Methodology

Our rankings are based on proprietary research conducted among tens of thousands of US college and university graduates aged 24 and above. All research was undertaken independently of any school involvement.

Each respondent answered more than 30 questions about themselves:

  • Academic record and extracurricular achievements
  • College experience and its influence on their lives today
  • Household situation and demographics
  • Level of employment and financial situation
  • Happiness in life
  • Views on relevant political and social issues

Ultimately, we ranked 227 top colleges and universities.

The Alumni Factor Overall Rankings are based on 15 attributes for each college, and each is equally weighted. Data for 13 of the 15 attributes came from graduates. Only two of the 15 attributes - the Graduation Rate and the Alumni Giving percentage - are gained from a source other than graduates. The 15 attributes included in the Overall Ranking are:

  • Intellectual Development
  • Social and Communication Skills Development
  • Friendship Development
  • Preparation for Career Success
  • Immediate Job Opportunities
  • Willingness to Recommend the College to a Prospective Student
  • Value for the Money
  • Would You Choose the College Again for Yourself?
  • Average Income of Graduate Households
  • Percentage of High Income Graduate Households (>$150K annually)
  • Average Net Worth of Graduate Households
  • Percentage of High Net Worth Graduate Households (>$1 million)
  • Overall Happiness of Graduates
  • Percentage of Alumni Who Donate to the College (2008 to 2011, average)
  • Graduation Rate of the College (from 2010)

We include and rank a number of other attributes for each college, such as Spiritual Development and Ultimate Outcomes. However, we do not include these attributes in our Overall Ranking.

Data were scrubbed of statistical outliers and cross-checked against external sources for validation. In addition, we ensured variances in the age distribution of respondents did not skew results.

We kept it simple and transparent. We did not let our subjective judgment of what is important in an education lead to values-based weightings that might favor some schools more than others. That is for you, the reader, to ultimately decide.

To the extent possible, results for any given school are included in this publication only if they were proven to be of a sufficient sample size to be statistically reliable. If you are interested in learning more about the statistics, please see this commentary from our advisor,  David  M. Goldsman, Ph.D.