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Top 10 Colleges and Universities from U.S. for 2012 News

U.S. News College Rankings IconEach year, U.S. News releases rankings of the top universities around the country. Although many education experts question the value of college rankings, most schools use these rankings a marketing tool. The list of best colleges is almost unvaryingly topped with Ivy League institutions, followed by highly competitive technical universities, such as MIT and CalTech. The rankings are determined by a number of criteria, including student matriculation rate, class size and the average ACT/SAT score of the student body.

This year, California Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology both rose from the 2011 rankings, in an odd tie between five universities for the fifth position.

Here are the top 10 Colleges, according to U.S. News:

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Department of Education Reminds School Districts that Discrimination is Illegal

As school districts begin enrolling for the next school year, a letter from the U.S. Department of Education was sent out to remind school districts that denying elementary or secondary education to any student is federally prohibited. In response to recent reports of school districts rejecting students based on citizenship, the letter was meant to reinforce the federal guidelines of education as decided in the 1982 Supreme Court case, Plyer v. Doe.

The decision of Plyer v. Doe upholds the inability of any state to deny public education to students whether they are a citizen of the United States or not. Denying education to illegal immigrants was seen as imposing a hardship on minors who were not accountable for the immigration decisions of their parents. Despite the actions of several American school districts participating in education discrimination this has been the law since 1982.

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Why You Should Throw Out College Rankings

Colletrash-college-rankingsge rankings are good for selling magazines and college guide books, but are they good for students? Most likely not. “No current ranking system of colleges and universities directly measures the most critical point—student performance and learning,” said former Secretary of Eduction Margaret Spellings. Not only are the various criteria for rankings debatable, they often do little to help students understand what kinds of programs are compatible with their learning styles, interests, social lives and financial needs.

Each Ranking Has Bias

There is no numerical value that can describe a college. So reviewers have to invent various types of criteria that can be quantified. Some of these criteria are fairly straight forward: tuition, acceptance rate, teacher to student ratio. Firstly, how much these factors impact the student experience is debatable, and the weight each criterion is given is subjective. Secondly, there are kinds of criteria that must be gathered from answers that are themselves subjective.

U.S. News values the number of full-time professors, financial resources, graduate performance, and alumni giving. While this is valid data, it is also favors colleges that have big endowments and wealthy student bodies. On the other hand, Forbes claims to rank colleges from the student’s perspective. This leads to a bias towards schools where students’ values cohere closely with those of the college. While this is not a bad thing, neither is ideological diversity. Just because students see faults in their college or have disagreements with the administration doesn’t mean that they are receiving a poor education.

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Considering the College Rankings: Forbes vs. US News

usnews-vs-forbes-college-rankingsCollege ranking is controversial, and not just because school pride dictates we consider our college or alma mater the best. On the heels of Forbes announcement of the best colleges in the states, US News has released its behemoth of a report. The two reports have fairly different conclusions, so it’s best to consider the different criteria used by each report.

The two reports obviously have different criteria. Forbes specializes in ranking colleges with a high level of student input. The first question in their published criteria asks if students enjoy their classes and overall academic experience. Next they consider how well graduates do in their post-college careers and how many students graduate in four years or less. They do not reveal how they weight the rest of their criteria, but they do say that each counts for less than 20 percent. Read the rest of this entry »

Best 10 Law Schools in the U.S.

justice scalePersonally, if I ever decided to become a lawyer, I would want to go to Harvard Law School. Why, you might ask?

Because Elle Woods from “Legally Blonde” went there, duh.

Thankfully the people at US News have a slightly stricter and more selective process for determining which schools make the best law schools. US News analyzes each school, based on the following quality assessment factors: peer assessment score, assessment by lawyers/judges, selectivity, median LSAT scores, median undergrad GPA, acceptance rate, placement success, employment rate for graduates, and bar passage rate.

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