GMLR Ranking Version 1.0 | Beyond College Rankings

GMLR Ranking Version 1.0


Rankings
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Ah, and here it is. At least as of now – this changes regularly – this is the ranking of schools according to my personal preferences. So this actually isn’t exactly an ordering of my favorite schools. Instead, it’s a ranking composed of the categories I personally deem most important to the type of education and cultural/academic environment of which I want to be a part. Methodology at the bottom.

  1. 1. Swarthmore College
  2. 2. Pomona College
  3. 3. Reed College
  4. 4. University of Chicago
  5. 5. Brown University
  6. 6. Grinnell College
  7. 7. Haverford College
  8. 8. Stanford University
  9. 9. Rice University
  10. 10. Macalester College
  11. 11. Carleton College
  12. 12. Princeton University
  13. 13. Wellesley College
  14. 14. Yale University
  15. 15. Wesleyan University
  16. 16. Columbia University
  17. 17. Amherst College
  18. 18. Vassar College
  19. 19. Harvard University
  20. 20. Harvey Mudd College
  21. 21. Dartmouth College
  22. 22. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  23. 23. Bryn Mawr College
  24. 24. Barnard College
  25. 25. Smith College
  26. 26. Oberlin College
  27. 27. Bowdoin College
  28. 28. St. John’s College in Maryland
  29. 29. Whitman College
  30. 30. Hampshire College
  31. 31. Occidental College
  32. 32. Brandeis University
  33. 33. Davidson College
  34. 34. Middlebury College
  35. 35. Mount Holyoke College
  36. 36. Williams College
  37. 37. Washington University in St. Louis
  38. 38. University of California at Berkeley
  39. 39. Northwestern University
  40. 40. Kenyon College
  41. 41. College of William and Mary
  42. 42. Duke University
  43. 43. Cornell University
  44. 44. Beloit College
  45. 45. California Institute of Technology
  46. 46. Knox College
  47. 47. University of Virginia at Charlottesville
  48. 48. Claremont McKenna College
  49. 49. Georgetown University
  50. 50. Carnegie Mellon University
  51. 51. Kalamazoo College
  52. 52. Johns Hopkins University
  53. 53. University of Pennsylvania
  54. 54. Agnes Scott College
  55. 55. Bard College
  56. 56. Sarah Lawrence College
  57. 57. University of Michigan at Ann Arbor
  58. 58. Bates College
  59. 59. Hamilton College
  60. 60. St. Olaf College
  61. 61. Scripps College
  62. 62. Colby College
  63. 63. Colorado College
  64. 64. Earlham College
  65. 65. Vanderbilt University
  66. 66. Colgate University
  67. 67. Lawrence University
  68. 68. College of Wooster
  69. 69. Trinity University
  70. 70. Tufts University
  71. 71. University of Notre Dame
  72. 72. Hendrix College
  73. 73. Austin College
  74. 74. New College of Florida
  75. 75. Emory University

First, I’ll attempt to explain my preferences. I love learning for the sake of learning, as opposed to a practical, career-oriented environment. Of deep importance to me are close interaction with professors; an ambitious, happy, and progressive student body; and a discussion-based classroom environment. I have a strong distaste for suburbs, and love close proximity to both rural settings and urban centers, both ideally accessible without a car. Finally, as an athlete and huge college sports fan, I would love to be at a campus where there is a very active student body, and major conference Division 1 sports is a big perk for me.

To approximate these preferences, I created two separate ranks, a Culture Rank and Academic Rank, which I weighted equally. The Culture Rank includes many components, including numerous diversely weighted categories from the top 20 lists in the Princeton Review’s Best 377 Colleges and specific categories from Unigo.com’s student ratings for each school. Minimal weight is assigned to each individual category, but in sum the Princeton Review ranks are 1/3 of the score and the Unigo ratings are 1/3 of the score. I also created a separate culture/nature/sports access rank that is my own subjective creation. I assigned each school a culture score based on non-automobile access to dynamic urban centers, a nature score based on easy access to rural, especially scenic areas (I like water and mountains), and a sports score based on the conference affiliation of a school and the quality of their basketball and football teams. This score carries the remaining 1/3 of the weight for my Culture Rank.

Here are the top 25 Culture schools:

  1. 1. Swarthmore College
  2. 2. Reed College
  3. 3. Pomona College
  4. 4. Claremont McKenna College
  5. 5. Brown University
  6. 6. Carleton College
  7. 7. Macalester College
  8. 8. University of Chicago
  9. 9. Whitman College
  10. 10. Grinnell College
  11. 11. Rice University
  12. 12. Stanford University
  13. 13. Haverford College
  14. 14. Columbia University
  15. 15. Smith College
  16. 16. Georgetown University
  17. 17. Davidson College
  18. 18. Barnard College
  19. 19. Wellesley College
  20. 20. Wesleyan University
  21. 21. Dartmouth College
  22. 22. University of North Carlina at Chapel Hill
  23. 23. Vassar College
  24. 24. Washington University in St. Louis
  25. 25. Vanderbilt University

The Academic Rank is much simpler. It’s equally between two parts: the 2003 Wall Street Journal Feeder School ranking and the 2006 Baccalaureate Origins of PhDs ranking, produced through data collected by the Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium (HEDS). The WSJ rank carries 1/4 of the rating and the PhD rank carries 3/4. This was a simple choice I made because I enjoy theoretical learning – the kind that redefines disciplines – more than I do advanced preprofessional learning. Since I do respect the latter though, it carries a great deal of weight (1/8 of the total score). Following are the top 25:

  1. 1. Swarthmore College
  2. 2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  3. 3. California Institute of Technology
  4. 4. Harvard University
  5. 5. Princeton University
  6. 6. Yale University
  7. 7. University of Chicago
  8. 8. Bryn Mawr College
  9. 9. Pomona College
  10. 10. Williams College
  11. 11. Reed College
  12. 12. Haverford College
  13. 13. Grinnell College
  14. 14. Amherst College
  15. 15. Stanford University
  16. 16. Rice University
  17. 17. Brown University
  18. 18. Wellesley College
  19. 19. Wesleyan University
  20. 20. Harvey Mudd College
  21. 21. Macalester College
  22. 22. Carleton College
  23. 23. Johns Hopkins University
  24. 24. Duke University
  25. 25. Cornell University

There are many obvious and huge flaws to this ranking, the most obvious of which is the clear fact that my alma mater, Northwestern, is not in the top 25 of either Culture or Academic Ranking and falls in at number 39 overall. While these numbers suggest to me that perhaps I would have been happier at another school, they also suggest that I reweight my proxies. I loved (that is, love) Northwestern and in many ways am happy to argue that it is the best school in the US. In fact, Northwestern was a clear number 1 in my self-designed culture/nature/sports portion. However, weaker scores in the areas I weighted most (professor accessibility and PhD production, most notably), dropped it significantly. Being realistic, though anything in the top 50 or more is an incredible match for me.

A second obvious weakness is that I’m confident I wouldn’t want to attend Reed. I have the utmost respect for Reed and hold it as one of the three smartest colleges in the US (with UChicago and Swarthmore), but Reed’s extreme lack of sports interest is a major turn off for me. Even though Reed lost major points in that particular category, it still emerged in the Culture Rank as the #2 school. This indicates two things: 1) the classroom dynamic, intellectual environment, progressive student body, and professor accessibility are incredible matches for me, and 2) I should add contingencies into my rankings. If I were to do it all over all, I’d eagerly apply to Northwestern (and I would definitively not apply to 39 schools) and reluctantly pass on Reed.

As a whole, though, this is a subjective ranking where I’ve chosen the variables following my preferences, and learned a lot in the process. No matter how I look at it, Swarthmore is my clear top school. If only I were 17 years old again…

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