College and Law School Rankings Done Right

Everybody rants about the US News & World Report education rankings. I’m going to as well just because I find them to be unhelpful. I was watching college football today and started thinking about how many colleges that are athletic powerhouses don’t necessarily find themselves at the top of US News’ college rankings. That, in turn, got me looking at the rankings.

Why is it that the sixth-best scoring school gets ranked tenth? These are the top ten national universities as US News lists them:

1. Harvard, Princeton

3. Yale

4. Columbia

5. Cal Tech, MIT, Stanford, UChicago, UPenn

10. Duke

Ok, so what we have here are some ties. Well ties happen, fair enough. The raw scores that Princeton and Harvard got were the same so they share #1. Yale gets the next highest score but instead of getting 2nd place gets ranked 3rd. I don’t find this very helpful. Actually, I don’t find it helpful at all. It makes Yale seem worse than it is (even if only a little). It’s worse for Duke. From the list above, one gets the impression that Duke is several ranks below its friends at fifth place when, in fact, it actually gets the score just below them.

I did a cursory search for some explanation of why US News does this but I found no answer. If you have one, I’d love to know. But regardless of why, I think its unhelpful at least and harmful at most. It can only serve to make academic institutions appear to be comparatively ranked lower than they actually score. Accordingly, I’ve listed the top twenty-scoring colleges below:

  1. Harvard, Princeton
  2. Yale
  3. Columbia
  4. Cal Tech, MIT, Stanford, UChicago, UPenn
  5. Duke
  6. Dartmouth
  7. Northwestern
  8. Johns Hopkins
  9. Wash U. in St. Louis
  10. Brown, Cornell
  11. Rice, Vanderbilt
  12. Notre Dame
  13. Emory
  14. UC Berkeley
  15. Georgetown
  16. Carnegie Mellon, USC
  17. UCLA, UVA, Wake Forest
  18. UMich
  19. Tufts, UNC
  20. Boston College, Brandeis

And hey, while we’re at it, I’ve re-ordered US News’ law school rankings below as well. You’re welcome.

  1. Yale
  2. Harvard
  3. Stanford
  4. Columbia
  5. UChicago
  6. NYU
  7. UMich, UPenn
  8. UC Berkeley, UVA
  9. Duke
  10. Northwestern
  11. Cornell
  12. Georgetown, Texas
  13. UCLA, Vanderbilt
  14. USC, Wash U. in St. Louis
  15. George Washington, U. Minnesota
  16. Boston U.
  17. Indiana-Bloomington, UC Davis, U Illinois-Urbana Champaign, Notre Dame
  18. Boston College, William & Marry, U Iowa
  19. Emory, Fordham, UNC, U Washington, Washington & Lee
  20. Ohio State, Alabama, Georgia, Wisconsin-Madison

-Zachary Cloud

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