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dmmetler

Kid accepted to all 8 Ivy league schools chooses Alabama

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I know I'm gonna get tomatoes thrown for this, but since much discussion occurs on this board about rankings and their validity, I'm just going to point out that the lowest ranked school on this list is #47.

 

I am fully aware that Berkeley, UCSD, Wisconsin, and Michigan are "state schools," but not all state schools are created equally, and these are all ranked among the top for state schools.

Mother of a second Wolverine here...and yes, not all state schools are created equal! :D

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I know I'm gonna get tomatoes thrown for this, but since much discussion occurs on this board about rankings and their validity, I'm just going to point out that the lowest ranked school on this list is #47.

 

I am fully aware that Berkeley, UCSD, Wisconsin, and Michigan are "state schools," but not all state schools are created equally, and these are all ranked among the top for state schools.

 

It's also important to realize that most schools - esp lower ranked schools - do not have Brain & Cognitive Studies (or a version thereof) as majors.  This is a specialty niche major that pretty much only some of the top research places (worldwide) are working with.

 

There ARE smaller schools with it.  We investigated some.  Their departments aren't nearly of the same caliber.

 

If we were looking at a Marine Science summer internship, I can pretty much guarantee youngest's school would be represented any given year, but their "overall" ranking isn't in the Top 100.

 

Know your field when looking at colleges.

 

Know your desires too.  My oldest son had NO desire for research.  He still had no problem getting a job upon graduation even though his college isn't ranked in the Top 100 either.

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It's also important to realize that most schools - esp lower ranked schools - do not have Brain & Cognitive Studies (or a version thereof) as majors.  This is a specialty niche major that pretty much only some of the top research places (worldwide) are working with.

 

There ARE smaller schools with it.  We investigated some.  Their departments aren't nearly of the same caliber.

 

If we were looking at a Marine Science summer internship, I can pretty much guarantee youngest's school would be represented any given year, but their "overall" ranking isn't in the Top 100.

 

Know your field when looking at colleges.

 

Know your desires too.  My oldest son had NO desire for research.  He still had no problem getting a job upon graduation even though his college isn't ranked in the Top 100 either.

I agree so much with this. Middle boy wants to work in Great Lakes Conservation and U of MI is the only top 100 school that has a conservation center, yet no boat on the lakes full time. MTU - ranked about 120 depending on the ranking company - and U of Wisconsin at Milwaukee are two of the best, and Milwaukee has four boats out there full time, a newly renovated and world class Great Lakes research center on the shore, and is the only university in the states with a boat full time, year round on the water. That has made our college search for him very different from that of the other two.

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Know your field when looking at colleges.

 

 

But this goes back to my other post about the problem of changing majors if one chooses a college based on anticipated degree! Ha ha!

 

Not trying to pick on you Creek! ;) I should have quoted your entire post as your point about not all schools offering that area is very valid.

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But this goes back to my other post about the problem of changing majors if one chooses a college based on anticipated degree! Ha ha!

 

Not trying to pick on you Creek! ;) I should have quoted your entire post as your point about not all schools offering that area is very valid.

 

We eliminated TAMUG (Texas AMU - Galveston) and U Hawaii - Manoa for this reason.  I knew if my guy ended up wanting to change majors, neither college would work well for him.  Eckerd is still strong in all the Biological Sciences - something I thought he would change into.  I didn't anticipate Theater/Acting, but I'm ok with it.  Fortunately, they have it and it's "good enough" there for our purposes and what he wants to do later in life.

 

There is a bundle of things to think about when selecting colleges IME.

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For my oldest, he has a dual goal of doing a computer science degree and flying carrier aviation.  Flight has been a dream since he was very small.  With that in mind, his college search centers around schools with Navy ROTC programs and a couple service academies.  That is a list of about 150 schools.  But he can only list 5 schools on the NROTC application.  He may apply to more than that as part of plan C and plan D, which involve attending a school with NROTC and being a midshipman in a non-scholarship status and applying for scholarships that are 3 or 2 year scholarships.  Plan D is for schools without NROTC that have his degree program and might be affordable with hopes of OCS after graduation.

 

 

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I wonder if the Ivies were his choice or whether it was something he was pushed into trying because he was such a stellar candidate on paper? Memphis (and that includes the suburbs) tends to get very little positive press in the media, and the schools have had a hard time, so I can see a guidance counselor pushing him for that, and perhaps overstating the possibilities of financial aid/scholarships, only for reality to strike later.

 

I had some similar pushes when I was in high school as a disabled high-stats candidate-for schools that expressed interest due to test scores, but honestly, weren't good fits for me in my desired major. But they appealed to the guidance office's goal to have a long list of prestigious schools that their students had been accepted to/were attending.  In my case, my parents said "No"-pointing out that there was more than Ivy on the walls and a prestigious name to college.

I read he planned to apply to state colleges in the area (doesn't say exactly which ones), but his counselors & parents encouraged him to apply to more. Personally, I think he made the right choice for the right reasons in deciding what school to attend. I don't feel sorry for him. However, I "regret" all the money (and time) he put into applying to those schools that "everyone" says are more affordable for the middle class just to find out they were not more affordable form him. In the article I read, it mentioned 13 schools where he was accepted, not counting Alabama. It cost more than 700 in application fees to apply to nine of those, whose application fee I found on a chart, So, it probably cost him more than $1000 to apply to all those schools. Plus, he had to pay for CSS profiles and to send scores, etc. It seems like a lot to spend for something that wasn't his dream. (I have no problem with spending X for a child to apply to a school that his/her dream school or the best in their field. However, that wasn't the case here. In a different article, he basically says he doesn't regret it, because it will be neat to put on his tombstone. I hope he has better things to put on his tombstone. However, he will have a great truth for the ice-breaker game, 2 truths and a lie.

 

http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/local-news/germantown-collierville/houston-high-student-accepted-to-all-8-ivy-league-schools_12890740

 

 

 

Two reasons - not necessarily both for the same family/students:

 

1) The actual money offered is not known until after application.  Net price calculators are not always accurate.

 

2) Some just want to know if they could have gotten in.   They'd never know if they didn't try.  They may even be hoping for extra money to show up from somewhere - hoping - but when it doesn't, they go back to their realistic best option.

 

Net price calculators weren't accurate for us. In this family's case, it sounds like sister graduating college was going to make a big difference. Someone mentioned that the Harvard expects families making over 100,000 to contribute 10 percent to the student's expenses. In playing with Harvard's NPC, assuming no assets at all for the family, I see that the family's contribution of 10 percent of income is from the gross wages, not net or take home pay. In using different incomes, it looks like 1 or 2 kids in school makes 1,000 to 3,000 difference in parent contribution until you get an income of 175,000, then going from 2 to 1 kids makes about a 10,000 a year difference. The parental contribution is more than 15 percent of the gross income. It just goes up from there until the calculator says you probably won't get aid around  250,000 for 1 kid and 310,000 for 2 kids. Harvard expects all student to contribute 4,600 a year, which is almost exactly what they estimate personal expenses, books, and travel to cost. 

 

 

Names on diplomas can very easily matter getting that first job or into various grad/prof schools.  This is why I always suggest folks ask where recent grads in _____ major have gone.  College A is not equal to College B.  Around here Penn St or Va Tech grads would easily get bonus points for new hire engineers.  Other schools?  Not so much.  Some schools wouldn't even get a look.  Shift locations and the preferred schools of choice would also change.

 

 

I also feel that the interest in Ivy schools may be regional. My kid had higher scores and similar # ap (when DE at a 4-year school was added) than the student in the article, and she never looked at Ivy schools. (DE hurt her GPA, but met other goals.) The number 1 kid in her class had basically the same everything as the kid in the article, and he did not apply to any Ivy schools. I don't know he played music, but he played sports. He is going to our  top-ranked state school. No. 3 with similar numbers, but 1 B in an AP class, only applied to an in-state flagship. In that class, one student went to a top 20 Ivy, and one went to a top 10 school as a recruited athlete. None from the next year went to an Ivy. One went to a top 10 school and 3 to a top 20 private school that isn't too far away. 

The private middle and high schools annual tuition fees excluding extras are around this range.

A private high school that we pass by recently and I just check the tuition out of curiosity was $36k annual tuition before extra fees.

Another private k-12 school we visited because we were attending an event hosted there had an annual trip to Europe fully paid by participating kids parents. I didn't check the tuition for that school.

 

ETA:

30k annual tuition for 9-12th

I think the private schools around me are cheaper, and the grads tend to go the same places as the public school kids. However, the in-city private schools cost close to what you said. In looking at one's college list from last year, 21 went to in-state flagships and 23 went to Ivy schools, all but represented. Nine are going to an in-state pvt, and one is going to a regional in-state. Another 26 are going OOS state schools; these include higher and lower ranked schools than our state schools. All are national-ranked universities within the top 150; two are going to the same school my daughter attends. There are probably around 30-35 that are going to private schools or liberal arts schools. There is at least 1 going to a regional university. One is going to a military academy. There are probably 5-10 schools I have no clue about, and I didn't look up -- these are mainly included in the pvt schools or liberal arts schools. 

 

One thing that parents are paying for in the private schools around here at least is the amazing college counseling.  One of the schools my son looked at has a college counseling office of 6 full time employees for a class of about 75 kids. Contrast that with my middle ds's public school: 3 full time counselors for a school of about 1400 kids.  And 99% of them are college bound.  Now that I shepherded one home schooled high schooler through the process, and coached another who was in school, I get why people are willing to pay big bucks just to be spared that job.   

 

There isn't a lot of hand-holding by the public school's guidance counselors. You meet once to talk about college. They ask you where you are looking and to make sure you have a safety school. However, we never sought out any advice or guidance, so they may be available if you want/need help. 

 

Even in the world of medicine, my son was told that it does matter where you go to undergrad.  I know that is not consistent with conventional wisdom, but the doctors who told him this are all top in their fields and said the name on their diploma opened doors early in their careers that would not have been opened otherwise and they continue to benefit from the name on their diplomas even today. 

 

A neighbor in the healthcare field was told the opposite by the doctors she works with for her senior, who is interested in medicine. The student, who is a National Merit Scholar with perfect standardized scores, picked a top 100 OOS public school over a top 20 OOS pvt school (which cost a bit less) and another top 30 OOS public school (which cost about $4,000 more.) 

 

Creekland's personal short points to "keep it real" would probably include:

 

 

 

5)  In spite of their high sticker prices, sometimes private schools can be the least costly option.  Some can be worth a try if their NPC looks promising.

 

6)  Many state schools are good options for in state students.  They are worth a look.

 

 

8)  Having a good, solid foundation going in is never a waste.

 

9)  While some kids party too much and study too little, many others, esp mature others, enjoy their time while getting both a terrific education and some wonderful experiences they are unlikely to ever get again in their lives due to work/life needs.

 

 

 

Not disagreeing with you. Simply adding, a reminder that NPC don't work well for all financial situations. Plus, some OOS schools can be good deals also. My neighbor's senior will be paying less at the OOS public than she would at our in-state schools, which are considered inexpensive for good students. The same happened with my daughter. Of the 10 seniors in my neighborhood, 6 are going to OOS flagship universities -- I only know numbers on 2 of these & they did get into our state flagship(s). 3 are going to in-state regional universities. 1 is going to a OOS pvt school ranked in the top 40. I don't know if our neighborhood is just weird this year, but usually most kids from our school stay in-state Last year, 60 percent of the class went to in-state schools with about 20 percent at the big nationally-ranked public schools. I do know the number 3 out of the top 4 students from last year are all going to state schools. Haven't heard about this year. 

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For my oldest, he has a dual goal of doing a computer science degree and flying carrier aviation.  Flight has been a dream since he was very small.  With that in mind, his college search centers around schools with Navy ROTC programs and a couple service academies.  That is a list of about 150 schools.  But he can only list 5 schools on the NROTC application.  He may apply to more than that as part of plan C and plan D, which involve attending a school with NROTC and being a midshipman in a non-scholarship status and applying for scholarships that are 3 or 2 year scholarships.  Plan D is for schools without NROTC that have his degree program and might be affordable with hopes of OCS after graduation.

 

Hokie, hokie, hokie, hi... oh, sorry, I digress, did I actually type that or just think it?   :lol:

 

 

I also feel that the interest in Ivy schools may be regional.  

 

:iagree:   It's rare that we have a student interested in an Ivy other than Cornell even when they have the stats for it (ag and all things plant are big with Cornell).

 

I believe this year's NMF is heading to Messiah.  Last year we had two, one went to Gettysburg and the other to Cornell (for Botany/Environmental studies).  The year before went to Wake Forest (though got accepted to Stanford - money and perks led to choosing Wake over U Miami and Vanderbilt - those all topped Stanford again, due to money and perks).  The year before went to Wheaton (IL).  Before that it had been a while since we had a NMF.  The last I recall went to Albright, but I don't think she stayed there.  I heard rumors.

 

The top ranked school on our college acceptance list this year is probably Carnegie Mellon. I'm not sure any others except Penn St and Pitt are in the Top 100.  Maybe.  I'd have to look more closely.

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I know I'm gonna get tomatoes thrown for this, but since much discussion occurs on this board about rankings and their validity, I'm just going to point out that the lowest ranked school on this list is #47.

 

I am fully aware that Berkeley, UCSD, Wisconsin, and Michigan are "state schools," but not all state schools are created equally, and these are all ranked among the top for state schools.

 

No tomatoes, but I'm wondering what rankings you're using?

 

Every time  look at this kind of thing, I'm struck by the fact that there seem to be about as many "rankings" as there are colleges. So, when you say that a given school is "ranked #47," what does that mean? Who is ranking? What list are you looking at?

 

Edited to add: For example, I hit Google with the phrase "college rankings." The first link that came up was US News & World Report. I plugged my son's not-especially selective (acceptance rate just above 50%), medium-sized LAC--which few people have heard of and which is most often confused with the campus of the state university in the same city -- into the search box, and the results tell me that his school is ranked #24 among regional universities in the south. Similarly, my daughter's even smaller LAC, with an acceptance rate of over 90%, is apparently ranked #49 on the same list.

 

But I feel pretty confident that those aren't the rankings everyone gets so concerned about.

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I'm pretty sure that Cynthia is looking at USNWR.  Most rankings are for grad schools and not UG.

 

I also noticed that most of the schools were highly ranked schools, but that really does not mean anything in terms of such a small sample.  Ds, as a freshman (and most REUs do not accept freshman) was originally waitlisted before he was rejected from an REU which included participating in several weeks of research at CERN in Switzerland.  Considering how many students apply and only 10 were accepted (I think they had 5 or 10 on the waitlist), UA was obviously not a strike against him.  I don't think his being on the waitlist was any reflection on school in general.  I think it really just reflected his personal accomplishments.

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I'm pretty sure that Cynthia is looking at USNWR.  Most rankings are for grad schools and not UG.

 

I also noticed that most of the schools were highly ranked schools, but that really does not mean anything in terms of such a small sample.  Ds, as a freshman (and most REUs do not accept freshman) was originally waitlisted before he was rejected from an REU which included participating in several weeks of research at CERN in Switzerland.  Considering how many students apply and only 10 were accepted (I think they had 5 or 10 on the waitlist), UA was obviously not a strike against him.  I don't think his being on the waitlist was any reflection on school in general.  I think it really just reflected his personal accomplishments.

 

I must have been editing/adding to my post at the same time. 

 

The thing is that even US News & World has multiple lists, so you can pick how narrowly you choose to interpret results.

 

Edited to add: Because I'm stuck at my computer but not actually busy, I decided to play with this a little more.

 

Some of the bigger names in performing arts schools make it clear that freshmen and sophomores aren't likely to get much, if any, time on the mainstage. And even after that, competition for roles is intense, and many students won't be involved in more than one production a semester. My son felt strongly that he wanted a smaller school where he would get personal attention and training and would have plenty of opportunities to perform. He has found that, although he does will with competition, he really thrives by learning in the context of doing a show. So, while a good number of his dance and theatre friends are or will be attending the University of South Florida campus, which is known for its performance departments, he chose the smaller, private University of Tampa, which happens to be in the same city.

 

Out of curiosity, I searched both schools on the USN&WR site. It turns out that USF is tied for #161 on the USN&WR list of national universities. Meanwhile, UTampa is ranked #24 on the USN&WR list of regional universities in the south. Another of the schools he seriously considered is #139 on the list of national liberal arts colleges. So, how do we equate "national" with "regional" rankings? "National" sounds more impressive than "regional," but it doesn't tell the whole story for me. How does a top 25 ranking on a list of regional universities compare to a top top 200 ranking on the same organization's list of national universities? If you have a student whom you feel strongly would not be happy and poised to grow in the environment of a larger campus, which factor trumps the other? What if the higher ranked school -- or the school that has a relatively low rank but makes it onto the national list -- doesn't offer the specific program in which your student is interested? 

 

For the record, my freshman did seven shows on campus this past academic year, got faculty support to start his own dance ensemble and was named the Best Newcomer in Theatre. He has no doubts he made the right choice for himself.

 

It seems to me that the obsession with "ranking" is a pretty narrow way of looking at these questions and is probably significant to only a relatively small number of students in a limited number of fields or careers.

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I'm pretty sure that Cynthia is looking at USNWR. Most rankings are for grad schools and not UG.

 

I also noticed that most of the schools were highly ranked schools, but that really does not mean anything in terms of such a small sample. Ds, as a freshman (and most REUs do not accept freshman) was originally waitlisted before he was rejected from an REU which included participating in several weeks of research at CERN in Switzerland. Considering how many students apply and only 10 were accepted (I think they had 5 or 10 on the waitlist), UA was obviously not a strike against him. I don't think his being on the waitlist was any reflection on school in general. I think it really just reflected his personal accomplishments.

Yes, those were the ones I am talking about, specifically the nationally ranked research unis and nationally ranked LACs. I think there are different criteria for the schools that are regionally ranked. Maybe not as much research??? I am honestly not sure what those criteria are.

 

And, 8, you know I don't disagree with your statement at all. It was merely an observation about the schools represented on the list Creekland gave.

 

My dh went to the U of Arkansas, and he is doing just dandy, and I am thankful for that. Now, he is NOT doing as well financially as Doug McMillon mentioned in the CEO thread, but I have no complaints. ;)

 

ETA: Btw, Doug McMillon already has one ds at the U of A currently and another entering freshman ds there this fall.

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No tomatoes, but I'm wondering what rankings you're using?

 

Every time  look at this kind of thing, I'm struck by the fact that there seem to be about as many "rankings" as there are colleges. So, when you say that a given school is "ranked #47," what does that mean? Who is ranking? What list are you looking at?

 

Edited to add: For example, I hit Google with the phrase "college rankings." The first link that came up was US News & World Report. I plugged my son's not-especially selective (acceptance rate just above 50%), medium-sized LAC--which few people have heard of and which is most often confused with the campus of the state university in the same city -- into the search box, and the results tell me that his school is ranked #24 among regional universities in the south. Similarly, my daughter's even smaller LAC, with an acceptance rate of over 90%, is apparently ranked #49 on the same list.

 

But I feel pretty confident that those aren't the rankings everyone gets so concerned about.

 

Right, people are generally referring to the national universities category unless they say otherwise. There are separate rankings for national universities, national liberal arts colleges, regional universities, and regional colleges (brief description from USN&WR at bottom of message).  Regional schools are ranked in relation to the other schools in their region.  There are obviously lots more schools ranked at the regional level. 

 

 

Yes, those were the ones I am talking about, specifically the nationally ranked research unis and nationally ranked LACs. I think there are different criteria for the schools that are regionally ranked. Maybe not as much research??? I am honestly not sure what those criteria are.

 

 

Below is a brief description from USN&WR. And U of Arkansas is nationally ranked. 

 

Schools in the National Universities category offer a full range of undergraduate majors, plus master's and Ph.D. programs. These colleges also are committed to producing groundbreaking research.

 

Liberal Arts Colleges emphasize undergraduate education and award at least half of their degrees in the liberal arts fields of study.

 

Regional Universities offer a full range of undergraduate programs and some master's programs but few doctoral programs. These rankings are split into four regions:  North, South, Midwest, and West. 

 

Regional colleges focus on undergraduate education but grant fewer than half their degrees in liberal arts disciplines.These rankings are split into four regions: North, South, Midwest, and West. 

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One piece of advice for kids I have heard, to get an idea of the importance of elite schools, just ask some of the adults you know and admire where they went to college.  My dad, for instance, an investigator and agent for the Interstate Commerce Commission safety divison, specializing in train derailments, had only a high school diploma, and was completely self taught in law practice from his reading of "Chitty's Blackstone".   Still he argued his own liability cases in federal court for 35 years against the railroad company lawyers, and reportedly never lost a single case.  (He had turned down an appointment to West Point to join the railroad at age 16.)  My wife, who was chair of her department in the group medical practice she belonged to, graduated from a modest regional college.  (She had been recruited to MIT from high school but declined to apply.)  In terms of income, I would say both my dad and my wife out - earned me and my Harvard degree, (adjusted for inflation in the first case).

 

Edit: comment on the cost of education/books: the online copies of Chitty's Blackstone I found today are $500 for a set resembling my dad's, to $20,000 for a rare fine set.  When I offered mine for sale last year at a retail store I believe I was offered exactly zero, so gave them away to the library.  They then were very probably soon acquired by an antiquarian book seller and offered for sale at going rates.  If so, I wish him the best.  At least he is keeping them available.

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I also noticed that most of the schools were highly ranked schools, but that really does not mean anything in terms of such a small sample.  Ds, as a freshman (and most REUs do not accept freshman) was originally waitlisted before he was rejected from an REU which included participating in several weeks of research at CERN in Switzerland.  Considering how many students apply and only 10 were accepted (I think they had 5 or 10 on the waitlist), UA was obviously not a strike against him.  I don't think his being on the waitlist was any reflection on school in general.  I think it really just reflected his personal accomplishments.

 

FWIW, U Alabama really has no chance of being on the list because they do not offer major not due to any reflection of their ranking.  If we had needed to for affordability, my guy would be at UA and he'd still be doing well (I'm positive).  He'd just have chosen a different major (microbio).  Either major suits pre-med just fine, but since URoc ended up at roughly the same cost (a couple grand less), it has been nice that my guy can have his first choice major.

 

What if the higher ranked school -- or the school that has a relatively low rank but makes it onto the national list -- doesn't offer the specific program in which your student is interested? 

 

...

 

It seems to me that the obsession with "ranking" is a pretty narrow way of looking at these questions and is probably significant to only a relatively small number of students in a limited number of fields or careers.

 

I've yet to see anyone so obsessed with ranking that they pick a school without their desired major when that major is a focus.  My guy, being pre-med, has the luxury of studying anything he wants (more or less).  We used UA as a financial safety in case his other schools (all with Brain study majors of some sort) didn't work out.

 

Otherwise, we went with program depth and schools that fit him (my guys in general) as well as schools that showed financial promise.

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Right, people are generally referring to the national universities category unless they say otherwise. There are separate rankings for national universities, national liberal arts colleges, regional universities, and regional colleges (brief description from USN&WR at bottom of message).  Regional schools are ranked in relation to the other schools in their region.  There are obviously lots more schools ranked at the regional level. 

 

 

 

Below is a brief description from USN&WR. And U of Arkansas is nationally ranked. 

 

Schools in the National Universities category offer a full range of undergraduate majors, plus master's and Ph.D. programs. These colleges also are committed to producing groundbreaking research.

 

Liberal Arts Colleges emphasize undergraduate education and award at least half of their degrees in the liberal arts fields of study.

 

Regional Universities offer a full range of undergraduate programs and some master's programs but few doctoral programs. These rankings are split into four regions:  North, South, Midwest, and West. 

 

Regional colleges focus on undergraduate education but grant fewer than half their degrees in liberal arts disciplines.These rankings are split into four regions: North, South, Midwest, and West. 

 

I understand the methodology. My questions were more focused on the significance.

 

I'm sure that, for STEM folks, that whole "groundbreaking research" thing seems very important. However, neither of my kids pursued/is pursuing a field in which research, groundbreaking or not, is a consideration. Nor is it typical to earn or even consider a doctorate. So, the distinctive things that earn a school a spot on the "national universities" list are not meaningful to my students.

 

Once you toss those criteria out the window, the whole concept of a school being "better" because it appears on the national list becomes much less interesting.

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I understand the methodology. My questions were more focused on the significance.

 

I'm sure that, for STEM folks, that whole "groundbreaking research" thing seems very important. However, neither of my kids pursued/is pursuing a field in which research, groundbreaking or not, is a consideration. Nor is it typical to earn or even consider a doctorate. So, the distinctive things that earn a school a spot on the "national universities" list are not meaningful to my students.

 

Once you toss those criteria out the window, the whole concept of a school being "better" because it appears on the national list becomes much less interesting.

 

Oh, sorry. You asked what rankings were used, what they meant, and whether the regional rankings you looked up were what people were talking about, so that's what I tried to clarify. The significance, to me, would be the ability to quickly find schools that meet whatever criteria one decides is important to them. The rankings make that easy to do. 

 

For various reasons, being a research university does usually translate into stronger programs and stronger students. A student may not care about the research itself but rather the advantages that go hand-in-hand with it. The schools ranked around #50 or so nationally are, generally speaking, not only going to have much higher students stats than a #50 regionally but also higher graduation rates, better faculty to student ratios, more majors, more resources, and so on. 

 

Rankings are a place to get started, a quick-and-dirty source of information on lots and lots of schools. Of course one should move a school up or down on their personal list based on what factors are most important to them; that only makes sense.  If someone refuses to look any further than the bare number, well, there's really no helping them, lol. 

 

It's impossible to look at every single school. We found a few that made it onto our short list by scanning the rankings and going, huh, this college known for sports is actually pretty rigorous, let's take another look. 

 

Performing arts departments should be evaluated quite differently. The strengths of the school at large will not come into play nearly as much, because students may take few or even no academic courses. The majority of students, even those with a major in mind, are going to have more interest in the overall strengths of the school. Most departments are more interrelated and less autonomous than performing arts. 

 

College rankings should not be considered sacred writings, but they can certainly be a useful tool. 

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Oh, sorry. You asked what rankings were used, what they meant, and whether the regional rankings you looked up were what people were talking about, so that's what I tried to clarify. The significance, to me, would be the ability to quickly find schools that meet whatever criteria one decides is important to them. The rankings make that easy to do.

 

For various reasons, being a research university does usually translate into stronger programs and stronger students. A student may not care about the research itself but rather the advantages that go hand-in-hand with it. The schools ranked around #50 or so nationally are, generally speaking, not only going to have much higher students stats than a #50 regionally but also higher graduation rates, better faculty to student ratios, more majors, more resources, and so on.

 

.....

College rankings should not be considered sacred writings, but they can certainly be a useful tool.

Our experience does not bear this out. We live near a regional university which is not ranked. It does not offer graduate level degrees. As a DE student, our ds was actively involved in research. The dean at a university ranked higher than 40 told our ds that his research experience was beyond what their undergrads get to do bc what he was doing was what their grad students do and the undergrads work for grad students.

 

If it weren't for the fact that ds had almost maxed out all of their course offerings in physics, the local university's research opportunities were actually superior to other schools.

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The significance, to me, would be the ability to quickly find schools that meet whatever criteria one decides is important to them. The rankings make that easy to do. 

 

For various reasons, being a research university does usually translate into stronger programs and stronger students. A student may not care about the research itself but rather the advantages that go hand-in-hand with it. The schools ranked around #50 or so nationally are, generally speaking, not only going to have much higher students stats than a #50 regionally but also higher graduation rates, better faculty to student ratios, more majors, more resources, and so on. 

 

But I don't actually think these rankings make anything easier. For example, let's begin with the presumption that you have a student (like mine) whose preference was to attend a college in-state, within a reasonable day's drive of our home in Orlando. We'll ignore for the moment that he also strongly preferred a small school and focus solely on the kinds of data used to general those rankings.

 

As it happens, the city of Tampa, about 90 minutes from our house, has two college campuses, the University of South Florida (ranked #161 on the USN&WR national universities list) and the University of Tampa (ranked #24 among regional universities). Both offer my student's intended major(s), 

 

Out of curiosity, and since it seemed in some ways a more relevant comparison, I checked the USN&WR list of national liberal arts colleges. There appear to be two ranked LACs in Florida. The higher ranked in-state school, the New College of Florida, does not offer my student's desired major(s). Next on the list is Eckerd College, ranked #124. Eckerd offers a general major in theatre, but neither musical theatre nor dance. 

 

Average freshman retention rate according to USN&WR:

 

USF - 89%

UT - 73%

 

Classes with fewer than 20 students:

 

USF

UT - 41.4%

 

Classes with 50 or more students:

 

USF - 14%

UT - 1%

 

Student-faculty ratio:

 

USF - 24:1

UT - 17:1

 

Fall 2013 acceptance rate:

 

USF - 63%

UT - 52.2%

 

Six-year graduation rate:

 

USF - 63%

UT - 60%

 

I had to hop over to the College Board site for the following comparisons.

 

Mid-range SAT scores (CR/M/W):

 

USF - 530-560/540-570/510-540

UT - 490-580/500-580/490-570

 

Mid-range ACT scores (composite):

 

USF - 23-25

UT - 22-27

 

So, my question remains how to weight and evaluate the significance of "national ranking" vs. "regional ranking." One of these two schools makes it onto the apparently more respected national list, but has a lower ranking. The other languishes on the regional list but ranks in the top 25 there. The larger school retains more of its freshman, but the six-year graduation rates are roughly comparable. The test scores of incoming freshman range a bit more widely at the smaller school, but, broadly speaking, cluster at pretty similar points. The smaller school admits a smaller percentage of applicants and blows away the larger school when it comes to average class size and student-faculty ratio. The larger school is well known for its large program in the areas of my student's interest, but the smaller school has recently re-accredited and transitioned its program from a B.A. to a B.F.A. and is in the process of growing enrollment and the department (and, they hope, reputation).

 

Given that situation, how much does, or should, the national/regional distinction matter? Does the large school "win" simply by virtue of qualifying for the national list?

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Are you comparing the University of SOUTH Florida to the University of Tampa in your above post? I got confused - when I see UF I think University of Florida in Gainesville.

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Are you coming the University of SOUTH Florida to the University of Tampa in your above post? I got confused - when I see UF I think University of Florida in Gainesville.

 

I'm sorry. You are correct. I'll fix it.

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Given that situation, how much does, or should, the national/regional distinction matter? Does the large school "win" simply by virtue of qualifying for the national list?

 

With Theater (or any of the Arts) I would think "overall" rankings of any sort are meaningless.

 

Assuming any other major, I wouldn't really think there's any difference between the two schools you're referring to.  I'd be checking to see where grads went.

 

Overall rankings aren't generally based upon grad school stuff.  Other rankings (like Civil Engineering or Bio or whatever) often are.  One needs to look closely at any ranking system since there are different ones out there.

 

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Are you coming the University of SOUTH Florida to the University of Tampa in your above post? I got confused - when I see UF I think University of Florida in Gainesville.

Coming? What in the world? I think that was supposed to have been "comparing." I clearly need to stay off the boards until later in the morning when I have had more coffee. Good grief!

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Overall rankings aren't generally based upon grad school stuff.

 

I edited my post bc I was under the impression that our regional university was not ranked bc it is not a LAC and it does not offer grad level degrees. Do you know why some schools are just not ranked? There are universities with medical schools that are not ranked which I find puzzling.

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I edited my post bc I was under the impression that our regional university was not ranked bc it is not a LAC and it does not offer grad level degrees. Do you know why some schools are just not ranked? There are universities with medical schools that are not ranked which I find puzzling.

 

That's a great question.

 

I found some info on USNWR methodology.  http://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/articles/2014/09/08/how-us-news-calculated-the-2015-best-colleges-rankings

 

National Universities offer a full range of undergraduate majors, plus master's and doctoral programs, and emphasize faculty research. National Liberal Arts Colleges focus almost exclusively on undergraduate education. They award at least 50 percent of their degrees in the arts and sciences. 

Regional Universities offer a broad scope of undergraduate degrees and some master's degree programs but few, if any, doctoral programs. Regional Colleges focus on undergraduate education but grant fewer than 50 percent of their degrees in liberal arts disciplines; this category also includes schools that have small bachelor's degree programs but primarily grant two-year associate degrees. 

Regional Universities and Regional Colleges are further divided and ranked in four geographical groups: North, South, Midwest and West. 

On the second page: Unranked schools

Unranked Schools

Schools are Unranked and listed separately by category if they have indicated that they don't use SAT or ACT test scores in admissions decisions for first-time, first-year, degree-seeking applicants. And, in a few cases, schools are Unranked if too few respondents to the spring and summer 2014 peer assessment survey gave them a rating.

Other reasons institutions are not ranked include: a total enrollment of fewer than 200 students, a large proportion of nontraditional students and no first-year students – as is the situation at so-called upper-division schools. 

As a result of these eligibility standards, many of the for-profit institutions have been grouped with the Unranked schools; their bachelor's degree candidates are largely nontraditional students in degree completion programs, for example, or they don't use SAT or ACT test scores in admissions decisions.

 

In total, 148 colleges in the National Universities, National Liberal Arts Colleges, Regional Universities and Regional Colleges categories are listed as Unranked.

We also did not rank 83 highly specialized schools in arts, business and engineering. 

Honestly, every time I read through the USNWR methodology I am reminded that it relies heavily on reputation and doesn't really present a nuanced rating of the relative value of schools.  I almost think you should just round to the nearest 50 when looking at the rankings.  Not to mention the fact that it has to represent highly variable experiences across departments and degree programs.  As Jenny has mentioned with regard to performance degrees, the overall ranking may not describe the opportunities within a specific program.  Or if you look at the brain cognition program that Creekland's son is in; it probably does not matter to a student interested in pre-med for brain science what the selectivity of the English department is.  

I've found that the  broad brush information available is especially frustrating when looking at larger universities that have wide offerings.  Just as an example, in the most recent national rankings, Princeton is #1 and Carnegie Mellon is #25 on the national list.  But for my computer science oriented kid, I would hardly feel that he'd somehow gotten second best if he went to Carnegie Mellon.  (For that matter, I won't feel that he's gotten a poor option if he heads to Purdue or Virgina Tech or Michigan Tech.)   For my politics, foreign language, history and international affairs loving son the calculations may well be flipped around.  Would he somehow be better served at MIT than at Georgetown, just because MIT has a higher rank?

For that matter, service academies end up in a weird cul-de-sac of rankings because they don't offer doctorate degrees.  In fact they don't offer masters' degrees on campus.  On the other hand that means that all of the wave tanks, tow tanks, reactors, materials labs and attention of the professors is focused on the undergraduate students.  And while USNWR ranks them with liberal arts colleges, the Naval Academy emphasizes science math and engineering to the extreme.  In fact even the English majors take a significant core of science engineering and math; so much so that they earn Bachelor of Science degrees.   (Oh, as an aside the very high rankings that service academies get on the alumni pay rankings are very meaningless; they are based on information from a site that aggregates pay information that is voluntarily submitted and intentionally does not include military salaries in its calculations.  So the pay stats for academy alum are based on the very small number of grads who are not serving in the military at those data collection dates.)  

[And I don't even want to get started on how much of the rankings are based on reputation.  How much of a spike does a school get for having a prominent sports team, simply because high school counselors would then have recognized the name of the school?  Do high school counselors or even college administrators in California really have a meaningful sense of the relative value of the education offered at Miami University vs William and Mary?  Do they even know where Miami University is?  Do counselors or college administrators in Connecticut have meaningful impressions of Pepperdine vs Pomona?  I really think that a rankings list offers just the basest of comparisons.  Heck, I have trouble getting counselors at our community college to give us useful information on specific instructors in their own campus or the difference between two branches within the same CC system. ]

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But I don't actually think these rankings make anything easier. 

 

<big snip>

 

Does the large school "win" simply by virtue of qualifying for the national list?

 

No, the larger doesn't automatically 'win,' you have to do exactly what you did in your example: dig deeper and compare.  

 

Rankings are no more than a starting point, much like recommendations from friends and family. Both rankings and recommendations can make you take a second look at a school you wasn't on your radar, but the work of a deep comparison is always going to be there. 

 

As far as making the deeper research easier, the free rankings are best for making you aware of relatively unknown but high performing schools. For full research, free is not going to be nearly as helpful as paying for the full rankings ($25 to $30). This was worth it to me, because it makes it very easy to compare lots of schools quickly, without having to go to various sites for various information - it's all in one place, easy to find and easy to read. 

 

You can also look at all of the ranking indicators for a certain school, and give them more or less weight according to what's important to you. I might give less weight to peer and counselor assessments, more weight to graduation rates and faculty resources. 

 

It would take an insane amount of time for us to look up every school within a day's drive of us. The full rankings made it easy for us to make a shorter list of schools that met our criteria (stuff like graduation rate and ACT range; there are a surprising number of regionally ranked schools with pretty low ACT ranges). This is all laid out on a list to scan quickly, so it saves a lot of time versus looking up every school. 

 

College rankings can certainly be misused, but they can also be a helpful tool. About 80% of college students change their major at least once, and my dd is pretty undecided to begin with. For us, it was extremely helpful to quickly make a list of schools that are likely to have well-prepared, engaged students while still allowing for the possibility of merit aid. 

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I edited my post bc I was under the impression that our regional university was not ranked bc it is not a LAC and it does not offer grad level degrees. Do you know why some schools are just not ranked? There are universities with medical schools that are not ranked which I find puzzling.

I don't know why some of them have no ranking but as a matter of public fact here, incredibly crappy sate U down the road actually requested their ranking not be published because the report and statistics were scathingly bad! A coupke of years ago when I worked as a guidance counselor at a private school, the report by a local journalist was forwarded to me. Scary, scary, scary bad. I woukd not eend my dog there much less my child. The reputation is deserved and unfortunately, Michigan employers know it so they have a high unemployment rate amongst their graduates.

 

I won't name them here due to libel issuses as they are very litigious and snarky, but if I ever saw someone post here that they were considrring that school for thejr student, I would be PM'ing immediately!

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I don't know why some of them have no ranking but as a matter of public fact here, incredibly crappy sate U down the road actually requested their ranking not be published because the report and statistics were scathingly bad! A coupke of years ago when I worked as a guidance counselor at a private school, the report by a local journalist was forwarded to me. Scary, scary, scary bad. I woukd not eend my dog there much less my child. The reputation is deserved and unfortunately, Michigan employers know it so they have a high unemployment rate amongst their graduates.

 

I won't name them here due to libel issuses as they are very litigious and snarky, but if I ever saw someone post here that they were considrring that school for thejr student, I would be PM'ing immediately!

I don't think this is the case with this school. They have ABET accredited engineering programs. Ds thought that his classes were better than the nationally ranked university where he DE-ed in VA. one of its program, depending on which program ranking you look at, is ranked in the top 50 nationally (I checked out 3 different websites and ignored USNWR and it consistently was rated in the top 50. Considering there are over 800 4 yr accredited programs In this field in the US, the university just cannot be that bad.)

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I don't think this is the case with this school. They have ABET accredited engineering programs. Ds thought that his classes were better than the nationally ranked university where he DE-ed in VA. one of its program, depending on which program ranking you look at, is ranked in the top 50 nationally (I checked out 3 different websites and ignored USNWR and it consistently was rated in the top 50. Considering there are over 800 4 yr accredited programs In this field in the US, the university just cannot be that bad.)

I was only speaking to this one school who specifically requests that their ranking go unpublished.

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I just saw this and wanted to share. At the NASA robotics mining competition, UA won 1st (and did a couple of yrs ago as well. I think they placed 2nd or 3rd last yr.). The competition includes schools like Case, Mines, Purdue, and UIUC (which all placed in various categories.)

 

https://www.facebook.com/RoboticMiningCompetition/posts/10153318178359183?fref=nf

 

I am continually impressed with UA. Roll Tide!!

 

ETA: here is a list of the universities involved in the competition:

 

Participants

2015 Competitors

 

Auburn University

Case Western Reserve University

College of DuPage

Colorado School of Mines

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Florida Institute of Technology

Florida International University

Inter American University of Puerto Rico

Iowa State University

John Brown University

Kent State University

Merrimack College

Milwaukee School of Engineering

Mississippi State University

Missouri University of Science and Technology

Montana State University

Montana Tech

NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering

Oakton Community College

Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico

Purdue University

South Dakota School of Mines & Technology

Temple University

Texas A&M University Corpus Christi

Texas A&M International University

The University of Akron

The University of Alabama

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte

University of Alaska-Fairbanks

University of Arkansas

University of Central Florida

University of Florida

University of Hawaii-Hilo

University of Illinois at Chicago

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

University of Iowa

University of Miami

University of Michigan

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

University of New Hampshire

University of North Dakota

University of Portland

University of Utah

University of Vermont

University of Virginia

Virginia State University

Virginia Tech

Washington University in St. Louis

Wright State University

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