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Forbes college ranking system under scrutiny

Anyone who reads my book, How to Transfer to a UC from a California Community College: The Unofficial Guide, will find an entire chapter devoted to numerous college ranking systems and their methodologies.  One such ranking system covered is Forbes.

Interestingly, in Forbes Magazine itself, writer Chris Teare critiques his parent company’s methodology in his article, Forbes’ College Rankings: A Critique, and suggests a new model needs to be put in place. It’s an enlightening read, the gist of which is:

  • Forbes puts significant weight on the results from the site Rate My Professor. Teare notes a short-sighted flaw: Oftentimes, in the heat of the moment, a student might not like a difficult professor who in hindsight turns out to be the gem of the lot.
  • Forbes’ ranking also puts emphasis on high-achieving admitted students (read: scholarship awardees), and then doubles down by adding additional weight to the back-end, where graduates receive more accolades (Rhodes scholars, et al). Considering the applicants were high-achieving when entering, where is the proven added value? High-achievers tend to be high-achievers.
  • Likewise, Forbes calculates how many Ph.Ds spit out of the university’s ranks.  But Ph.Ds are simply one avenue toward success and should not be the bellweather.
  • Lastly, Forbes critiques post-graduate success based on Payscale salaries. The not-so-subtle message is success equal money earned.  (By the way, I wouldn’t call Payscale very accurate to begin with.)

Teare has some suggestions for changes. You can read the full article here.

Lindy King

Independent UC admissions consultant

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