Welcome to MatriculationStats.org!
On this site I’ve analyzed matriculation statistics, generally obtained from publicly available sources, for a number of boarding and day schools throughout the United States. Although these statistics have certainly been examined in a number of ways in a number of different venues, hopefully on these pages I present this information in some slightly different ways that you will find interesting.
First, I want to say a few words about what this information does NOT mean. It does NOT mean that just because one school has “better” statistics than another, that it is a “better” school. (Schools are presented alphabetically to emphasize this point, though you can sort). There are a host of reasons why one school has more of its graduates matriculate at, for example, Harvard, than another school. And many of those reasons have very little to do with the quality of the education, academic or otherwise, of that school. I’m not going to delve into these reasons here, but rest assured that I am aware of their existence. As a result, despite presenting these statistics here, I do not imbue them with more meaning than they really deserve.
Just because school A shows a higher percentage of its graduates attending a school in the Ivy League than school B does NOT mean that if a particular student admitted to both school A and school B chooses to attend school A that he or she will be more likely to be admitted an Ivy League school. There are so many factors that play into college admissions decisions that differences in percentages shown on these pages, especially small ones, should not be viewed as implying noticeable differences in any individual student’s college admission chances. In a perverse way, attending school A may even hurt the student due to the greater level of competition for those Ivy League spots. How all the factors balance out is essentially impossible to determine.
A student should definitely NOT overly rely on these statistics in deciding which school to enroll at. Certainly, they can provide some flavor of the school’s college placement record. If a student is determined to attend a highly competitive college, there may be some advantage to attending a school which has college counselors who have a relationship with such a college and these statistics may give some evidence of the existence of such a relationship. But there are many significant factors in a student’s choice of high school other than the possibility of which school comes next. Life is a journey, and the period of high school should be experienced for its own sake (with an eye out for what comes next, though). To that end, comfort with the school’s environment, emphasis on the student’s own particular interests, ability to interact successfully with other students and faculty and many other reasons are more important than any statistic you will see on these pages.
Enough of the caveat-filled lecture. On to the statistics themselves. The first two of the statistics are very straightforward. For those who like to compare schools on the basis of their performance at the top, I start with the percentage of students who matriculate at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford – abbreviated HYPMS (I pronounce it to sort of rhyme with Christmas). For many, it might be obvious why I chose these particular five schools. For those for whom it is not, look at almost any year of the US News & World Report ranking of United States colleges and universities. Also, a few years ago the New York Times published this interesting article in which they studied student’s choices of colleges given admittance to a pair of colleges. The results showed that students tended to prefer Harvard over any college when given the choice. They preferred Yale over every college except Harvard. And students preferred the triumvirate of Princeton, MIT and Stanford over all other colleges, except Harvard and Yale, but had no clear preference between any pair of them. So, HYPMS seemed the right way to examine the pinnacle of college matriculation universe. The second statistic is simply the eight Ivy League schools. Although the Ivies are not the highest ranked eight schools on the US News & World Report rankings (the lowest was #16 on the most recent list), they still retain a certain image and reputation. They are often the shorthand way of describing “elite colleges”. In any event, I decided to use that statistic also.
For the remaining statistics, I relied heavily on the US News & World Report rankings. Of course, no such rankings are perfect. But for my methodologies to make any sense, I needed to use some such rankings and these are the most widely known and cited. I wanted to look at how schools matriculate their students to a somewhat larger group of colleges than just HYPMS or the Ivies (a well-known website looks at IVY+M+S which, to me, seems to be mixing a historical and image classification with the current reality of Stanford and MIT – an inappropriate mixing of metaphors). A complication arose in that US News has two lists: National Universities and Liberal Arts Colleges. So, I had to devise a way to combine the lists. I first look at “Top Schools” in which I define a “Top School” as one of the top 25 of the National Universities list or one of the top 15 of the Liberal Arts Colleges (though I actually went to 17 due to ties). Why fewer Liberal Arts Colleges? Looking at the lists, it simply felt wrong to go so deep into the Liberal Arts College list. I didn’t feel that Colgate and Colorado College deserved to be counted with UCLA and University of Virginia (#24 and #25 on the National University list). In any event, the lists are included on the College Lists page of this website. I also looked at a deeper cut of schools by doubling the number of schools included to 50 National Universities and 30 Liberal Arts Colleges. Those I call “Strong Schools” (which include all the “Top Schools”) The percentage of students who matriculate from a given school to the “Top Schools” and “Strong Schools” are shown.
Measuring just the percentage of students matriculating to “Top Schools” and “Strong Schools” felt inadequate, however. Therefore, I developed the MATRIC© indices. These indices are a weighted average of the schools included in each classification. For the MATRIC Top School Index©, I took the 25 national universities and placed them into groups of 5. The first 5 schools got 5 points, the second 5 got 4 points, etc. For the 15 schools in the Liberal Arts Colleges, I also placed them into groups of 5. The top group included schools like Williams and Swarthmore, which although certainly excellent schools, did not seem to merit the same number of points as Yale and Stanford. So, I started with 4 points for that group, 2.5 points for the 2nd group and 1 point for the third group. For the MATRIC Strong School Index©, I similarly allocated points amongst the larger group of schools, but points decreased between groups of 5 at a slower rate. In the event of ties in the rankings, I occasionally used my judgment to move schools up or down a group to make matters balance out. All points assigned are shown on the College Lists page of this website. The total points for a school were then multiplied by 100 and then divided by the total number of graduates of the school to derive the index value.
One more wrinkle arose with foreign schools. Fortunately, this was not too difficult to handle in practice. There were only three schools (McGill University in Canada and St. Andrew’s University and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland) which accounted for more than a very minimal number of students. After checking some rankings and applying some personal judgment, I assigned McGill 4 points and the Scottish schools 2.5 in the MATRIC Top School Index©. These points translated into 4.5 and 3.25, respectively, in the MATRIC Strong School Index©. And even though they only appeared a few times in the data, I gave both Oxford and Cambridge 5 points in each index. Ignoring other foreign schools has very little effect on the index value for any school.
Now, what about the data? I have almost always used information available from a school’s website in performing my calculations. In a few cases, I had access to completely reliable information from inside sources. Many schools listed acceptances rather than matriculations. I did not use such data. If given a choice, I preferred to use the five most recent years of matriculations, but I occasionally used as little as one year (in which case it had to be one of the two most recent years) or as much as the most recent eight years. There are a few schools that list matriculations only to schools at which two (or sometimes three) or more students matriculated over the past five (or other number) of years. I plugged the gap in the data in a reasonable way in order to have as little chance as possible to distort the results.
Which schools are here?
There are three pages of results on this website. One shows boarding schools often known as prep schools. It is a work in progress and more schools will be steadily added over the coming weeks and months. There are a lot of these schools throughout the United States. If you have a particular favorite that you want bumped nearer to the top of the “to be added” list, send me a comment via this website. The second page shows New York City day schools. I started with these since there are a lot fewer of them (and I live in NYC so I was more interested). I also threw in a couple of selective public schools for which I had data. If I missed any for which there is publicly available data (or you can send me data which can somehow be verified), please contact me through this website. The third page shows day schools in cities other than NYC. Although I will keep adding to this page as time allows, I doubt it will ever be complete. There’s not necessarily going to be any rhyme or reason to the order in which I add schools. I’ll probably start by trying for some geographical diversity but then I may choose to linger over a specific city for awhile. In general, I’ll be adding a school each day. I can’t guarantee that will be an every day event, but I’ll try.
So, I hope you find these results interesting. Just remember, they are meant to be just that, interesting. Please do not infer too much from them.