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University Rating For Impact & Communities (Refinement Questions; User Journey; Potential Metrics)

An alternative ranking system for universities which provides new insights for students entering the higher education system.

Photo of William Morris
27 12

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N.B. Credit for the idea goes to a team from the Shanghai Chapter OpenIDEO event - Edupractical (see video). 


The problem:

Students are very uninformed on what are the best universities for them and often don’t decisions suitable for their future. Currently, students simply look at university ranking systems that are often based on arbitrary factors that don’t relate back to applicable ways in a student’s career. 


The solution:

Create a new alternative platform that focuses specifically on rating the university’s ability to help grow future leaders in terms of impact. This is looking at how they develop communities, interaction, and systems that connect the local to the global. 

By changing how we measure success, we change how universities are run. By rating universities on their ability to create leaders that create positive impact for communities, it is applying pressure for them to improve their education processes and curriculum. At the same time, it allows for students to make one of the most important decisions of their lives in an informed manner. 

We also want to incorporate a platform for knowledge sharing between students and potential students where honest, anonymous advice is given. This means that students can best align this goals and vision with universities through a deeper way than simply rankings or open day visits. 

Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine higher education to support the needs of tomorrow?

Our idea is for students currently searching for an undergraduate or postgraduate institution. It allows students - who are more connected and globally aware than ever before - to find a degree and career path that is as innovative and purpose driven as they are. It gives the students an opportunity to thrive outside the box of an increasingly uni-dimensional and unfulfilling higher education system.

This idea emerged from:

  • An OpenIDEO outpost or chapter

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

Student surveys. One interviewing students currently applying to universities to understand their criteria for selecting a university and career path and one to students who have just or are imminently graduating. We will want to understand to what extent student’s expectations were met by their choices and how those change over the course of a degree. Of special interest are “I wish I would have known…” statements.

How would you describe this idea while in an elevator with someone? 2-3 sentences.

We are creating a tool that ranks universities based on their social impact, connectedness with local and international communities, and their resources for students to emerge as impactful global citizens. This is a reimagining of the value of the education system away from: “student as what value they will add to the economy” and moving towards valuing the impact the graduates will have on their communities, both large and small.

What is the specific problem your idea is trying to solve? 1 sentence.

Providing deeper insights into what a university offers past reputation, research, and job potential.

How is your idea different or unique from what is currently on the market?

Current measures of ‘impact’ of universities focus on specific degree paths, such as an MBA program at a certain business school. We exist not in a vacuum, but in a system, so our tool will look at the entire university as a community to asses to what level the school as a whole is engaged in not only creating better leaders but strengthening and supporting communities.

How do you plan to measure the impact of your idea?

The app would collect data on the number of hits to the site and number of registered users. After the first year at university and after graduation users would be surveyed about their current satisfaction level with the program they chose.

How might your idea be transferable to a large number of people?

Our tool will treat the global university market as one large system. Students from all over the world won’t need to access list after list to assemble a vague idea of the impact of a university. Students who previously never considered attending university outside their home country can be exposed to novel ideas and approaches, making them better players in the global society of the future.

What are your immediate next steps after the challenge?

Start to developing a deeper understanding of what students want. We have a number of perfectly situated individuals within the Shanghai community who can work with us to get this information from students. Once that is understand begin to develop a process for ranking universities and reaching out to students, professors, and other relevant parties.

27 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Anna Beridze
Team

Hello,

The idea of catering closer to students' needs in order to help them apply to academic institutions better suited for them is a great idea. Because most rating agencies tend to collect quantitate data, which is less disputable than the qualitative data you want to collect, how will you be measuring the qualitative data's reliability. I guess I'm interested in how you will be able to filter out the bias factors when collecting your survey?

Photo of Pranav
Team

Hi William,

I definitely agree that more factors need to be in place when making a college decision but I do have a few questions. If this measure of impact is implemented, wouldn't students once again use this as a ranking system which it seems you are trying to get away from. There is also a lot of current competition in the student survey space with places like Niche providing a tremendous amount of data in regards to almost every aspect of college life. I'm curious how you plan on differentiating your product, and also catching up to an established competitor since this data collection will likely be a tedious process. It's also becoming more difficult to actually reach students and receive honest feedback without some kind of incentive process. As a college student, my email is flooded with messages asking for feedback or input that I ignore because I do not have the time nor the incentive to complete it. I'd love to hear about how you might tackle this problem.

Good luck!

Photo of Yangsin Lau-Vazquez
Team

Hi William!

I am absolutely in favor for a ranking system that includes greater factors beyond academic reputation and job potential. One note you made about how you will collect your data really struck me. I see that you plan to collect data on social impact via students who have completed a year into their time at a college or university or post-graduation. I find this method of data collection interesting. It's coming directly from the source who would have greater know-how and first-hand experience at the intuition, but I fear their feedback may be subjective. On what dimensions will this data be collected on? Further, I believe it would add great depth to this data collection of included some kind of impact statistic from the surrounding community itself. This may be tricky to tabulate into actual numbers, but something along the lines of "how many non-profit organizations does this school volunteer/contribute at/for?" or "how much does the college/university invest in local initiatives/community engagement?" As much as student voices are important in driving this data, you should also consider a variety of other sources of come to an averaged score, similar to that of a metacritic or a Charity Navigator. This in conjunction with statistics of merit can greatly improve how students choose their post-secondary education.

Best of luck,
Yangsin

Photo of Helen Wang
Team

Hi William,

I definitely agree with your team about the arbitrary factors used to rank colleges today. Going through the college application process just a few years ago myself, I felt lost and confused, seeing college rankings as the end all, be all without truly thinking about what I wanted. In my mind, the higher the ranking, the better - no question.

That being said, while I do see the necessity for rankings refinement, I believe your idea needs to be more specific in what measures "the university’s ability to help grow future leaders in terms of impact." Does this mean job placement? How do you tangibly measure the impact of a school on a community? In addition, this idea of impactfulness will be defined differently by every individual. Who gets to decide what is considered impactful? A great career might be what one student is looking for, but another student might seek a well-rounded education for self-development.

A lot of the current factors that go into college rankings are numbers (# of faculty, # of Nobel Prize winners, alumni donations, alumni response rates, etc). While I don't think a school should be ranked solely based on quantitative factors, measuring qualitative factors like impact and success are much more difficult and I would like to hear more about how you would accomplish this.

Photo of Quincy KK
Team

Hi William,

I agree that post-secondary education is in definite need of a rankings overhaul. It frustrates me that college rankings are so dependent on the amount of research funding available and papers published by professors. While I do think both those metrics have some merit, I don't think most students are focused on how many times their professor has been published in an academic journal, but rather how well they can teach... I've had professors who were highly acclaimed in academia, but were terrible at guiding a class! As a result of the way rankings are currently conducted, I think many non-traditional (but highly competitive and excellent schools) are almost completely overlooked. A particular one that comes to mind in Canada, is a small and specialized school called Quest University.

Some metrics I think you should look at while evaluating schools:
- What percent of students have studied abroad?
- What percent of students participated in an internship while completing his/her studies?
- Amount of internships obtained through the school's career center.

I think Natasha Rajiv 's idea to get direct information from current and recently graduated students is a strong idea. There is no better person to help rank a college, than students who have been educated there.

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi William and team,

There are a few hours left in the refinement phase if you have any questions feel free to reach out to me.

Photo of Natasha Rajiv
Team

Hi William,

I think your idea to create an alternative ranking system for universities that truly reflects the best fit for an individual student, is a great one. As an international student studying in the United States, I faced the exact problem that you and your team mentioned, while deciding where to apply as well as where to study once I had gotten acceptances.
I think that one thing your team could do, to increase the amount of data available for potential students to see, is to incentivize existing students at various universities to write reviews or answer questions that your users are asking, so that they can get real insights from current and past students who have actually attended the school. This totally eliminates the problem of the marketing power of universities, because your users will be able to get raw, unfiltered information about the questions they have.

Since you want the platform to be targeting specifically the question of 'the university’s ability to help grow future leaders in terms of impact', this could be a preliminary question asked to all current students at universities. For example, the question could be 'What steps has your university taken to help grow future leaders and are there any specific examples that you would be willing to share?'

Photo of William Morris
Team

Hey Natasha,

Thanks for your comment, I do really like the idea of the dialogue between students and potential students think that it could be a great addition. will look at a way we can weave it in for sure.

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi William and team,

There is just a week left of refinement. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me.

Photo of William Morris
Team

Hi Kate Rushton 

I do have a question. Travis Opocensky  is working with me on this idea and we would love for him to have the ability to edit the above content? Is it possible for him to be made an administrator or given editing permission. This would help us speed up our idea building!

Thanks

Will

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi William,
Unfortunately, the system currently does not allow for more than one editor for an idea. What people have done in the past is share logins or save documents offline for a bulk upload. Sorry, I can't be of more help.
Kate

Photo of Tomer
Team

Hi William & Team.
I love the idea of re-measuring universities and putting more emphasis on the degree's value upon graduation and the graduate's ability to become a valuable member of society.
I do wonder if other than the sole value of graduates in metrics that will often seemingly belong to the work force, you will factor in the pure academic value of an institution? What if people put more value on intellectual stimulation during their studies rather than more soft skills values?

Photo of Joel Nicholson
Team

Hi William, I founded a company called UniversityHub seven years ago, with the exact same mission - to democratize rankings and help students make better decisions about their future universities. I'll share a few insights, and maybe they will be helpful.

We surveyed thousands of current students and alumni to rate their schools, and used that data to create a school match quiz called MatchU for prospective students. The main thing we asked in the quiz was "what are your top 5 factors in a future university".

However, what we found was this isn't the best way of matching students. Instead of asking them what they want, we should match them to schools that have made similar students to them happy. So we conducted another major survey on personality types and interests. And out MatchU 2.0 quiz is coming out in the next couple months, which will allow students to get matched with schools based on a 10-question quiz assessing their personality type and interests.

One thing to consider for your idea is some students may not want to attend a school to have an impact on the world. Perhaps they just want to get a job, or perhaps they just want to meet interesting and unique people. Anyway, hopefully these thoughts have inspired your idea in some way. Feel free to reach out with any questions.

Photo of Andres Felipe Vera Ramirez
Team

I really like the idea of measuring differently universities, specially when you talk about "systems". I just started taking this MOOC, and perhaps you might be interested on it: System Practice: an approach to move from impossible to impact (http://plusacumen.org/courses/systems-practice/).

Kind regards, and congrats!

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Welcome to the Refinement phase William! We've added new Refinement questions to your original submission that we'd love for you to answer. Please check out the Refinement Phase Toolkit for instructions on how to answer the new questions and other recommendations we encourage all idea teams to consider in the upcoming weeks.

Refinement Phase Toolkit: http://ideo.pn/2du9sf7

Lastly, here's a useful tip: When you update the content of your post, it'd be helpful to indicate this in your idea title by adding an extension. For example, you can add the extension " - Update: Experience Maps 02/01" to you idea title. This will be a good way to keep people informed about how your idea is progressing!

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi William and team,

I hope you all had a good start to the new year.

There are a few ideas from previous OpenIDEO challenges that might be of interest to you:

Tuition Hero from our Higher Education Financing Challenge - https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/higher-ed/impact/tuition-heroes-part-of-the-solution-to-the-problem-of-rising-tuition-rates-in-america - has a nice video and website to explain how they determine whether or not a Higher Education Institution is a tuition hero.

Water Conservation Certification from our Food Waste Challenge -
https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/food-waste/final-feedback/water-conservation-certificates-wcc-to-reduce-food-waste - has a really interesting workflow.

What are the competitors to your ranking system?

Do you have any research that can 'back up' the problem?

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi William and team,

Welcome to the refinement phase, if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me by using @ and typing my name.

Take care,

Kate

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi William and team,

In China, how influential are parents in the student's choice of college? Is what they (the parents) would be looking for different from the students?

There are a few articles that might interest you (in case you haven’t already read them):

How many rich powerful people went to elite colleges (it includes some information on China) -
http://www.businessinsider.com/how-many-rich-powerful-people-went-to-elite-colleges-2014-6?IR=T

MBA Rankings: Top Schools for Leadership - https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2012-12-31/mba-rankings-top-schools-for-leadership

The world’s most international universities 2016 - https://www.timeshighereducation.com/features/200-most-international-universities-world-2016#

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Could there be a way of feeding the information gleaned from The future of work and what it means for school into the rankings?

Photo of Max Noble
Team

William Morris this is great. So often schools are rated by popularity or marketing budget.
How do we measure the number of leader created? For example it could an vote system. Every person has 100 votes to give away in their lifetime. They just vote for the people in the system who they feel deserve the vote. And the vote are non transferable and thus have no monetary value.

Photo of William Morris
Team

Hey Max,

Yes I like it. The more I think about this idea the more excited I am, think it will act as a really cool way to provide alternative takes on universities. I think I will start my asking students what they want from the rankings. I have some friends who work at Minerva and one who founded a company called Dyad and both work very closely with students perhaps I could get them to distribute are survey to students to get an idea of the types of things they are looking for.

Photo of Max Noble
Team

After we find educational institutions that are producing leaders or impact. The next question is, Why? What is causing this? Teachers, staff, curriculum, culture?
I'm connected to all the post secondary's in Taiwan. One in particular seems to produce an abundance of change makers, and I don't know why?

Photo of Travis Opocensky
Team

When I personally consider this idea, I envision these rankings not to be something that uses metrics that are still tied to the parts of the system that gave us pause in the first place; e.g. average salary, number of graduates working in their field, etc. I prefer to promote the concept that life is not a straight line and that success is not solely measured by making one plan before university and sticking with it.

That being said, what I see these rankings being is a metric based on the impact on the community (local or global) in different categories. For example, such and such university has x amount of graduates who have worked in their community and created programs to combat homelessness, or lowered the percentage of the population that is homeless. This would give the university a higher score in the 'social responsibility' category.

I also find this idea interesting because to me it leans away from education being a commodity and makes one ask what other value we gain from it.

Photo of Teo John
Team

Hi William Morris,

You might want to consider 'Humans of Change Summit' http://thechangeschool.com/summit as part of this education curriculum for positive change and impact.

Photo of William Morris
Team

Thanks Teo,

I will be sure to check it out!

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Congrats on this being today's Featured Contribution!

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi William!

Another great idea from the Shanghai Chapter!

In case you haven't seen it, the Open Syllabus Project might help if you want to evaluate individual courses.

There are a few posts on assessing higher education in the research phase that might be worth looking at (if you haven't already) - Outcomes are all that matter and Creating a Framework for Sharing Our Story: Meaningful Assessment of Real Student Learning 

What categories could you use for the ranking?