What is the best way for students and parents to use The Alumni Factor rankings?
We would recommend using the rankings themselves first, to stimulate a discussion about what you want to get out of your college experience. Does it matter to you that you develop deep and lasting friendships? Or are you more focused on your future career? There is no wrong answer. You can be interested in one or in many potential outcomes. What is important is that you consider the question, alongside other constraints or goals you may have (for example, to stay near your home or to attend a school with a nuclear physics program) and orient your search around those objectives.
Second, you can use the rankings to identify schools that may not have been on your radar screen, but offer up the kind of educational outcomes you seek. The beauty of The Alumni Factor ranking system is that you can see which schools excel at certain things, looking beyond pure reputation to see which can really deliver on your dreams. You can play around with the custom search tool to find out which schools pop up as good fits if you release a constraint or two, or change your mind about your goals. Options are good, and the rankings can help you surface more than you may have realized you have.
Third, as you narrow your search, you can use The Alumni Factor rankings and profiles to dig deeper into the schools you have prioritized and help you decide where to investigate further, or even where to apply, based on which better meets your needs and goals. You can focus your research – whether it is an informational interview with an alum, or a campus tour – on figuring out just what it is that the college or university does to create the outcomes in which you are interested. And you can do the same thing after you have been accepted – again, returning to the profiles and rankings to get that fact-based view of which will best help you realize your goals, once you are out in the real world.
Overall, you should consider the rankings and profiles as a helpful source – but not the only source – of fact-based input as you make your decision. You shouldn’t focus on a single number but on what the numbers tell you about the fit of the school with your aspirations.
How can I find the ranking for a particular school?
To find the ranking for a particular school, go to the search bar and type that school’s name. It will pull up that school’s profile, enabling you to see its Overall Rankings and its ranking on individual factors such as Net Worth, if it is one of our ranked schools.
If a school goes up or down in the rankings, does that mean it is better or worse than last year?
Movement up or down could mean one of two things for an individual school. It could mean that the comparisons have gotten tougher (or easier) – either because other schools have kept moving, or because new schools that happen to produce better graduate outcomes have entered into the mix. This would mean that even though the school itself did not change, it has gotten relatively better or worse than the other schools in the ranking. Alternatively, a change in ranking could mean that something material has changed at the school in question, meaning it has gotten better or worse in an absolute sense.
How do I find out what caused a school’s ranking to change?
The best way is to first examine the individual factors that make up the ranking to see where the biggest changes occurred. Then, talking to current students or school officials about changes they have experienced can help you get to the root cause.
How do I find out why a school is so much better at a certain outcome, like Immediate Job Opportunities?
You can always explore the school's website, ask while on campus tours or ask during informational interviews, as well.
How can I compare multiple schools in which I am interested?
At any point in the advanced search, you can click the compare box on the left side of the list; once you've selected all the schools you wish to compare, just click "Compare Schools."
Can I compare across school types (e.g., compare a National or Regional University to a Liberal Arts College)?
Yes. You will be able to compare every ranked school.