In December, Tulane University (La.) announced it had misreported some admissions data for its Freeman School of Business to be used in US News & World Report’s college rankings. Earlier last year, The George Washington University (D.C.) revealed that it also had erroneously reported information to the rankings, as did Emory University (Ga.) and Claremont McKenna College (Calif.). Whether intentional or not, these reporting errors can unfairly skew an institution’s data in the most favorable light. It is little wonder that a number of institutions have rebelled and are refusing to participate in any ranking activity by any agency.
Global Language Monitor began compiling information about college rankings (and ratings) when it noticed a number of biases built into supposedly non-biased studies. It was also interested in applying its advances in understanding the role the internet had begun to play in post-modern decision making. GLM’s goal is to measure colleges according to their “brand equity.” Simply put, brand equity is the value a consumer bestows upon a product. If you have two otherwise identical, competing schools, which is the one consumers will choose, for which they are willing to pay a premium (or dedicate four or more years of their life)?
GLM created the TrendTopper MediaBuzz analysis as a way of seeing the schools through the eyes of the world at large. The methodology encompasses not only the Twitters and YouTubes of the world, but also tens of millions of blogs and billions of web pages, as well as the top global print and electronic media. This enormous sample simply cannot be tampered with because no single institution has the ability to influence, let alone corrupt, data streaming from hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of points of origin.
TrendTopper MediaBuzz utilizes a mathematical model that ‘normalizes’ the data and allows GLM to make statistically-significant comparisons among the various measurements. The end result is a non-biased analytical tool that will allow you to gauge the relative values differing institutions are assigned by consumers, as well as measures of how that value changes over time.