A group affiliated with the Stanford University Graduate School of Education has put out an interesting analysis and report “A ‘Fit’ Over Rankings: Why College Engagement Matters More Than Selectivity”. Basically it says that college rankings are not a useful indicator for quality or outcomes from a student’s perspective. Students and parents would be better off ignoring rankings when choosing a college or university. “Selectivity” (how hard it is to get an offer) is not a reliable indicator either.
What is important is “engagement” inside and outside the classroom. Opportunities for internships (or co-op), mentors, long-term projects (maybe like student design teams?) are all examples of “engagement” that they cite in the report. There are lots of other interesting details and observations, so I highly recommend having a look at it if you’re thinking about applying to university.
In a recent post about rankings, I showed that Waterloo often appears in the rankings alongside colleges like Penn State, Texas A&M, Purdue, UCLA, Michigan, etc. So perhaps the next question is, “how does Waterloo look and feel compared to these or other colleges?”. Rankings are one thing, but if you don’t like the environment then the ranking probably doesn’t matter. By “look and feel”, I mean the general campus environment (architecture, space, etc.) and situation (urban, suburban, rural, etc.). Waterloo is a fairly young university (just 60 years old this year), located within a medium sized city (population about 380,000 if you combine the twin cities of Waterloo and Kitchener), so how does that compare with those places? Continue reading
I (and many others) don’t put a lot of confidence in rankings as a useful tool for high school students in selecting universities, but people tend to look at them and debate nevertheless. The problem is, there are so many rankings available with different criteria and methodologies. How do you make any sense of it?
Recently, I was reading about a statistical analysis technique called nearest neighbour analysis, and it gave me the following idea. Why not look at several ranking system results for Waterloo and see if there is any commonality in the universities that are ranked around the same level? So, I looked at the most recent Engineering rankings from QS, Times Higher Education, US News, ARWU, and URAP, and focused on just universities in North America. I looked at Waterloo’s position, and the next 10 ranked above and below. The result is shown in the following table, where the number in parentheses is the global rank… Continue reading
I’ve noted in past postings about rankings that I’m somewhat sceptical about their meaning or importance, especially for undergraduate admissions. But QS recently released a ranking that might be a bit more applicable, their new “Graduate Employability Ranking” for universities. Prospective students and parents are usually quite interested about what employment prospects a degree will lead towards, so perhaps this is useful in some way. According to this ranking, Waterloo is #25 in the world, just a bit below Michigan and Chicago, and a bit ahead of Caltech and Georgia Tech, for example.
Looking at the methodology, we see that it is substantially based on an employer reputation survey, but there are other factors such as “partnerships with employers” and “alumni outcomes”. It’s not clear exactly what these mean, but they seem like promising quantitative indicators.
Focusing on Canada, the rankings are: Waterloo (25), McGill (36), UBC (48), Alberta (81-90), McMaster, Montreal & Queen’s (101-150), Calgary (151-200). Conspicuous by its absence is Toronto (and some others), which I presume means that they chose not to participate for some reason. The other thing to keep in mind is that these are overall rankings, not specific to any one discipline like engineering. Different schools have different mixes of discipline enrolments, so it’s difficult to know how this may affect the rankings.
So, for what it’s worth, another university ranking to look at.
(ProfBillAnderson: Yet another ranking, but one I haven’t noticed before. This one puts Waterloo in the top ten of student preferences when choosing between offers. An interesting article and worth a look.)
Stanford University tops another new college ranking list. But the rest of the Parchment Top 25 might surprise you.
Source: When students have choices among top colleges, which one do they choose? – The Washington Post
The fall is University Rankings season, as a bunch get released each year. Alex Usher has a nice blog post that summarizes the major ones and what they include. I’ve written posts about rankings in the past, which you can find using the search function if you wish. In general, for high school student applicants I usually suggest that they be very careful about putting too much weight on these rankings, for various reasons discussed before and illustrated below. Continue reading
The universities in Ontario contribute data to the “Common University Data Ontario” (CUDO) database, and this can be interesting to look at when considering applications and offers. You can select several universities and a specific piece of data, and do some side-by-side comparisons. One of the questions we often get from applicants and parents is about employment prospects after graduation from Engineering. Everyone worries about graduating and not being able to find a job, so let’s look at that specific piece of information for several universities. Continue reading
The 22nd annual Maclean’s magazine rankings of Canadian universities came out a few weeks ago, and is viewable online. It’s based on overall measures for entire universities, not engineering-specific, so I will only comment on a few points that might be of interest. Continue reading
The Canadian news organization “The Globe and Mail” produces a nice website that has lots of information on various Canadian universities, and it was updated recently. I wouldn’t call it a “ranking” like the QS or Times. It’s more of a survey and comparison tool that you can customize in various ways for your own purposes. Continue reading
Next up in the international university rankings, we have the 2012/2013 Times Higher Education (THE) rankings. More specifically, we’ll look at the Engineering & Technology rankings.
I’ve had trouble trying to figure out this methodology. According to their website, the weighting of the different factors is given at the foot of the tables, but I can’t find it! So here’s a summary of the general methodology (used for overall rankings?), although it may be a bit different for the Engineering & Technology subject grouping. Continue reading