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Category: Rankings

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!

5 Takeaways: Simplifying the Application Process Workshop

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Earlier this week, as it is tradition, we had panelists from our soon to be College Freshmen class give their words of wisdom to the class of students applying this year and starting college Fall of 2017.

And so, a HUGE Thank you to the Class of 2020 Panelists who came to give their Words of Wisdom to the Class of 2021 in our “Simplifying the Application Process” Workshop at the CollegeCore Office!

Our Panelists were:

– Aditri Bhagirath – Carnegie Mellon University

– Anahita Sehgal – UCLA

– Ananya Mittal – Princeton University

– Aryaman Sethi – University of Chicago

– Rishab Srivastava – UC Berkeley

– Shankar Salwan – Northwestern University

– Shivam Bajaj – University of Southern California

– Simran Arora – Brown University

ICYMI: We had pages and pages of notes but since we can’t share them all, so see below for 5 Key Takeaways from our students.

1) Make a Balanced University List:

Balanced2

Enthusiastic parents and ambitious students may say “Ivy League or nothing else” but be realistic about it.

Dreams are dreams for a reason. You may feel right now that you want to apply to all the Ivies even if you have no chance of getting in, but each rejection hurts a lot. You need targets and safeties to balance that.

And we mean targets too. Applying to 8 Ivies and 1 safety like Drexel isn’t good either. What if you only got into Drexel? Would you go there?

Plan out Early Action and Early Decision as well but understand where it gives you an edge versus where it may be better to apply Regular Decision.

2) SAT / ACT Tips

SAT

The sooner you finish your SAT / ACT testing the better. Plus a reminder to Self-Study. No one can teach you to take the SAT, you have to put in the effort. The tutors have tips and tricks and ensure practice. Remember you are taking the test and not your tutor so the effort has to come from you in the test and before the test.

But don’t put too much pressure, the SAT / ACT isn’t the be all and end all. An excellent SAT score won’t save you if your school grades aren’t there. Remember, the SAT is a reflection of one day of exams and not of four years of prep like your grades. So balance your efforts.

3) Get cracking on your Essays

Start soon. You may write one CommonApp essay or you may write three. The most difficult part is starting. Remember you’re trying to stand out, so don’t make it generic, it needs to be about something important in your life. Don’t harp about your achievements, the rest of the CommonApp will cover that. Instead talk about challenges and motivations. Don’t be clichéd. If you are talking about a somewhat generic topic (like sports or community service), bring a new perspective like talking about your motivations why rather than narrating what happened. Don’t get too much feedback. Each perspective will confuse you and will be distracting. Do keep your focus narrow. This is a “Slice of Life” essay and a small experience and not story of your entire life. Follow us on Facebook because keep posting the latest essays available.

4) Take Charge of your Interviews

Unlike job interviews, these interviews are informal. They aren’t subject specific and can feel random at times. Prepare the questions but don’t rehearse them otherwise you will sound stiff. Balance. Guide your interviewer: You can guide the interview to discuss things you want to talk about. Suppose you want to discuss your dance and your interviewer chats about Bollywood. This is what you can do.

  • I’m a huge Bollywood dance fan!
  • But my favorite is Jazz which I’ve been learning for the last three years (showing your accomplishment)
  • In fact, I was really interested in the Jazz dance troupe at XYZ college (connecting to the college)

But don’t talk the entire time, let your interviewer talk to and let it evolve into a conversation. Remember to be prepared with questions at the end.

5) Don’t Overdo the Recommendations

There are school recommendation and external recommendations. Each University allows a different number of external though they all want 1 Counsellor recommendation and 2 Academic Teacher recommendations. But just because the college allows more, doesn’t mean you should send more. College Admissions says heavier the file, the faster it sinks. Only send them if they add value and aren’t repeating the same thing over and over.

Mantra of the Day: BALANCE

Balanced

Don’t spend all the time on school, or all the time on applications

Don’t overdo or underdo extracurriculars

Don’t make crazy unrealistic University lists

Balanced3

Reading College Rankings

Rankings

The U.S. News Rankings came out early last week. In case you missed them, check them out here.

But 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!