Media love to cover institution rankings


The general public frequently read articles ranking the top 10 colleges, airlines, cities, restaurants, school systems and so much more.  Typically, when reading the article the readers accept the ordered rankings.

Following this, Facebook users post these articles to “prove” their favorite college, airline, city, restaurant, etc., is the highest ranked.

What are these rankings based on?  And who is coming up with the rankings?

The specific articles written usually do not explain the criteria and reasoning for the ranked items.  They simply just list it and provide a little information on each topic.

Where does the general public find out more about the criteria and rankings?

If the reader is curious, unconventionally, they need to go to the “criteria article” which is separate from the rankings.

CNN released an article with the rankings of the top U.S. carrier.  The comments on the lowest ranked airline, Sprint states “The Airline Quality Rating, released Monday, rates the United States’ 13 largest airlines.  No. 13 overall, Spirit had the worst on-time performance and the highest complaint rate.”

Their highest ranked airline is Virgin Airlines.  The ranking qualifications for Virgin is “Virgin Airlines has the lowest mishandled luggage complaints.”

Although both state useful information, they are not judging the airline on the same criteria.  The article does not state how the individual criteria is measured as well.

Similarly, the college ranking new released an article listing the 2016 top undergraduate university and college rankings.

For number one on the list, Princeton, the criteria ranges from endowment, to the tuition, to the enrollment, to size, to stating which famous people graduated from the university.

The lowest ranked university on the list is Worcester Polytechnic Institute.  Although their criteria also includes the tuition, endowment and a list of the famous people who graduated from the university, their criteria is focused more on the student involvement.

The rankings that are most specific, constant, and reliable seem to be the restaurant rankings.

The restaurant criteria is the same for all restaurants.  Yes, the articles comment on different highlights of the restaurants, but states clear ranking criteria.  You can view Zagat’s rankings and ranking criteria here