Academics grades indicate that quality of classes, professors, and the overall Academic environment. Grades are based on student's ratings of their professors in the following criteria: accessibility, communication skills, general knowledge, interest in class subjects, interest is students, and time spent in the classroom. Student ratings for the school's academic environment are based on the following criteria: academic advisors, class availability, consistency in grading, course subject variety, curriculum flexibility, gen-ed requirements, manageability or workload, online course options, scheduling & registration, technology in the classroom, use of teaching assistants (TAs), and quality of TAs. Open-ended student reviews of specific majors and academics in general are scored based on the grade that the respondent attributed to their review. In addition to student reviews, Academics grades take in to account each school's retention rate, graduation rate, average SAT scores, acceptance rate, faculty who hold a terminal degree, and student-faculty ratio.
Choosing a college is an important decision that requires a large commitment of both time and money. Although school statistics, campus visits, and view books can be helpful to get acquainted with a school, they don't tell students what the school will really be like once they are enrolled. The only way to know that is to ask the current students on campus.
Our grades for each of the ranking categories are determined by calculating a total score for a school that takes into account three different factors:
These scores are then compared across all ranked schools for that topic and are translated into a final grade that reflects the schools performance in that topic as compared to the performance of all other ranked schools.
In order to gather the most accurate student rankings, we hire student authors at campuses around the country to administer an in-depth survey to their peers. The survey collects student opinions in the form of both multiple choice and rating block style questions for each of the rankings categories. Aggregate survey responses for each question are scored and weighted based on importance to that topic's overall grade.
Open-ended student reviews are assigned a grade by the respondent that corresponds to the nature of their review. Reviews scores also receive a weight based on importance.
Students are experts on the quality of campus life at their own school, but considering the large number of campuses in the US, they have little basis to compare the quality of campus life to that of other schools. To provide a basis for comparison, relevant data was used from the US Department of Education and as self-reported on school websites and in the Common Data Set. These values were also weighted based on importance to that topic's grade. If any of the criteria for a school were unavailable, a default value was assigned that neither increased nor decreased the school's ranking.
A total score for each school was calculated in all of the 20 topics based on the weighted values for data and aggregate survey responses. Although we incorporate outside data, our weighting system places heavy emphasis on student responses and reviews as we believe that these ratings provide the most accurate evaluation of each individual school.
Total scores in each section are assigned a grade based on a designated distribution so that a school's grade reflects its performance for that topic in comparison to all other ranked schools.