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How important is the University ranking?

How important is the University ranking for your study and career? Is it the only thing to consider?

My name is Suman Chowdhury. Currently, I am working as an Assistant Research Scientist at Texas A&M University. Before it, I was a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Pittsburgh. I completed my Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering with a major in Occupational Biomechanics in 2016.

This is my first video blog for my study So today, I am going to talk about the importance of University Ranking. University Ranking seems ambiguous but an essential consideration in the higher study. Yes, it’s important, but it is one of the ‘piece-of-the-puzzle’, there are other pieces of that puzzle—such as location, the reputation of the program and the professors. I would like to explain in regard to my own experiences as well as what I have been told by many professors and professionals. Some of you may not agree with a few of my opinion, but that’s okay.

First of all. I should make it clear that ranking influences the reputation of an institution. And the reputation is important for the graduates to get a job. The company doesn’t care about how many research articles the faculty produces each year or what was the research expenditures last year in a university. They mainly go with the reputation. And the reputation comes with years of higher ranking in the spectrum. So, if you want to build a career in the industry, look for an institution which ranks better or at least has a decent rank. Having said that, there are two other major considerations which help a graduate to get a decent job— the location of an institution. If a lower-ranked university is located in or near to a big city or industrial hub, it helps to get a job much faster than a decent-ranked university situated far away from the metropolitan or industrial hub. Getting in the high-ranked university is very competitive. So, students with low GPA can consider low-ranked universities located at the cosmopolitan or industrial hub. These were the suggestions for the prospective students who want to build a career in the industry.

The ranking website ranks overall performance as well as the program-specific performance of a university, which we are commonly known as program-specific ranking. Now, for the prospective students who want to build a career in academia, such as faculty positions, my suggestion to you is, to look for the program-specific ranking. But still, ranking won’t help you to find a tenure-track faculty position in research universities if your Ph.D. supervisor is not very active in research. So ultimately, finding a faculty position depends mostly on the reputation of your Ph.D. supervisor. Having said that, you will find most of the well-known professors in the high-rank universities because it helps them to get funding from the industry, and some extent to get federal funding as well. Well, some decent ranked university also has very well-reputed professors. I personally know some reputed professors in my research area, from mediocre or lower-ranked university, because they would like to stay in those universities because of family or geographical preferences, and so on. So, the reputation of your professor is more important than the ranking. Another important issue is that I heard it from some of the faculties, I decline to mention their affiliations, that they prefer to hire from their peer-institutions or from a more reputed institution. Because, it may help them in undergraduate enrollment.

So, either way, university ranking is important while pursuing higher studies. But location of an institution is more important than the ranking to get a job. And the reputation of a professor should be given more preference than the ranking of the university.

Nonetheless, success doesn’t depend on the university ranking, it ultimately boils down to an individual’s performance, perseverance, merits, and above ,all attitude. There are plenty of examples of people from low-ranked universities became very successful or became faculty in the reputed institutions. So That’s all the two-cents from me. Good luck everybody who are listening!

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