Best place to find college rankings?

#1
OK, my brilliant daughter is a Jr. in HS and already knows what she wants to do in life. Amazing, since I hadn't figured out what I wanted to do yet. She wants to study Chemistry, (and expects to get at least a masters), her goal is research. I see rankings all over the place. Yes, her favorite, MIT, is 1-4 in every ranking, but getting in there is quite difficult, as I am sure you all know. Only a 7% acceptance rate, and nearly all the kids applying are brilliant. And Stanford does not qualify as a safety school. Besides being a research chemist, her other goal is to get out of the state of Illinois. A pity, since it appears that 3 of the best chemistry schools in the country are here (UI, UC, NW), additionally, one is more affordable than anything else she is looking at (I-L-L....).


Getting back to the point, any suggestions of what is considered the best ranking service? Many of the lists seem quite subjective.
 
#2
Ordained Dudeist Priest
Johns Creek, GA
USNews and World Report does rankings that people use when comparing universities, but they also take a fair bit of criticism because their criteria is not perceived as balanced.

The Princeton Review (same place your daughter may do test prep through) also does rankings that I believe are geared more toward admission and graduation rates.

Having sent 2 kids to college (small data set, I know) the best advice I'd give you is look at a breadth of information. Try to understand what the criteria mean and if that is important to you/her, and then use their data points to do your own statistical evaluations based on your key factors.

If nationally-known faculty is important to you, focus on those things. If research options are important, make sure you evaluate that. Campus life, distance, and other more subjective evaluations are things you may have to measure in after you've visited some campuses and have a better understanding of how everything fits together.

Another incredibly important tool is talking to people who are/were in the same program and get their opinions.
 
#4
I never expected to send my kids to small or medium sized colleges, but I did. Although neither are in the sciences, I was fairly impressed with some of the opportunities at small schools on our college tours. Research, one on one with professors, hands on projects v just lecture seemeda little more prevalent than I expected.

In case she wants a small school of course . . .
 
#5
My oldest is a senior in high school, so I understand where you are at. I agree with Ransom, throw out the rankings and come up with your own. The question is, how do you limit the schools? My son's school has a portal to some website where you can pick various criteria and it will come up with various schools that match your criteria. It could also show the data points if any kids from his high school went there as far as grades/ACT scores so you can get an idea of the probability of getting accepted. (My wife did it with him, so I don't know all the specifics, but saw it demonstrated at a talk at the HS.) Your high school might have something similar.

I also agree with Jim. I went to a highly ranked engineering college, but now that I've gone on some campus tours, I wish I had at least looked at a smaller school. Lots to love about the UofI, and cost was a factor, but I think I would have enjoyed the academics better at a smaller school. (No offense to my ESL TAs.)
 
#6
I, too, agree with the previous comments. Granted, I do not have a child going through school, as I am the child going through school myself, but I will advocate for the smaller schools, particularly when the fit is right.

I went to a smaller university for undergrad (University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point) with the intention going in to pursue at minimum a graduate degree within the field of counseling. Because of the small environment at UWSP, I was able to stand out within my department, as I was involved in several student organizations and research projects. Following graduation I received several offers for enrollment in masters programs, and later received a full-ride scholarship for my doctoral studies in Counseling Psychology.

Long story short, from my perspective, the college experience is just as much about fit as it is about personal goals (both short-term and long-term).
 
#7
Ordained Dudeist Priest
Johns Creek, GA
Another thought, and I can't believe I forgot about this--if she's decided that Chemistry is her field of study, look up the websites for the various professional associations for Chemistry. Many times they'll have information rating/evaluating specific programs, rather than the entire university at large. That's something that tends to get lost in the shuffle. Southeast Central State U may be a top 20 or whatever university, but they may have a low rated underwater basket-weaving program, and the general rankings won't pick that up.
 
#8

Yes, I have seen these. This is where some of my confusion comes from. The discrepancy from one to the next is fairly wide, once you get past Cal Tech, MIT and Harvard. Of course, as has been said in this thread several times, fit is likely the most important concern. If she is in a happy place and excels in undergrad, she'll have a better chance to get the opportunity she wants afterwards. Thank you to all!