LinkedIn is the latest organization to join the world of college rankings.
The site for networking and finding jobs unveiled its own college rankings system Wednesday. It uses data collected from its 300 million users to judge which colleges had the most alumni land posts at what the site calls “desirable jobs.”
For its 119,153 alumni on LinkedIn, GW ranked No. 16 on the site’s list of the 25 best colleges for aspiring media professionals. That was the only field GW ranked as one of the top-25 schools for LinkedIn’s career outcomes.
New York University was ranked the No. 1 school for graduates in media jobs, while other competitor schools like Duke, Northwestern and Georgetown Universities ranked No. 3, No. 5 and No. 15, respectively.
The site ranked colleges in eight different fields – including accounting, finance and software development – based on which institutions had the most alumni working in that field. LinkedIn considered the most desirable jobs to be offered at companies that had the most people leaving previous jobs to work there.
“More than ever, students go to college because they want to get jobs — good jobs. To that end, students and parents want to know which schools give them the best chance at getting a desirable job after graduation. This is where we can help,” senior data scientist Navneet Kapur wrote on LinkedIn’s blog Wednesday.
Robert Kelchen, an assistant professor of higher education at Seton Hall University, said since LinkedIn is using information that people choose to post on their website, the data could be flawed.
“The kind of people who are going to be on LinkedIn are probably ones who are doing well in their job and trying to get a better one,” he said. “With that being said, if that’s the same for every school, the bias is the same for every school.”
Victor Borden, who teaches education and policy studies at the University of Indiana-Bloomington, said the rankings show how general thinking about college education has changed to focus more on job placement.
“There used to be a component of higher education about higher knowledge in and of itself,” he said. “The more we focus on vocational outcomes, the more we’re not focusing on other outcomes.”
Still, the more systems that analyze how institutions perform in different areas helps prospective students best pick from their options, he said.
Earlier this year, the New York Times ranked colleges for the first time based on how well institutions attracted lower-income students. The federal government is also expected to unveil a draft of a college ratings system this year, which will evaluate institutions based on factors like access and affordability.
These more specialized rankings system come as the U.S. News & World Report ranked the nation’s best colleges for the 30th time this year.
But as more organizations look to judge colleges based on different criteria, it’s more difficult for those looking to understand where colleges excel, Borden said.
“They’re all chipping away at it from various angles,” he said. “Each one of them provides a different piece of the picture, but each one is incomplete in terms of where they are and where they’re getting their data from.”
LinkedIn ranked Georgetown as the top school for alumni landing jobs as investment bankers, with Duke ranking No. 3 and Vanderbilt University ranking No. 21. Duke was ranked the eighth-best school for software developers, while the University of Southern California ranked No. 23.
LinkedIn also profiled institutions based on where the most alumni worked and in which fields. The U.S. Department of State is the top employer for GW graduates, followed by Booz Allen Hamilton and IBM, according to the data.
The largest number of graduates say they work in education, but Daniel Klasik, an associate professor of higher education administration, said that was common for universities, and often graduates will go into teaching for a few years after graduation.
LinkedIn’s system would be most useful to prospective students who know exactly what they want to study – typically a fairly small number of students, he said.
“It’s helpful for people who know exactly what they want to do,” he said. “Students who seem to have some idea of what they want to do, or at least a field they want to go into, it can be a tool for them.”