David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
When (And Where) You Rank

March 19, 2018

I want to thank a concerned citizen who alerted a number of us to a very questionable college ranking site.  Even though this is territory I have covered before in "Ranking: Full Stop Please," this site, best-education-schools-com (de)elevates the conversation to a whole new level.  It brings new meaning to a site that ranks.

Top 10 Signs Your College Ranking Site Ranks

10) What the f*ck are you ranking?  What are the best education schools?  The schools offering specific degrees in the field of education (secondary, especially).  This is what it suggests, but it is not very clear and ultimately limits the rankings to a very limited scope.  Hint: call your site "Best Colleges for Offering Education Degrees."

9) Do you have any freaking clue how to distinguish the product offered by each of the institutions you rank?  For instance, the Einsteins here list within their header "certificates," by logical interpretation, as the lowest of all possible degrees in Education.  (Note how it works from certificates to associates to bachelors and so forth.)  And yet the #1 school for certificates is John Hopkins, which offers nothing less than a bachelor degree, because a certificate for them is something you gain "post-baccalaureate." I understand that this can pretty difficult for the local village idiot to comprehend.

8) What distinguishes the top rankings? Who knows? First off, many are pretty much for-profit or expensive online-based programs.  When the top choice is that "near-Ivy League" Grand Canyon University, one really has to wonder. No offense to all you GCU graduates. All three of you. (I know, a really cheap shot. Here's where having only a few readers helps me prevent the hate mail.)

7) How openly do you explain your criteria?  According to this site's methodology page, it uses "ranking formulas [that] are proprietary and cannot be disclosed."  Hey, if you can't share this with us, you are no better than a rankyourmusic.com.

6) Can I search your website easily to find a school I am considering?  Hell, no.  If you know the state where the "campus" is located, you can search by state, but even that is laborious. Not really very helpful to the poor, stupid bast*rds searching for online schools that may not have a clue where Walden University is located.

5) Does your main summary of an institution account for differences or do you keep falling back on one or two generalizations? Walden University, its second highest rated institution, gets an "excellent rating for security," a category that every college on the list gets in terms of its (incredibly brief) summary.  Remember, Walden University is mostly an online institution.  Many of us within higher education can speak about the nuances of the Cleary reporting system for crime statistics, the basis for this ranking.  All of us can speak about how a student matriculating online falls outside of the parameters of that data.

4) Does the website link to other questionable sites? The crime statistics link to www.american-school-search.com, a site even more aesthetically unpleasing than the best-education-schools site: messy pages, visuals that could be ads or could be data points, and cheesy graphics.

3) If you offer a criterion regarding competition, does that reflect reality? WVU is cited as having Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va, and University of Maryland, College Park, as its main competition. We might give you Maryland, but it is doubtful anyone within admissions at WVU gives a crap about Liberty. 

2) Does your site look like complete crap? O.k., I know this is purely subjective.  Forgive me, as I have been subjected to it.

1) Is it comprehensive?  I don't have that much interest in colleges that offer education programs, but I know one of my former institutions, Davenport University, has been offering an Urban Education degree for several years now. Does it show up on here?  Of course, not. They may be happy that it doesn't.

But what the hey? What am I griping about here? Harvard is ranked 24th here.  I am sure my father is up in heaven wishing he'd had the opportunity to go to Grand Canyon University instead. Heck, I wonder about Ball State, where family, colleagues and friends I respect went. It comes in 7th overall.  Do all of them now worry about the company they keep?