In a new paper published by The Quarterly Journal of Economics, four researchers propose a method of ranking colleges according to students’ “revealed preferences”—the institutions they choose to attend over others that have accepted them. Using survey data from a national sample of high-achieving students, the researchers determined the winners and losers of each applicant’s “matriculation tournament.” They then used those outcomes to rank about 100 selective colleges. (Harvard University topped the list, but you already knew that; the University of Notre Dame nearly cracked the top 10.) ...
The paper, “A Revealed Preference Ranking of U.S. Colleges and Universities,” proposes an alternative to the two most prominent measures of desirability—admission rates (the percentage of applicants accepted) and yield (the percentage of accepted students who enroll). ...
The desirability model, the paper concludes, ”eliminates incentives for colleges to adopt strategic and inefficient admissions policies to improve their rankings.” At the very least, the findings suggest that many colleges are wasting their time and money trying to look prettier than they really are, at least in the eyes of applicants.
The paper’s authors are Christopher N. Avery, a professor of public policy and management at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government; Mark E. Glickman, a professor of public-health policy and management at Boston University’s School of Public Health; Caroline M. Hoxby, a professor of economics at Stanford University; and Andrew Metrick, a professor of finance and management at Yale University’s School of Management.
The paper is available to the journal’s subscribers. Read the free abstract here.
I'm thinking about conducting a study like this (RP-SP) for regional comprehensive universities. The target journal would be the QJE (with the SEJ as a backup). I'll need a few co-authors from other RCUs (I know of a few possibilities), some data and an econometrics software package.