Kamal Sinha> IIT> Ranking Obsession

IITians' Ranking Obsession

IITians like to rank every academic institution, test scores, countries, movies, you name it. When applying for their graduate studies at the US universities, this obsession comes into full play.

Universities Ranked

Actually IITians don't rank any university; they just read the list from some source - any source, and memorize the ranks. Once I met an IITian who was studying chemical engineering at University of Minnesota and I made the mistake of mentioning that it was a good school. He seemed upset and went on to explain to me that it was #3 on some list and #1 on some other list. My apologies on my apparent insult seemed to cool him off.

At no time, the ranking methodology is questioned. Why was 25 percent weight given to class size and why not 10 percent - that question apparently does not cross his mind. If Berkeley had score of 9.51 and Stanford had score of 9.52 it immediately makes Stanford better than Berkeley! Standard error is a term not known to IITians.

Test Scores

When I was at IIT Bombay, I would hear of someone who got 791 on GRE, full 3 points more than someone else. About that time GRE switched to rounding off to the multiples of ten and much later when I read ETS's description of GRE, it was obvious that up to about 50 points difference in scores was considered to be insignificant!

Research Potential?

Recently I was surfing the web and found an article by an IITian which started out questioning whether IITians are really top-ranked. It seemed promising because IITians rarely display such questioning attitude when it comes to IIT reputation. However, soon it appeared that the author started using numbers, accurate up to two decimal positions, from a popular magazine that rated schools in an article! I gave up.