Comparisons to Other Ranking Systems FAQ

How does The Alumni Factor ranking differ from the USN&WR ranking?

  1. We measure outcomes, not inputs or reputation. In particular we do not give schools any “credit” for being wealthy, as measured by size of the endowment, professor salaries, and so on.
  2. We base our rankings primarily on proprietary survey data from alumni vs. public data or reputational factors such as peer ratings.
  3. Any survey data we use is based on a sample size sufficient to be validated as statistically reliable.
  4. Our ranking formula does not assign random weightings to the factors upon which we measure and rank schools.

How does The Alumni Factor rankings differ from the rankings done by Fiske or Princeton Review?

The Fiske guidebooks do not actually rank schools but instead provide a subjective rating of schools on a number of different factors. Their ratings are informed by conversations with numerous stakeholders in the education system, including current students, but ultimately come down to the perspective of the authors.

The Princeton Review provides two different kinds of lists, both of which are more about inputs or experiential factors than outputs. The college ratings are numerical scores that appear in the school profiles in The Best 376 Colleges and on The Princeton Review site. These scores are on a scale of 60-99. They are tallied using school-reported data and/or data from a survey of students attending the schools. Among the eight rating categories are: Admissions Selectivity, Financial Aid, Fire Safety and a Green rating. The schools rated this way are not ranked, per se, but simply grouped together among the top 376.

The college rankings are lists of "top 20" colleges that The Princeton Review compiles in 62 categories and publishes in The Best 376 Colleges and on its website. Based solely on data from The Princeton Review's survey of current students attending the 376 schools in the book, the ranking list topics cover eight general areas: Academics/Administration, Quality of Life, Politics, Demographics, Social Life, Extracurriculars, Parties, and Schools by Type. In contrast, The Alumni Factor focuses on graduates’ life outcomes – not the immediate campus life of current students. We do not subjectively rate any aspect of a school’s performance; instead, we let the unadulterated feedback from alumni themselves do the talking.