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Glossary of Terms

The next few chapters of The Alumni Factor provide an in-depth view of our findings on every measured element that make up our rankings. Throughout the chapters, we refer to a few terms that may be helpful to define here.

All Graduates or Composite of all Graduates: refers to the average rating or percent agreement with a statement of all the alumni in our sample.

Correlation: refers to the observation of two variables that seem to be related to one another and move together (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 in an observable relationship (for example, graduates with post-graduate degrees tend to have lower levels of reported friendships). Correlation does not necessarily imply causation – because two things seem to be related does not necessarily mean that 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 amount which divides the income distribution into two equal groups, half with household income above and half below. Many consider this 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.)

Other ranked Colleges: refers to any school, regardless of type, which does not fall into the Top 50 or 100 on The Alumni Factor respective rankings, but does make our list of 177.

All “Other” Colleges: refers to unnamed colleges for which The Alumni Factor has alumni feedback in numbers too small to be statisically significant. Therefore, they are not included in our rankings.

Percent Agreed: refers to the percentage of graduates who agreed with the statement in question.

Top Box, Top 2 Box Scores: Top Box refers to the percent 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.

Top 50 Liberal arts Colleges: refers to the Top 50 liberal arts colleges on The Alumni Factor Liberal Arts Colleges Ranking.

Top 50 National Universities: refers to the Top 50 national universities on The Alumni Factor National Universities Ranking.

Top 100 Colleges: refers to the Top 100 schools, regardless of type, on The Alumni Factor Overall 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.