Every website and publication has taken a stab, at least once, at ranking colleges because CLICKS. The clicks are so good.
The rankings are normally fairly standard—there are your party school rankings, like Playboy’s and the Princeton Review’s and ours, and there are your academic rankings, like Newsweek’s and Forbes’ and others. But the World Reputation Rankings may be the most fascinating. It’s also, not coincidentally, the weirdest.
Since 2011, the UK-based Times Higher Education surveys a few thousand academics in 150 countries and asks them what universities they consider the most excellent. You don’t factor in yield rate, student surveys, anything. It’s just, Hey: do you think the University of Kyoto is pretty dope?
The THE freely admits the results are completely subjective. The University of Michigan turn you down for tenure? Fuck it, put ’em behind SUNY-Oswego. Don’t like Duke’s basketball team? Put UNC twenty slots higher.
Of course academics are probably a little more clear-headed. At its root, the World Reputation Rankings aim to find the schools with the most powerful brands—combining both reputation and a feeling of general excellence. Which is kind of what you ultimately want out of a degree.
Here’s how it played out this year: For the fourth year in a row, Hahhhhhh-vahd topped the list, followed closely by the other nerds in Beantown, MIT. Stanford took No. 3; Cambridge and Oxford followed at 4 and 5, then five American universities—Berkeley, Princeton, Yale, CalTech, and UCLA—closed out the top 10.
Perhaps most interesting was how well Big 10 schools faired: Michigan came in as the 15th-ranked university in the world, Illinois at 23, Wisconsin at 28, and Penn State and Purdue at 39 and 48, respectively. That’s fucking awesome for anyone who believes in public universities.
A few more of note:
Columbia University: 12
University of California San Diego: 40
Find the rest of the rankings here.
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