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Google School Rankings

A graduate student at Stanford – Mike Tung – put together a suite of scripts and tools to generate College rankings based on Google searches. He didn’t want to pay for the USNews’ Annual America’s Best Colleges report. Though his work is quite technical, I imagine that it will be simplified into a web app that any student can use at any point in time. “What are the College rankings now?” click…

This site hit the front page of digg.com (a site that is catching on as a way to stay on top of cool stuff – front page on digg is like front page on Slashdot).

I’ve posted his results below. The first results are the US News College Rankings where available. The second number is his SVM ranking. (this is easier to read on his site http://vcmike.blogspot.com/2006/01/ranking-colleges-using-google-and-oss.html)

Note that U Washington was rated top by his method and Princeton fell from first place. The interesting thing is how much of a role Google, digg, Facebook and other “Web2.0” software will play in new students decision making about the College that they attend.

Name 	USNews 	 SVM
University of Washington 	57.4 	98.929
Yale University 	98 	98.081
Harvard University 	98 	97.953
Massachusetts Institute of Technology 	93 	92.996
Stanford University 	93 	92.922
National University
Columbia University 	86 	92.255
Princeton University 	100 	90.609
New York University 	65 	85.271
University of Chicago 	85 	85.052
Indiana University 		83.973
University of Pennsylvania 	93 	83.91
Duke University 	93 	79.487
University of Southern California 	66 	78.645
University of Pittsburgh
Cornell University 	84 	78.051
University of Florida
University of Colorado
The American College
University of California, Berkeley 	78 	76.192

NOTE: When I sent this out to an email list earlier today, I caused quite an email discussion about the numbers and how they were gotten. Below is my reply…

Hi all,

Sorry for starting a kerfuffle this morning. I think what I was trying to communicate was lost in the numbers.

I agree that his method and numbers are imperfect at best. But, take into account this was his (first) attempt to build a complex suite of searches against Google to “rank” Colleges.

As Kathi Dwelle points out – his search method found only 170 faculty for UW-Madison out of our 2,064. Other places seem to have a better Google presence for their faculty not more faculty. The fact that his number is wrong does mean his ranking is wrong. It also means that Googling trying to learn how many faculty we have returns bad numbers. This is the issue in my humble opinion.

If students start making choices based on Google (and they are making lots of choices based on Google), then we should be sure that Google returns the results that we want for our institution.

As for Facebook, he is not using Facebook in his ranking but I believe that these types of social software will impact the choices that prospective students make. If they find lots of cool people in Facebook that attend UW-Madison, they will want to come here too.

I am certain the he and others will continue to work on this alpha-test idea. There will be a “Click to see the Google Ranked of Colleges” in the near future and it will probably be pretty popular. We should understand the methods that are used AND make sure our information is presented such that we rank well.

Those were my real points – not that U-Wash is a 98.929 and we are 71.137.


About jimphelps

Chair, ITANA Enterprise Architect, Sr. IT Architect; UW-Madison


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