Paul L. Caron

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Head-to-Head College Rankings: Harvard #1, Caltech #2, Yale #3

BracketChristopher N. Avery (Harvard University, Kennedy School), Mark E. Glickman (Boston University, School of Public Health), Caroline M. Hoxby (Stanford University, Department of Economics) & Andrew Metrick (Yale University, School of Management), A Revealed Preference Ranking of U.S. Colleges and Universities:

We present a method of ranking U.S. undergraduate programs based on students’ revealed preferences. When a student chooses a college among those that have admitted him, that college “wins” his “tournament.” Our method efficiently integrates the information from thousands of such tournaments. We implement the method using data from a national sample of high-achieving students. We demonstrate that this ranking method has strong theoretical properties, eliminating incentives for colleges to adopt strategic, inefficient admissions policies to improve their rankings. We also show empirically that our ranking is (1) not vulnerable to strategic manipulation; (2) similar regardless of whether we control for variables, such as net cost, that vary among a college’s admits; (3) similar regardless of whether we account for students selecting where to apply, including Early Decision. We exemplify multiple rankings for different types of students who have preferences that vary systematically.

Revealed Preference Rank    
Harvard 1    
Caltech 2    
Yale 3    
MIT 4    
Stanford 5    
Princeton 6    
Brown 7    
Columbia 8    
Amherst 9    
Dartmouth 10    
Wellesley 11    
Penn 12    
Notre Dame 13    
Swarthmore 14    
Cornell 15    
Georgetown 16    
Rice 17    
Williams 18    
Duke 19    
Virginia 20    

(Hat Tip: Freakonomics.)

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