Category: College Education

Reading College Rankings

U.S. News Rankings, Business Week Rankings, QS World Rankings, Forbes Rankings which rankings should you base your college selection on and are college rankings really the best way to shortlist your colleges?

This post is not to examine the various ranks and what that reflects about the school. This post is to understanding the ranking process, both what we learn from it and why they can sometimes be misleading and disheartening.

First though, there is a clarification needed. While most people know that all Ivy League schools are good, the word Ivy League is sometimes used to name the top 10 colleges on the list. However, that is incorrect.

What is the Ivy League?

The Ivy League is the term used to refer to the eight schools that make up the Ivy League athletic conference. Below is the Ivy League schools list and their U.S. News Rankings for 2016:
• Princeton University – #1
• Harvard University – #2
• Yale University – #3
• Columbia University – #4
• University of Pennsylvania – #9
• Dartmouth College – #12
• Brown University – #14
• Cornell University – #15

The term Ivy League has become synonymous with prestige, selectiveness, and high rankings and for this reason, so many people use this label incorrectly. However, it is important to note that this list does not include other private universities like Stanford, UChicago, Duke and MIT to name a few.

But Ivy League is NOT EQUAL to Top 10 Colleges

Having clarified that, let’s dive into a couple of things

1) What Goes Into Rankings?

2) How do you Use these Rankings?

3) Why do People Like Rankings?

4) What Do I Do Instead?

First, What Goes Into Rankings?

That depends on who is ranking them. What do we mean by that? Different rankings use different criteria to measure effectiveness.

US News’ list most strongly emphasizes the academic reputations of the colleges. They take into account opinions of peers (e.g. Harvard’s opinion on Stanford), evaluate research and professors.

The Forbes list most heavily emphasizes student outcomesAmongst various factors, it evaluates student salaries after graduation.

Similarly, the Bloomberg list is incredibly valuable when looking at Undergraduate Business Schools. This is because the list takes into account employer feedback on these schools which is an important opinion for graduates from these colleges. The Niche looks at the quality of life and Princeton Review uses a variety of criteria and has rankings like “Best Campuses.”

TLDR: Each ranking is unique in what it chooses to focus on and so, use a variety of rankings to form opinions instead of putting on blinders.

Second, How do you Use these Rankings?

Well, rankings shouldn’t be the reason to apply to a college. More specifically you should never say, in your essays that rankings are the reason to apply. Saying “Dear Princeton, I’m applying because you’re #1” is like saying “Dear Girl / Guy, I’m dating you because you’re rich.” It’s crass, don’t do it.

However, use rankings to understand where a college stands. In Delhi University, when you consider a list of just about 20 colleges, a top 10 list helps you compartmentalize the list. But the U.S. has 300 good colleges and so the difference between #1 and #5 is drastic in DU but not in the U.S.

Why do People Like Rankings?

Because they are quick. If you’re new to the process of admissions, the information can see overwhelming. Rankings are a quick and easy way of simplifying the data.

What Do I Do Instead?

Figure out what you want from college. Do you like big cities or want a campus that has open fields? Do you like large class sizes or small ones? That will help you figure out which college you are best fit for. These differences are massive. Even if you look at the Ivy League colleges, in fact, Columbia is a city campus and quite a bit smaller than say Princeton which is a suburban campus. Read up more here.

And we aren’t saying don’t use rankings at all. Just don’t use one ranking. Even with US News, they divide Liberal Arts colleges and National Universities. So, you can’t compare Williams (#1 Liberal Arts College 2016) to Princeton (#1 National University 2016). Using a mix of rankings allows you to figure out if a school is in a top-tier band or a second-tier band.

A quick note: While we focus on the U.S. here, these notes apply to the Guardian Rankings for the U.K. or the Q.S. World News Rankings. Even the India Today rankings!

Passport to the World: A Snapshot View of College Education around the World

Its May! And even though traditionally December is the end of the year, for students May can often represent that end, especially since they have their eye on summer vacation around the corner. May 1st brings an end to the admissions cycle for US applicants who may their final decisions on colleges. Later in May, as Board results come out, other college decisions are made.

However, for other students, namely those starting their college journey, May is the beginning! Summer vacation brings holidays to fun places, catching up with school and working through reading lists. And so, as you explore higher-education opportunities around the world, we at CollegeCore decided to create a quick introduction to approaching college applications to colleges and universities around the world.

United States of America (USA): The idea of the American Dream isn’t a new one. Nor is the fact that US colleges and universities consistently rank amongst the best in the world. Which is why it isn’t surprising that the United States is probably the most popular destination for students venturing out of their home countries to study abroad. Most US institutions offer flexible programmes for all students, which help them find their interest before deciding on a major; this is particularly interesting to students coming from rigid curriculums like the majority of those offered in India. However, with 3000 incredible universities and an application process which is both involved and complicated, it is no wonder CollegeCore helps dozens of students through their applications every year! Whether its understanding the difference between Ivy-League and Public-Ivies, figuring out whether to ACT or SAT and wading through dozens of essays, the US application is a convoluted process with big rewards at the end of the journey.

Canada: Oh Canada! Now, more than ever, students applying to college in the US are also looking to Canada for more college and university options (especially considering the tenuous political climate and its impact on employment in the US). With incredible, world class universities to choose from, co-op programs which allow students to blend studying with valuable work experience and a more welcoming employment environment than the country to its south, Canada is an option we see more and more of our students choosing each year. And to great success! We have students attending all the top 10 universities in Canada with students making a clean sweep in their applications every year so consider Canada (though beware the cold weather that impacts the majority of universities). Like the US, Canada offers 4 year programs. However, co-op programs which includes work experience along with the academic course extends 4 year college to 5 year.

United Kingdom (UK): UK is a popular destination for students from India and why not! The UK and India may have had a difficult history fraught with conflict but there is immense familiarity in the education systems – three year programs, academically driven college decisions and education in English. But as is the case with most academic driven college decisions, competition is tough and so, we guide students as they apply to Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial, UCL and LSE, truly the best of the best universities. With only one application allowing you to apply to a maximum of five schools, every step of the application counts to secure the college of your dreams. The UCASApplication form allows you to apply to 5 programs. It could be 5 different universities or 5 different programs in 1 or more universities. Moreover, it is important to note that due to the Oxbridge system, students can only apply to Oxford OR Cambridge, not both. While UK is still understanding the impacts of Brexit, the education system has felt no big impacts.

Singapore (S’Pore): With its relatively affordable education and top-notch courses in computer science, applied science, law and economics, Singapore is an excellent destination for students who are academically inclined and ready to perform their best. Being geographically proximate to India also means getting the chance to study abroad without ever feeling too far from home. Its rigorous curriculum, world-recognized degrees and a Ministry of Education Tuition Subsidy (Scholarship) to ease the financial expenses, mean that Singapore attracts more and more students to every year. The Ministry of Education Tuition Subsidy requires the recipient to work in a Singapore-based company for three years after graduation but is an excellent opportunity. Moreover, Singapore list of top universities universities also include Yale-NUS, which is the Asia location for Yale’s excellent faculty allowing students to access incredible education closer to home. Yale-NUS has the same application needs as US universities so it is different from the other Singapore universities such as NUS and SMU which are focused on grades to make admissions decisions.

Hong Kong (HK): What is it that your mind conjures when you hear the words ‘Hong Kong’? If you are thinking about a city of skyscrapers, busy businesses and maybe Bruce Lee movies, then your guess is right. But Hong Kong is also one of the major hubs for education in Asia, giving Singapore stiff competition as an excellent place to study STEM courses and engineering. Students can make the most of these technical courses taught in English Language while successfully positioning themselves to get great jobs in its fast-paced economy. So whether its HKU, HKUST or City University of HK, Hong Kong is definitely becoming a strong study-abroad destination for students who are looking for the next hub in Asia.

Europe: For the longest period of time an education in Europe meant studying in the UK. And though the UK continues to be a strong favourite, stricter visa rules and the decreasing number of employment opportunities are resulting in students considering other choices. And for good reason! European colleges offer great education but they also offer the opportunity to experience cultural diversity. However, language of instruction is often in the local language so we encourage students to take that into consideration when applying. If you don’t know French or German reconsider the application or look for programs in English which are limited. So whether you want to study Hotel Management in Switzerland, Engineering in Germany or Political Science at Sciences Po France, explore Europe as more than just a vacation spot.

USACommon App+
4 yearsLiberal
Arts – allows
to study beyond
Canada Individual
4 years (5
with co-op)
Flexible but less
than USA
35 lakhs
UKCommon App
3 years (4
in a few)
Restricts classes
to major
25-35 lakhs
Depends on
Restricts classes
to major
Differs by
college &
4 yearsRestricts classes
to major
18-25 lakhs
4 yearsRestricts classes
to major
18-25 lakhs

With the myriad of opportunities out there, we encourage students to use their summer break to explore, bring thoughtfulness and clear direction to their application process, and seize those passports to explore the world!

CollegeCore works with students applying to a myriad of colleges around the world and has been doing so for well over 17 years. Reach out if we can help you seize your passport to the world.