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The Ranking System

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by Jacob Akins / published 7.31.2015 / updated 8.22.2020

The Ranking System


Successful Student’s Ranking Mission Statement:

The Ranking System at Successful Student is for students. Finding the right school and area of study can be daunting when there are so many schools from which to choose. In addition, there are many print publications and websites that rank schools. It can be difficult to make sense of what program, and at what school, is the right one.

Successful Student’s design is to help students navigate education in general, and find the right school and program in particular, by providing educational resources—and this includes ranking programs and schools.

The approach to ranking schools at Successful Student is unique, because it is constructed from the student’s point-of-view, and takes into consideration things that are important and beneficial to students specifically. This doesn’t mean that students are surveyed, it simply means that the factors that go into rankings, and the weight given to them, are considered from the vantage point of students. This is a bottom-up approach to education ranking, instead of a top-down approach used by other education publications.

This is an explanation of how rankings are composed at Successful Student. It should be noted that there are subjective elements in rankings that consider intangibles, such as academic reputation.


Successful Student’s Ranking Methodology:

One very important objective metric that we examine when ranking degree programs, departments, individual colleges, and universities as a whole, are their faculty’s h-index numbers. This translates to these authors, and by extension degree programs, departments, colleges and universities having academic influence in their respective fields and at large.

For a fuller explanation, please read our article titled:

The h-index: How Academic Influence is Understood and Quantified

All other ranking factors are listed at the end of each article. These factors vary from ranking to ranking. If it is an online school ranking, factors like online resources and access to class instructors are taken into consideration. If it is a ranking of campus-based schools in a program like culinary arts, then something like food labs and restaurant facilities for hands-on learning are taken into account.

The order of the criteria in each article is also the order of importance and weight given to each factor. The first factor is weighted the most, the second is weighted the second most, etc. The ranking criteria are then synthesized per a proprietary system, and depending on their scoring per the weight given each factor, the school is assigned a ranking place relative to, and situated among, the other schools in the ranking. We consult the National Center for Education Statistics, College Navigator, and individual college and university websites to access the necessary information.

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Successfulstudent.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.