UPDATE-This is the review of Forbes 2008 America’s Best Colleges. Here is the link to the America’s Best Colleges 2009 .
Forbes magazine has come out with a new college ranking system in an apparent attempt to compete with US News. The system used by Forbes is in my opinion the most ridiculous system yet devised. I would be more impressed if they just wandered down the street asking people for their opinion on the best colleges.
Here is what the system is based on: 25% of the ranking is based on evaluations from RateMyProfessor, a website that purports to allow students to rate their professors. Of course the website has virtually no control over who posts so anyone, whether a student or not, can go in and post on a particular professor. Even the professor in question can post if they would wish. If you want to post about a professor multiple times, go ahead, we won’t stop you.
The second criteria, also accounting for 25% of the rating, is how many of the college’s alumni, adjusted for enrollment, are listed in Who’s Who in America. For those of you who are not familiar with this list of supposedly impressive people, here is a review on why Who’s Who is totally aburd. You should note that the article, showing how lame Who’s Who is, was published by none other than Forbes magazine.
The final 50% of the ranking is based equally on three factors including the average amount of student debt, the percentage of students graduating in four years, and number of students and faculty, adjusted for enrollment, who have won nationally competitive awards like Rhodes Scholarships.
The last three criteria, particularly the first two, actually make some sense in ranking a college. A student should know, and compare, the average amount of student debt and the four year graduation rate. But to consider these factors in the rating system as less important than ratemyprofessor and Who’s Who demeans even those positive aspects of this system.
Although I am not a big fan of the various ranking systems, at least some of the better known systems attempt to use valid numbers. Forbes has taken a few important issues and combined them with the least reliable numbers they could find. All to make money off the anxiety of students and families attempting to find the best college. Forbes should be ashamed and everyone should boycott this issue of their magazine. Moreover, if they are willing to use such sloppy numbers here, I have to question everything Forbes publishes.