2 years ago
Admissions Advice

I'm upset about the US New Ranking for Columbia University and this is why.

Tenured and untouchable math prof. Michael Thaddeus did make a valid point that some of the data Columbia submitted didn't align with the 2 areas of the ranking worth 11% which is 1.) Percent full-time and part-time faculty with terminal degrees in their field worth 3%, and 2.) Class size index worth 8%. Columbia still has the most PhDs compared to its peer colleges like Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Princeton, and MIT at 95.3% so that shouldn't affect the 3% part of the ranking. And Columbia's 77% of classes being smaller than 30 students is comparable to both Stanford at 78.4% and Harvard at 79.7%, both schools in the top 5. When Thaddeus published his findings, Columbia decided to run its own investigation, withdraw from the 2021-22 rankings, and future rankings by US NEWS, and produce its own Common Data Set to transparently show the numbers, something they didn't publish publicly for the past 7 years.

Astonishingly, US NEWS decided to include Columbia in its 2022-23 rankings despite the univeristy bowing out 2 months ago well ahead of the publication today. Furthermore, US NEWS did not use any of the data in the 2021-22 Common Data Set it published and released this week.

Instead of dinging them commensurate with the Thaddeus data findings, they sucker punched Columbia University by ranking them down to their rank 35 years ago in 1988. 2 (2021), 3 (2020), 3(2019), 3(2018), 5(2018), 5(2017), 4(2016), 4(2015), 4(2014), 4(2013), 4 ,(2012), 4(2011), 8(2010), 8(2009), 9(2008), 9(2007), 9(2006), 9(2005),11(2004), 10(2003), 9(2002), 10(2001), 10(2000), 10(1999), 9(1998), 11(1997), 15(1996), 9(1995), 11(1994), 10(1993), 9(1992), 10(1991), 11(1990), 8(1989), 18(1988).

This outrageous public aggression against Columbia will not go away quietly. I think it would be been more prudent to lower them somewhere between #5 and #7 but back to a 1988 ranking is just ridiculously egregious.

I'm looking forward to seeing what real-world power and impact US News has over Columbia University. The first test will be whether they get as many ED applications as last year.

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2 years ago

I completely agree with this. While Columbia University did report inaccurate information, the school also took the necessary steps to acknowledge and rectify the mistake. Although many may see this as a scandal, the fact that they addressed the misinformation as soon as it was brought to their attention leads me to believe that it was an honest mistake.

Even if Columbia was aware of the false report prior to Thaddeus' publication of his findings, they still took the appropriate actions. Whether it was just to save face, I cannot say. What I do know is that their handling of the situation has in fact boosted them in my list. I want to go to a college that has shown that they can admit their wrongdoings, and they have shown that here.

Given that the actual (confirmed) data still shows a Top 10 worthy school, it is ridiculous that US News would rank them so low. Frankly, I think it displays a level of pettiness unbecoming of such a renowned source. Yes, Columbia University is in the midst of a scandal, but that doesn't mean that it isn't a good school.

This is not the worst thing an elite college has ever done, and the reaction from US News seems unproportional compared to other situations that have happened over the years.


2 years ago

US News did a similar thing to Reed College when they chose not to participate in the rankings. They ranked them like #90 or #112 out of Liberal Arts Colleges. Reed students/teachers figured out the USNews algorithm and reported that it should be #38 but it went on deaf ears. I think they are still #72 this year still far off the ranking they would receive if they paid the ranking fees.

Columbia is paying a heavy price considering that they never gave US News permission to start re-ranking them. They have opted out in 2022-2023 but US News is bullying them at this point.


a year ago[edited]

I couldn’t disagree more!

Deception and dishonesty are the worst reputation any college can have. Despicable behavior that deceives students, and their families, who pay stratospheric COA, deserves vilification of the highest magnitude, to deter copycats, AND punish the institution for such egregious behavior that abused our trust.

There have been other such institutional abuses over the years. And we all know (from past revelations) that most colleges use all kinds of subterfuge to create a persona that’s better than the reality. Colleges know full well the gravity of their actions, and are well aware of what is ethical and not.. Only the most gullible among us would have any sympathy for their misdeeds. Make no mistake, their actions were premeditated!

They richly deserve to be kicked to the curb and spat on!

Next time, they will think TWICE before lying to us!


2 years ago

Universities should be held to the highest ethical standards, very much like they expect the students to. Purpose of journalism is to shed light on discrepancies so I am with US News on this one. How is this any different than Ryan Cohen allegedly misinforming the Street?

🎤2 years ago

Yes, all universities should do their best to adhere to the highest ethical standard. You are missing the point about my complaint about US News. Columbia both voluntarily withdrew from the rankings and informed US News that they would not be participating in the future rankings until they were able to investigate the source of the discrepancy and correct it.

In the past 60 days, they conducted their own forensic accounting that determined what the correct numbers should be and 100% fully disclosed that in the 2021-2022 common data set last week.



US News nevertheless decided to include Columbia on their 2022-23 rankings without their expressed permission and without using the 100% accurate Common Data Set facts and figures. Instead, it cited again faulty data it collected from 3rd party sources to determine what their rankings would be.

This is unacceptable and retaliatory behavior by US News. After all, they are not an independent non-profit think tank tasked with taking on an academic merit-based assessment of colleges in the US. They are a for-profit business that sells subscriptions no differently than Princeton Review or the NY Times.

Michael Thaddeus the whistleblower was quoted this week saying that if a university can drop from #2 to #18 in one cycle, that sort of questions the validity of the ranking methodology themselves. Or in other words, USNews rankings are BS.

Your Ryan Cohen example of GameStop has nothing to do with the US News rankings.

US News has for many years had a monopoly on college rankings and they have a Quid Pro Quo model or a pay-to-play model. It's not free to the colleges because they have to hire dedicated staff to be in charge of collecting and submitting specific data sets year after year. Other ranking services pull data directly from the Common Data sets, IRS tax forms, public records, and public sources. US News is like the Common App. They force colleges to fill out hundreds of pages of info and data specific to that year's tweaks in the methodology. If you opt-out, like Reed College you are a "persona non grata" and punished punitively for your non-compliance and non-participation.

So they are an 800 lb bully gorilla on the street with regards to college rankings. If Columbia employees misunderstood or didn't follow the data set instructions correctly, then US News should have had checks and balances in place. But they didn't and didn't care because they are putting these rankings together to sell subscriptions not to do an accurate assessment for the public.

a year ago[edited]



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