Periodically over the past years, individuals express concern with our ranking methodologies.
We would like to take this moment to clarify that we (the StudentsReview staff) are not personally ranking universities. We are collecting data in which students have critiqued their own university. We make no attempts to categorize or rate one as better than another. We are trying to show prospective college students what current college students have to say - as a helpful and informative resource to picking a school.
StudentsReview gathers data. This data is given to us by self selected individuals, though we sequester as many people as possible to take our survey. The sampling of the people selected to be emailed is random, a reflection of students who maintain email accounts at their university (e.g. all students).
That is not to say that the data itself is random -- it is not. Any time an individual selects themselves to do something, it is because of personal motives. An individual may either love or hate the University in question. But it is students' negative comments that seem to cause the most concern.
StudentsReview asks precise questions on its survey -- questions that were formed and refined by over 50 current college students. These questions single out elements that an individual may be pleased or displeased with, making it difficult to provide a singularly glowing or spiteful review of a college.
e.g. "What is the % of professors that speak english clearly in your department?"
-or- "Rate the campus maintenance (A-F)"
Taken as a whole, the differences between these questions are what identify what is better at a University, and what needs work. Taken with a summation of other surveys, good and bad, the system provides a formidible force of data and student sentiment in every department, at every University.
We treat all surveys, good and bad with equal deference. Many times negative opinions of a service (one with a $80,000+ price tag), contain more useful information than a positive opinion -- for instance, specifics, on what wasn't so great, whereas a positive opinion tends to read like "this was wonderful". But we treat them all equally. It is true that if enough negative people came on the system that StudentsReview would seem like a "forum disgruntled students", but then ask yourself, "why are there so many disgruntled students?". Each student can only survey once; that means that you are reading the disgruntled opinions of many many students. Don't disregard them as though they are tainted.
Concern has also been expressed about the ability for third parties manipulate and forge reviews. While it is always possible (with every service), our database system records enough information about the source of the 'review' to allow us to drop any erroneous or forged surveys easily when necessary. We also record the reviewers email address, so that should the time come when the validity of the data is challenged by a University, we can deliver a list of email addresses to the University for them to verify against their student body.
This system, in conjunction with a large and random sampling of reviews will allow us to clearly display to prospective students, parents, and current University administration, the high and low points of every department in their university, and the high and lows of the University as a whole, and its trends over time.