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NCSA Power Rankings Methodology


NCSA Power Rankings Methodology

NCSA Power Rankings provide a unique look at the country’s top colleges and universities from an athletic and academic perspective to give parents and student-athletes a valuable tool when searching potential schools.

What data is used for the rankings?

NCSA Power Rankings evaluate colleges and universities according to three metrics:

  • NCSA Favorites — NCSA Favorites data is determined by the college-search activity of the over 2 million student-athletes in NCSA’s recruiting network. A school’s favorites reflect the amount of interest expressed by current high school student athletes.
  • U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges —The annual U.S. News Best Colleges rankings focus strictly on academic excellence. Schools are ranked based on 16 measures of academic quality, with a strong emphasis placed on student outcomes like graduation and retention rates.
  • IPEDS Graduation Rate— The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is an annual data collection distributed by the Postsecondary Branch of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a non-partisan center within the Institute of Education Sciences under the U.S. Department of Education. Graduation rates are collected at the institutional level and are reflective of full-time, first-time, degree-/certificate-seeking students who started and finished at the same institution.

How do we calculate the rankings for each school?

NCSA Power Rankings are calculated through a proprietary methodology using each school’s NCSA Favorites data, general academic ranking based off U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges, and IPEDS graduation rate ranking.

NCSA Favorites are based on the schools chosen by student-athletes on the NCSA platform. This raw data is used as one of three metrics that make up a school’s 2018 NCSA Power Ranking.

U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges lists top schools in institutional categories to make valid comparisons of schools with similar missions. Categories are based on the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education's Basic Classification 2015 Update, which is the most widely accepted classification system in higher education. U.S. News collapses 12 of the Carnegie categories into four: National Universities, National Liberal Arts Colleges,Regional Universities and Regional Colleges. The Regional Universities and Colleges are placed into one of four geographic categories: North, South, Midwest and West.

NCSA Power Rankings rank all academic institutions – universities and colleges – together into overall, division level and/or sports specific lists. To appropriately value each institution, NCSA weighted the 2018 U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges institutional categories as follows:

  • National Universities - 100%.
  • National Liberal Arts Colleges - 85%
  • Regional Universities - 70%
  • Regional Colleges - 55%

Institutions are then ranked based on weighted adjustments and assigned a general academic ranking, which is used as one of three metrics that make up a school’s 2018 NCSA Power Ranking.

IPEDS graduation rates are determined by collecting the number of students enrolled in a cohort year and the number in that cohort graduating within different lengths of time. These numbers are then used to calculate graduation rates by dividing the number of students who completed their program within a specific percentage of normal time to completion by the number of students in the entering cohort (adjusted).

Because graduation rates are published several years after students entered their program, they are not reflective of the current entering student population. NCSA used the most current IDEDS data, rankings the 2016 IPEDS graduation rates and using this data as one of three metrics that make up a school’s 2018 NCSA Power Ranking.

The Power Rankings Analysis

NCSA Favorites data, general academic rankings based off of U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges, and IPEDS graduation rate rankings were weighted equally at 33.3%. These metrics were combined and averaged to establish a score for each college or university. Institutions were then ranked by score into overall, sport and NCAA or NAIA division lists to determine the final NCSA Power Rankings.

NCSA Power Ranking ties were eliminated by valuing institutions with the most NCSA Favorites highest, followed by the highest U.S. News general ranking and finally, schools with the highest graduation rate ranking.

Why would a school not be on the power rankings list?

A school would not be included in the NCSA Power Rankings if it is not listed in one of the three data sets – NCSA Favorites, U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges, or IPEDS graduation rates – or if it does not fall within the Top 100 or Top 50 NCSA Power Rankings.

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