Got this note today from Ryan Caldwell. I’m posting it here because he indicated that he originally wanted it on the site but it may have been blocked by the comment moderation system.
I sent this message in the comments but not sure if it made it through Askimet.
Hey, I wanted to address a few of the points in your article. First off, I have a B.S. in computer science and an M.A. in philosophy. I am no longer a college student. Second, I bought College Startup from Ben Bleikamp a few years ago because the site was profitable. Third, my company pays two full time editors to run The Best Colleges. One of them, our main researcher, has an undergraduate degree in Philosophy and a three year M.Div. degree from Duke divinity school.
We take the work that we do very seriously. Yes, our site is young. And yes, we need to make a living. But our ultimate goal is to do the hard work to make rankings that compete with and ultimately outperform US News & World Report. In that light, our biggest project at the moment is developing a ranking algorithm of the top 50 schools in the United States. When we release this project along with its corresponding data (should be within the month) I would be very interested in getting similar critical feedback, as we are very interested in producing high quality content that genuinely helps students.
Again, I’m sorry that you feel that our rankings are illegitimate, but we are a real organization, with paid, informed, and well educated American editors (unlike 99% of the stuff that is online) and our ultimate goal is to build defensible and credible resources for college students and alumni alike.
Thanks for taking the time to be a thoughtful and skeptical individual. Our world could certainly use a few more people like you.
Thanks Ryan. First off, congrats on graduating and getting your BA and MA and for running a successful business. I had fun looking into this whole thing, and the best part was getting to explain to people how to use tools like “whois” and how to conduct searches like this. Guess I’m just a teacher at heart! (By the way your web site still identifies you as a grad student in bioinformatics at this location, so you might want to update that.)
I would be very interested in seeing how your site evolves over time to include the features you mention and the updated methodology and some additional fact checking. One of the commenters on the original posting asked what would comprise a better methodology for ranking campus aesthetics. I was thinking that the fields of urban planning, architectural history and art criticism might have some things to say about how to do this properly. Just an idea.
Keep me posted.