25 best universities according to graduates

For millions of potential students, college rankings have become the main factor taken into account when choosing a place of study. However, the ratings of universities have always been radically different from all other consumer charts, because they never took into account the opinion of real consumers of the product or service – graduates. Have you ever wondered what a list of top institutions would look like if it were compiled from reviews from former students? Thanks to a recent study, based on the largest survey of college graduates in the United States, we were able to imagine in general terms what it would be. Yes, in it, of course, there are several familiar names, but not without surprises.

The study, published in the Journal of Consumer Affairs under the title “Assessing the Accuracy of Rankings in Higher Education,” analyzes data collected during a survey of consumers of educational services – a large-scale study of the opinions of graduates. The data taken into account were obtained from 146345 graduates of 2989 colleges and universities, while 496 institutions were represented by a sufficient number of respondents to compile an objective rating. The basis was the answers to a series of questions, among which were requests to indicate the degree of their agreement with certain statements. For example:

  • you have received a quality education;
  • you would advise other people to undergo the same training;
  • without receiving this diploma, you would never find yourself in your current place;
  • during college classes, you developed serious skills that you now use in everyday life;
  • the coursework you have completed is directly related to your current professional activities;
  • education has turned you into an attractive candidate for employers;
  • your education was worth the money;
  • if you could start all over again, you would choose the same establishment.

In ratings from the Wall Street Journal or times Higher Education, for example, the level of student satisfaction weighs approximately 17% of the overall score. And US News & World Report estimates the contribution of former listeners at 3% significance. And at the same time, the real assessments of graduates are not taken into account in any way. It’s hard to believe that in the almost 40 years of the existence of university rankings (US News first ranked colleges in 1983), the reviews of direct consumers have not turned into one of the criteria.

Today, studying at the university is one of the most serious financial investments. And so the question arises, why has the consumer rating not yet become a significant benchmark when choosing a college? Here’s the first preliminary list.

25 leading colleges and universities according to alumni:

  1. Princeton University
  2. Yale University
  3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  4. University of Maryland – Baltimore
  5. Duke University
  6. University of Virginia
  7. United States Military Academy
  8. Cornell University
  9. Harvard University
  10. Northwestern Business College (now Northwestern College)
  11. University of La Verne
  12. Colorado School of Mines
  13. Wheaton College (IL)
  14. Vanderbilt University
  15. Johns Hopkins University
  16. Emory University
  17. Stanford University
  18. Rice University
  19. Tufts University
  20. Lesley University
  21. Texas A&M University – Kingsville
  22. Azusa Pacific University
  23. University of Chicago
  24. University of California – Berkeley
  25. University of Southern California

At the top of the rating were familiar names. But there are a lot of surprises on the list, for example, several establishments that most have never even heard of. When the opinion of graduates turned into the only criterion, a variety of provincial campuses, a Christian college, a military academy and even a commercial university could get into the top 25. Noteworthy is more than 6 times the difference between the cost of education in the most affordable (Texas A & M-Kingsville, $ 9136 for local students) and in the most expensive (University of Chicago, $ 60,522) universities. This point serves as an excellent illustration to debunk the myth that the cost of higher education is commensurate with its quality: when it comes to the opinions of graduates, there is no direct relationship between price and quality.

Evaluations of former students confirmed the status of some of the leading universities and, in addition, added several new, completely different, outstanding institutions to the list. There is no doubt: expanding the sample size to include more universities in the ranking would change the picture even more – there would be other pearls. This methodology relies on one of the most reliable criteria taken into account by buyers before choosing (feedback from current consumers). It is sure to find wide acceptance and will be adopted as an additional reference point by students trying to find the “best” college or university.

Colleges and universities are simply obliged to pay attention to such assessments – and not only for the sake of increasing their prestige and potential profits, but also for the sake of constant self-improvement. Alumni opinions can make other major changes to the higher education landscape, such as helping us move from an obsession with rankings to implementing a system of real grades. Are there any fundamental differences between universities that occupy, for example, the 1st and 34th lines of the ranking (any)? Alumni testimonials actually lead to the use of such a scheme, helping us to abstract from some of the “noise” and contradictions created by tortured ratings.

The main thing is that respondents consider the opinions of former students to be one of the main indicators of the quality of higher education. A survey of 2200 U.S. adults showed that when it comes to the preferred standard for assessing the quality of universities, the majority of respondents choose “opinions of students and graduates” (47%), rather than “employer ratings” (25%) or “feedback from colleagues” (28%). Peer feedback is currently the primary method for determining qualifications; the fact that respondents are almost twice as likely to prefer the grades of students and graduates, rather than the reviews of colleagues, gives us a real incentive to act. Undoubtedly, such efforts will contribute to increasing the number of students of the most worthy universities.


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