Here’s The Business Journals’ New Top 100 Public Colleges–and our Analysis

Here’s another college ranking–The Business Journals Public College Rankings 2015.  The rankings are interesting for a number of reasons, but they are also on the quirky side, given that 45% of the weight comes from campus and area demographic data, including racial and gender diversity, employment rates, rental costs, the percentage of college grads and share of young adults in the community, and Kiplinger-like assessments of cost vs. value.  About 55% of the weight comes from more traditional ranking topics: selectivity, grad and retention rates, and academic prestige.

Think of the TBJ rankings as Kiplinger meets Washington Monthly, via U.S. News and Forbes.

As we have noted elsewhere, ordinal rankings assign places based on minute differences in final calculations, and the actual differences between the top 3 in the TBJ rankings is 1.12 points out of 100.  Yet like most rankings and ratings, they are interesting and have some value, especially for those who want to a synthesis of the four main rankings.  The TBJ rankings based academic prestige on such a synthesis.

At the top of the list are few surprises, except that the usual rank order of the top 5 has shifted; Michigan is number 1, North Carolina, 2, followed by UVA, 3, William & Mary, 4, and UC Berkeley, 5.

 Below is a list of the 19 ranking categories, followed by a list of the top 100 public colleges, according to TBJ:

1. Admission rate (selectivity, 5 percent): The percentage of first-time undergraduate applicants who were admitted to the school.

2. Admission test score at the 25th percentile (5 percent).

3. Admission test score at the 75th percentile (5 percent).

4. Retention rate (10 percent).

5. Four-year graduation rate (10 percent).

6. Six-year graduation rate (5 percent).

7. Rankings by Forbes, Kiplinger’s, U.S. News and World Report, and Washington Monthly (prestige, 15 percent). The school’s performances in the latest rankings by these four publications, converted to a 400-point scale

8. Quality-affordability ratio (10 percent). The published in-state tuition, fees, room and board charges for 2013-14, divided by the sum of the school’s raw scores for selectivity, advancement and prestige.

9. Average net price for full-time undergraduates receiving grants or scholarships (5 percent).

10. Median monthly off-campus rent (5 percent): The median rent for all rental properties within the metropolitan area in which the school is located.

11. Share of undergraduates with out-of-state addresses (5 percent).

12. Racial diversity of student body (2.5 percent).

13. Racial diversity of faculty (2.5 percent). The Gini-Simpson index for the instructional staff, a measure that indicates the likelihood that two randomly selected instructors would be of different races.

14. Gender diversity of student body (2.5 percent).

15. Gender diversity of faculty (2.5 percent): The difference between the percentage of female instructional staffers and the female share of all 25- to 64-year-olds (50.59 percent).

16. Share of young adults (2.5 percent).

17. Unemployment rate for young adults (2.5 percent).

18. Share of young adults with bachelor’s degrees (2.5 percent).

19. Share of local jobs that are classified as management, business, science or arts jobs (2.5 percent).

The top 100 rankings…

• 1. University of Michigan (Michigan)

• 2. University of North Carolina (North Carolina)

• 3. University of Virginia (Virginia)

• 4. College of William and Mary (Virginia)

• 5. University of California-Berkeley (California)

• 6. University of California-Los Angeles (California)

• 7. University of Florida (Florida)

• 8. University of Maryland (Maryland)

• 9. University of Washington (Washington)

• 10. University of Wisconsin (Wisconsin)

• 11. University of Illinois (Illinois)

• 12. University of Texas (Texas)

• 13. Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia)

• 14. University of California-San Diego (California)

• 15. Ohio State University (Ohio)

• 16. University of Georgia (Georgia)

• 17. University of Minnesota (Minnesota)

• 18. Binghamton University (New York)

• 19. University of Connecticut (Connecticut)

• 20. Texas A&M University (Texas)

• 21. University of California-Santa Barbara (California)

• 22. Indiana University (Indiana)

• 23. North Carolina State University (North Carolina)

• 24. Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Virginia)

• 25. University of California-Irvine (California)

• 26. Pennsylvania State University (Pennsylvania)

• 27. University of Delaware (Delaware)

• 28. Purdue University (Indiana)

• 29. University of Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania)

• 30. Rutgers University (New Jersey)

• 31. Florida State University (Florida)

• 32. Stony Brook University (New York)

• 33. Clemson University (South Carolina)

• 34. University of California-Davis (California)

• 35. SUNY Geneseo (New York)

• 36. College of New Jersey (New Jersey)

• 37. Michigan State University (Michigan)

• 38. University of Iowa (Iowa)

• 39. James Madison University (Virginia)

• 40. Truman State University (Missouri)

• 41. Miami University (Ohio) (Ohio)

• 42. University of Vermont (Vermont)

• 43. University of South Carolina (South Carolina)

• 44. Iowa State University (Iowa)

• 45. University of Missouri (Missouri)

• 46. University of Texas at Dallas (Texas)

• 47. University at Buffalo (New York)

• 48. University of Massachusetts (Massachusetts)

• 49. University of North Carolina at Wilmington (North Carolina)

• 50. New College of Florida (Florida)

• 51. Baruch College (New York)

• 52. Auburn University (Alabama)

• 53. Colorado School of Mines (Colorado)

• 54. University of Utah (Utah)

• 55. University of Colorado (Colorado)

• 56. California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo (California)

• 57. University of Oklahoma (Oklahoma)

• 58. University of Alabama (Alabama)

• 59. University of Arkansas (Arkansas)

• 60. San Diego State University (California)

• 61. University of California-Santa Cruz (California)

• 62. George Mason University (Virginia)

• 63. University of South Florida (Florida)

• 64. University at Albany (New York)

• 65. SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (New York)

• 66. Appalachian State University (North Carolina)

• 67. University of Mary Washington (Virginia)

• 68. University of New Hampshire (New Hampshire)

• 69. St. Mary’s College of Maryland (Maryland)

• 70. Arizona State University (Arizona)

• 71. Louisiana State University (Louisiana)

• 72. SUNY New Paltz (New York)

• 73. University of Nebraska (Nebraska)

• 74. University of Kansas (Kansas)

• 75. Hunter College (New York)

• 76. University of Oregon (Oregon)

• 77. University of Mississippi (Mississippi)

• 78. University of Maryland Baltimore County (Maryland)

• 79. University of Arizona (Arizona)

• 80. College of Charleston (South Carolina)

• 81. Colorado State University (Colorado)

• 82. University of Minnesota-Morris (Minnesota)

• 83. University of Central Florida (Florida)

• 84. University of Tennessee (Tennessee)

• 85. University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (Wisconsin)

• 86. Ramapo College of New Jersey (New Jersey)

• 87. Virginia Military Institute (Virginia)

• 88. University of California-Riverside (California)

• 89. Citadel Military College of South Carolina (South Carolina)

• 90. Oklahoma State University (Oklahoma)

• 91. University of North Carolina at Asheville (North Carolina)

• 92. Queens College (New York)

• 93. Oregon State University (Oregon)

• 94. Mississippi State University (Mississippi)

• 95. SUNY Oneonta (New York)

• 96. City College of New York (New York)

• 97. Purchase College (New York)

• 98. University of Wyoming (Wyoming)

• 99. Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri)

• 100. Towson University (Maryland)

Note to Parents: Changes in Major, Uncertainty about Careers Are Common

In this age of anxiety about finding a good job after college, many parents are understandably concerned if their sons and daughters haven’t settled on a major in their first year of study, or if they have changed their major from a lucrative field such as engineering to, say, a social science field.

The Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) at UCLA is renowned for its insightful reports on the characteristics and attitudes of college students, especially during the freshman and senior years.  The latest HERI survey report on Your First College Year has revealing data about the career focus (or lack thereof) and the frequency with which majors are changed during the extremely important first year.  The survey is based on responses of more than 10,000 students at 47 colleges and universities.

Here’s a quick summary:

  • 90% of first-year students found that college had “frequently” or “occasionally” inspired them to think in new ways;
  • partly as a result, 34% changed their majors;
  • 32% changed their career choices;
  • 59% thought it was important to be focused on their career path after college;
  • but only 25% had a clear idea of how to achieve career goals.

Even though many first-year students were not clear about majors and careers, their ability to sort all of this out, along with other problems they will encounter, grew dramatically during that critical year:

  • 31% of students reported at the beginning of the year that they were only “average” at critical thinking skills, but of these, 43% reported their skills as “somewhat of a strength” at year’s end;
  • and of the 27% of students who felt at the beginning of the year that they were only average in problem-solving skills, 43% thought their problem-solving skills were somewhat of a strength at the end of the year.

So parents, if your son or daughter doesn’t have it all figured out after that first year, take heart.  The very complexity that they are dealing with is teaching them at the same time how to figure things out, including their eventual majors and career paths.