I'm mostly staying out of this thread because it's pretty US-specific (thank goodness!) but as an academic I will say one thing: when considering perceived university rankings, it really matters what your child will be doing with the degree, because universities are not homogeneous: good departments can exist inside not-so-good universities and vice versa. So do you pick good department or good university? One approach would be: if your child expects not to use the specific education in the department (the major to you I guess) then pick good university, for impressing people later. If s/he does expect to use it (e.g. to go on to graduate school) then pick the good department, because people in the business know the departments and couldn't care less about the university overall. [ETA and for, you know, actually getting a good education you couldn't just as well give yourself, i.e. learning from real experts!] Most people should care a lot more about the quality of the department than they apparently do.

In the UK, what you want to look at as a serious potential scholar is the RAE data for your subjects of interest - this tells you how good the department is at research, and nothing about teaching, but tbh teaching ratings are more or less synonymous with spoon-feeding ratings in practice, and not of much interest to our children.

More stars is good, more staff submitted also typically good.
You'll see that it doesn't match that well with popular perception, especially for less ancient subjects.

Don't know what the closest US equivalent is - does someone else?

Last edited by ColinsMum; 07/25/13 11:15 AM. Reason: momentarily lost the plot and drank the Koolaid

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