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NEW: Brown, RISD Ranked Top Student Choice Colleges by Parchment

Wednesday, September 05, 2012


Brown University moves into another Top 10 college ranking today, and RISD joins the Top 40 as well.

Brown University is one very popular choice among applicants, as a new ranking from Parchment.com, names Rhode Island's Ivy League school #7 in its 2nd annual Student Choice Rankings.

This is Brown's debut on the Top 10 List--it moved up 6 spots from its #13 ranking last year. Meanwhile, the school's next-door neighbor, the Rhode Island School of Design, ranked #35 on the new list, up 13 spots from last year. The college research website claims that this ranking is "the only system that compares colleges based on actual acceptance and enrollment data." Brown and RISD were the only RI schools to make the Top 100 in the new ranking.

The Top 10 in the US

Parchment's 2013 rankings included debuts not only from Brown, but also from University of Chicago and Amherst College. The rankings are:

1. Harvard University                     
2. Stanford University                 
3. Yale University                     
4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology        
5. Princeton University                 
6. University of Chicago
7. Brown University
8. Caltech
9. Amherst College
10. U.S. Air Force Academy

How they got the rankings

The 2013 Parchment Student Choice Rankings were based on a sampling of more than 200,000 college acceptances from 2009 to 2012 with data from all 50 states, an increase of 67 percent in the data set since the 2012 rankings, according to Parchment. "Unlike rankings based on subjective judgments like reputation, or factors subject to "gaming," such as how many applicants a college rejects," Parchment says it ranks colleges and universities "based solely on the decisions of hundreds of thousands of students who were admitted to multiple colleges and ultimately chose one to attend."

The chess method

When a student is admitted to several colleges, he or she must decide which school to attend. This decision reveals a preference for the chosen school compared to the other schools the student could have attended. After observing enough of these decisions, Parchment ranks the colleges based on the students' revealed preferences. This method for ranking colleges is derived from physicist Arpad Elo’s rating system for chess players, which was later studied by Harvard University professors Caroline Hoxby and Mark Glickman. This results in the colleges ranked not from “best” to “worst,” but instead from “most likely to be chosen” to “least likely to be chosen.” Schools can only move up in the rankings by making their programs more appealing to prospective students. The rankings system aligns the interests of colleges and students to support better match-ups.

“Colleges can game other rankings systems – boosting their position by taking certain steps to appear more selective or have higher student test scores,” said Parchment.com General Manager Brent Pirruccello. “Parchment’s rankings provide the only list that is student-centric and equitable in that student decisions are the sole criteria used in comparing a broad-base of higher education institutions, putting them all on a level playing field.”

For the entire rankings, go here.

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