, a degree reflects not only the school, but the effort the student puts forth. As an adult student, I watched classmates do the bare minimum time and again - a constant source of irritation for those of us putting forth 110%, often at the end of a long work day. After finishing undergrad I attended a graduate information center at a prestigious Chicago university where one participant actually asked 'How much homework will there be in this program? I'm very concerned about work-life-social life balance." They can rank the schools all they want. People better start to realize that even that degree from the "best" schools according to some ranking system aren't necessarily proof of accomplishment.

  208. Payscale is a site typically used by job seekers to determine if they are being offered the right salary for a job. A number of people may not use Payscale at all: people in professions that are typically contractors, entrepreneurs, etc.; medical doctors; government employees whose salaries are less negotiable. Also, from what I understand, Payscale only tracks salaries of students who do not go on to graduate school, therefore leaving out the high salaries obtained by students who go on to be lawyers, etc. In addition, Payscale is less often used than two competitor sites, Salary.com and Glassdoor.com, which don't ask users for extensive information about their own backgrounds.

    Therefore, due to the skewed data gathered by Payscale and totally unscientific "sampling" method, I don't think it's useful as a tool of measuring salaries.

    Universities increasingly are being asked to track and report the salaries of their graduates. This--in addition to actually looking at graduates' tax returns, which would be the most accurate, yet most invasive and most bureaucratically costly method--could provide more useful data than a site like Payscale.

    In real life, some things are not measurable by dollars. I'd much rather be a low-paid career counselor with my anthropology undergrad major than a miserable, ineffective, highly-paid investment banker. I think I'm helping a lot more people in my role as a counselor, and my happiness isn't measured in dollars.

  209. "Bang" for buck? Listen, a JOB would suffice. How about (*gasp*) a " Student Job-Placement Program", similar to the ones offered at school`s your boss`s kid attends. Now hold on, I know this is new, lemme explain: an organized program that gives a LIST of employers to freshly graduated students & provides skill-mediation, so that the merit-based hiring process begins ever before graduation! Wow!