College Comparisons

These are my personal college “rankings”, but I provide links to other rankings that I use to acquire my data.  I will start with National Private Universities.  Here is the uploaded spreadsheet with the rankings.  (I will give the reasoning behind my method below.)

National Private Rankings

I am trying to find the best schools to attend for an undergraduate education.

Here are the three types of data which are easily available, along with the explanation of how I think they can be used for measuring the quality of undergraduate education.

1) In 2003, the Wall Street Journal published rankings based on the percentage of school’s alumni  that started that fall at the top business, law and medical schools. (SeeWall Street Journal 2003 Ranking or,,SB106453459428307800-search,00.html).  I like this data because this percentage should reflect how good the “output” of the undergraduate school is for students with these interests.  Also, the percentage can be used as a measure of the relative quality of different schools.

2) Washington Monthly ranks colleges.  ( One data point that they give is the rank of a school with respect to how many of their own graduates go on to get a Ph.D. somewhere.  This should give some indication that of the kind of job the school does of educating students that don’t fit into 1) above.  For example, CalTech is higher than Harvard in this ranking but lower in 1).  Since I don’t have the raw data, just the ranking, this measure isn’t quite as reliable as 1) above.  (I am going to try to acquire the data and, if I can, I wll adjust my rankings.)

3) gives data on ROI (return on investment).  This should give us a ranking for those not accounted for in either 1) or 2)

Important Notes:

This is a first shot at this “ranking”.  Also, I will add public and liberal arts schools later.  In all of these “rankings”, my final “rank” for a school will be based on output/input.  For this first pass, the output is my score for the school.  The input is the estimated median SAT score for the school.  I think it would be better to measure standard deviations for each, but I’m just one blogger, and will have to get to that later.

I suggest reading Bill Gates on measuring schools outputs, instead of inputs, as US News does. You can read an interview with him at

I only “rank” the schools for which I have all three data points.

Here is a way to use these rankings.  Try reranking based on various criteria listed on the spreadsheet.  For example, if you want to be a doctor, you might just want to use the WSJ ranking.  If you want to be an English Prof., you might want to use the Ph.D. rank, etc…  By doing this, it seems to me that your  are really “comparing” schools, not “ranking” them.  (That is why I put “ranking” in quotes.)  Since data is so approximate, and schools are so different in so many ways, it seems to me that “ranking” is too strong for comparing universities.  So, I guess I use “ranking” in a weak sense.  It just means some vague number is higher for one school than another.  In other words, there are obviously errors in the numbers.

I will add sub-pages to this page, and/or update this page from time to time.  For example, I am adding one now.