At business mag Forbes, some have begun to consider the difference between influence and power:
Swarthmore College has been rated the best liberal arts college in the U.S. by Academic Influence, a new college rankings method that uses artificial intelligence technology to search massive databases and measure the impact of work by individuals who’ve been affiliated with colleges and universities throughout the world.
Last Monday, Academic Influence released its first-ever ranking of American liberal arts colleges – those four-year institutions that are relatively small in size, focus on bachelor’s level education, emphasize direct engagement with professors, provide an enriched residential experience, and insist on broad grounding in the liberal arts along with focused study in a major.
In brief, here’s how Academic Influence’s methodology works: It begins with the premise that the people affiliated with a school determine its quality. To measure that quality for undergraduates, a trademarked measure termed “Concentrated Influence” is computed.Michael T. Nietze, “New Ranking System: Swarthmore, Amherst Top The 50 Best Liberal Arts Colleges” at Forbes
He also notes,
In order to control for other confounding factors, the searched data are restricted to the past ten years, and the names of famous politicians, artists, performers, etc. are suppressed, solving the problem that they otherwise would exert an inordinate influence on a school’s ranking. (So for example, Wellesley College won’t get a big bounce from its alum, Hillary Clinton.) Individuals’ influence is tracked constantly in real time, and influence scores are updated quarterly.Michael T. Nietze, “New Ranking System: Swarthmore, Amherst Top The 50 Best Liberal Arts Colleges” at Forbes
Influence, as opposed to power, is underrated. Anyone with more than five decades of life experience understands that. What if you attended school in the same graduating class with three people who became governors? What if you live across the street from the mayor or the police chief? What if the woman in charge of refugee admissions is your sister-in-law? The math all changes dramatically because who you know matters.
What media say may (or may not) matter. But sometimes walking across the street matters.
To understand how influence works, look at Ross Gulik’s explanation: Will machine learning disrupt academic research ranking claims?
Also: Here are the best liberal arts colleges of 2021 according to
Here’s a fun vid on what university rankings really mean (watch it before you give out your charge card number):