Why Do We Rank Based on Influence? Why Should Students Care?

At Academic­Influence.com, we argue that influence is the most important factor in determining how a school should rank. Further, we believe that the influence of institutions is truly demonstrated by the excellence of noteworthy individuals.

Why Do We Rank Based on Influence? Why Should Students Care?
By Dr. Jed Macosko

School rankings propose to describe how one school is better than another. But what makes one school better than another? The answer depends entirely on the factors you use to draw up your ranking.

Each school ranking system selects and prioritizes certain factors in determining excellence. The result is a ranking landscape in which each ranking outlet promotes its own metrics, and its own ideas about what factors are most important to students. These factors may include admission rates, graduation rates, faculty publication, and more. Factors may include the success of the athletics program and the quality of dining hall food. But what do these factors really tell you about how good the school is at delivering a quality education? What do these factors really tell you about the school’s track record for producing excellent academic and professional outcomes?

So what is the most important school ranking factor?

At Academic­Influence.com, we argue that influence is the most important factor in determining how a school should rank. Further, we believe that the influence of institutions is truly demonstrated by the excellence of noteworthy individuals.

Why Influence?

Ultimately, what makes a school excellent is the quality of the faculty it employs and the quality of the students it graduates into the world. As an individual learner, you seek a college or university that can ultimately help you realize your own own excellence both educationally and professionally.

This is why Academic­Influence.com measures the true, real-world influence of noteworthy individuals, and maps connections between these individuals and the institutions where they have learned, taught, researched, and published. The result is an encompassing metric for ranking institutions of higher learning, one that captures the wide array of performance, publishing, and professional development metrics used by other ranking systems while also offering a new layer of insight into the true value proposition of higher education.

How Is the Influence of Noteworthy Individuals Measured?

Influence Networks uses machine learning and search algorithms to evaluate the real-world influence of noteworthy individuals — those who have made a direct impact in their field, industry, or area of expertise. Our algorithm crawls Wikipedia’s enormous, constantly growing, and perpetually transforming body of data, knowledge, and information in order to measure each individual’s sheer permeation of this comprehensive data source. The result is a clear measurement that denotes influence on a practical scale and without personal bias.

AcademicInfluence.com leverages Influence Network’s innovative ranking metric to illuminate connections between individuals of influence and the colleges or universities where they have learned, taught, researched, and published. The same metric may be used to connect noteworthy individuals to specific departments, degree programs, disciplines, and career paths.

All of the information we use resides on the Web. Thus, in gauging influence, we are measuring the “webprint” made by noteworthy individuals. This webprint demonstrates more than mere popularity. Our algorithm uses this webprint to determine actual impact in given disciplines and fields, which provides a clear way to measure individual influence. Schools, disciplines, and departments boasting the highest level of affiliation with influential faculty and alumni will rank highest in our Influence Ranking algorithm.

View our Methodology to learn more about Influence Ranking’s innovative algorithm and how we use this algorithm to induce transparent, trustworthy, and relevant rankings of schools, departments, and degree programs.

Why Should Students Care About Influence?

Schools are in the business of education. Any meaningful ranking of the “best schools” must be informed by how well an institution, imparts ideas, knowledge, and skills to its students, and how effectively these attributes translate into career opportunities, earning power, and meaningful professional achievements for graduates. To succeed in these areas, an institution must employ faculty who are leaders in their given fields, those who are measurably influential in the subjects, disciplines, and professional sectors connected to their work. Likewise, this success needs to be reflected in the school’s graduates, those who have shown themselves to be influential in their respective fields and professions.

As a serious student seeking an excellent university, the path worn by others can tell you a great deal about the opportunity ahead. You want to learn from the very best educators, rub shoulders with the brightest students, follow in the footsteps of the most accomplished alumni.

By using influence to guide your college and university choices, you are seeking out the faculty and fellow students of the highest caliber. In doing so, you rank yourself among them, and position yourself to one day also be a person of influence.