Academic Rating

To construct an academic rating for each college, we rely on ten different, equally weighted indicators of academic quality, namely the average SAT/ACT composite of incoming students, the percentage of incoming students ranked in the top 10% of their high school class, student-to-faculty ratio, class size, the percentage of faculty who are full-time employees, the percentage of faculty with terminal degrees, mean faculty salary, freshman retention rate, six year-graduation rate, and graduation performance. This last variable compares an institution’s actual graduation rate with its predicted graduation rate, after controlling for SAT/ACT scores of incoming students as well as the percentage of undergraduates receiving a Pell Grant (a grant primarily given to low-income students). Both variables are very strong predictors of graduate outcomes.

After collecting data, we normalize and subsequently sum values across all ten indicators, assigning each institution a total score, and by extension, its academic rating. Academic ratings range from 0-100. While we awarded a numerical score, we are fully aware that no such style of metric is completely precise. An institution’s academic environment and offerings can never be captured by a single number. That said, we do believe the ratings (and subsequent rankings) assigned can prove useful when comparing the academic climates and offerings of the colleges featured on our website.