Monday, January 28, 2008
A reader sent me the results of a poll being conducted on a genuine pre-law chat board (in other words, not Autoadmit) about which school is "most overrated," referring to its US News rank. (No over- or under-ratings occur, of course, in responsible rankings.)
21.5% of the 200 students who voted on this site picked Penn, which was ranked 6th in US News (with reputation scores that had it either 9th or 10th). Penn clearly has many strengths, and has been served very well during Mike Fitts's tenure as Dean, but ranking the school ahead of Michigan, Berkeley et al., or tying it with Chicago, seems quite out of whack with other pertinent indicators of excellence, such as Supreme Court clerkships, placement in law teaching, scholarly impact of the faculty, and so on. Penn's US News rank is obviously driven by per capita expenditures, the one data point the magazine does not print, and about which some other observers have raised questions.
15% of the students voted for Cornell, which was ranked 13th. No idea why students are picking on that result! Similarly surprising: 13.5% of the students picked Georgetown, which ranked 14th, as "overrated."
9.5% named NYU (at 4th) and 9% named Michigan (at 8th) as most overrated.
Duke (at 10th) was picked by 5.5%, and all the other top schools garnered less than 5% of the votes, with Stanford (at #2 in US News, tied with Harvard) getting only 1% of the votes for "overrated."