Individual School Profile FAQ

I am confused by the terms in the school profile.  What do they mean?

Here is our full overview of how to read the college reports.

What is the difference between “ranking” and “rating?”

“Ranking” tells you how good a school is on an individual factor compared to all other schools.  You will see a ranking expressed as a number (e.g., 3rd or 57th).  “Rating” tells you how good a school is on an individual factor in absolute terms.  You will often see our ratings expressed in percentages (e.g., the percentage of alumni who donate annually to the school or the percentage of alumni who strongly agree their school prepared them well for career success.)

The Alumni Factor provides an in-depth view of our findings on every measured element used to formulate our rankings. We refer to a few terms that may be helpful to define here.

All Graduates: refers to all the alumni in our study.

Correlation: refers to the observation of two variables that seem to be related to one another and move in the same direction (for example, the observation that people who attain a college degree also tend to have higher incomes). Things can be inversely correlated, or move in opposite directions (for example, graduates with post-graduate degrees tend to report lower levels of friendships). Correlation does not necessarily imply causation. Because two things seem to be related does not necessarily mean one causes the other or vice versa.

Mean: refers to the arithmetic mean or simple average of any data set in question. Mathematically, it is the sum of a set of values, divided by the number of values.

Median: refers to the numerical value in a set of numbers that separates the upper half of the set from the lower half of the set.

Median Household Income: refers to the income level that divides the distribution into two equal groups, half with household income above, and half below. Many consider median household income to be a better indicator of average household income, as it will be less dramatically skewed by extremely high or low outliers.

Net Worth: refers to a household's total assets (cash, property, equity, etc.) minus its liabilities or debts (credit card debt, unpaid portion of mortgages, etc.)

Top Box, Top 2 Box Scores: Top Box refers to the percentage of alumni who responded Strongly Agree, which is the highest rating (or "box") on our survey scale. Top 2 Box refers to the combination of alumni responses Strongly Agree and Agree.

Type and Size of Institution: We generally follow the Carnegie Foundation categories. We have three types:  National Universities, Liberal Arts Colleges and Regional Universities. Our size designations are: Small - less than 4,000 undergraduates, Medium - 4,001 to 10,000 undergraduates, Large -10,001 to 20,000 undergraduates, and Very Large - over 20,000 undergraduates.

Unranked Colleges: refers to unnamed colleges for which The Alumni Factor has alumni feedback in numbers too small to be statistically reliable for the purpose of ranking.

Weighted Average: refers to an average in which the quantities to be averaged are assigned a weight to reflect their relative importance or to force a desired distribution of types of respondents.