A New Look At College Rankings: SMI | Alyssa J Freitas: A New Look At College Rankings: SMI

October 29, 2014

A New Look At College Rankings: SMI

Let's talk college rankings! So many people (formally myself included) put a ton of weight on college rankings. With lists like USNews and Princeton Review, which have always promoted ivy league schools as the very best, we can sometimes lose view of what is truly important when it comes to choosing a school: the potential and likelihood of growth. This is where the SMI Ranking comes in.

image source; modified by Alyssa J Freitas

Currently, the United States has the lowest economic mobility and greatest gap between rich and poor among wealthy democratic countries (source). We are getting to a point that is eerily similar to Europe before the Great Depression with wide wealth gaps and limited opportunity for mobility.

SMI (which is short for social mobility index) accounts for economic mobility which is what the United States is known for as "the land of opportunity." Unfortunately, higher education has become more and more focused on raising tuition without providing any additional benefit. This perpetuation of going to a school for its prestige rather than looking for its ability to better you economically is dangerous.

The SMI Ranking (which can be found here) takes into account tuition, percentage of student body whose families are below the US median income, graduation rate, median salary 0-5 years after graduation, and endowment. All of these factors are important because you go to college to make a better life for yourself, so your school should support this!

The College of New Jersey (which I've already bragged about here) comes in at #45 on the SMI Ranking while schools like Princeton (#360), Harvard (#438), and Yale (#440) are much, much lower down on the list.

What do you make of this? Do you support traditional rankings? Why?

-Alyssa J Freitas    

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